Sunday, July 5, 2020

Psalm 15: Characteristics of the Believer in Jesus (Summer Playlist Series)

Psalm 15:  Characteristics of the Believer in Jesus
Characteristics of the Believer

Today, we continue our Summer Playlist Series in the Psalms as we read Psalm 15.  The following are my Bible study notes based on my pastor's sermon.  You are invited to watch, listen, and worship with us here.

Have you ever had someone ask you a question and then immediately answer it before you do?  Have you ever done that yourself?  I'm guessing that we have all done that at some point in time.  This is what David did in Psalm 15. David asked a question in Psalm 15:1 and then answers it in Psalm 15:2-5.  

My pastor informs us that many Bible scholars believe that Psalm 15 was written to commemorate the return of the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem.

David's first attempt to bring the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem failed because he failed to follow God's clear instructions.  Only the assigned Levites were to move the ark using poles carried on their shoulders.  Instead, the Ark was carried on a cart pulled by oxen.  When the oxen stumbled, a man named Uzzah reached to steady it.  Uzzah was immediately struck dead.  The fear of God caused David to postpone his trip to Jerusalem and he left the Ark in the home of Obed-Edom who was a Godly man.

While the Ark was in the home of Obed-Edom, God blessed him and his family.  When David made his second attempt to return the Ark to its rightful place in Jerusalem, he carefully followed Moses' instructions.

This is where David asks his critical question:

What sort of man qualifies for such a holy task to be admitted into the presence of Holy  God?

This prayer of David was a poem set to a song.  He and those with him may have sang this song as they moved the Ark back to Jerusalem.

Let's recap David's two questions.

1.  Lord, who may abide in Your tabernacle?

Today, we might consider the question this way.  Lord, who qualifies to even temporarily gather together with other worshipers to have fellowship with You? 

The word "abide," in this context, means to gather with others for a temporary time.  In this case, in the tabernacle which was constructed by Moses to the exact specifications given by God.  It represented the presence of the Holy God in the midst of His people.  As they moved from place to place in the wilderness, the Tabernacle went with them.  This symbolizes today's church, having no continuing city, sojourning on earth, preparing for our home in Heaven.

2.  Lord, who may dwell on Your holy hill?

In this question, David uses the word "dwelling."  In this context, the word "dwelling" means to reside or permanently stay in one place.  This could be literally or figuratively.  In this question, David is using the "holy hill" or Jerusalem where the Temple was built as a permanent place of worship.  

What do these questions mean for us?  Another way of asking these two questions might be:

Dear God, how can we qualify to even fellowship with You here on Earth temporarily, much less to enjoy eternal fellowship with you in Heaven?

That question is answered in Psalm 15 of God's Holy Word.  Let's read Psalm 15.

Lord, who may reside in Your tent?
Who may settle on Your holy hill?
One who walks with integrity, practices righteousness,
And speaks truth in his heart.
He does not slander with his tongue,
Nor do evil to his neighbor,
Nor bring shame on his friend;
A despicable person is despised in his eyes,
But he honors those who fear the Lord;
He takes an oath to his own detriment, and does not change;
He does not lend his money at interest,
Nor does he take a bribe against the innocent.
One who does these things will never be shaken. - Psalm 15

Psalm 15:2 summarizes the answer to these questions.   Psalm 15:2-5 illustrates what this looks like in the daily lives of Christ followers.

Verse 2 tells us three characteristics of one who qualifies to fellowship with God on Earth and in Heaven.

1.  One who walks in God's ways.

2.  One who works in God's ways.

3.  One who speaks in God's ways.

Let's ask a few other questions based on the three qualifications above.  

1.  Is there anyone who perfectly walks in God's ways?

2.  Is there anyone who perfectly works in God's ways?

3.  Is there anyone who perfectly speaks in God's ways?

The answer to all of those question is "No."  None of us, not even one of us, can qualify to have fellowship with God on our on strength.

There is only one man who perfectly qualified for fellowship with God.  That was and is Jesus Christ.  BUT, when a person comes to Jesus in humility and brokenness, turning away from sin and trusting Him as his or her Savior, he or she can enjoy fellowship with God.

What are the characteristics of someone who has fellowship with God?

Characteristics of the Believer in Jesus

1.  The Walk of the Believer

The believer in Jesus demonstrates a consistent walk in integrity, truthfulness, and sincerity.  The believer has a backbone of integrity, walking upright consistently.

Think of a tightrope walker.  The tightrope walker must walk directly upright, never leaning to the right or to the left.  The tightrope walker must keep his or her focus directly ahead.  Likewise, we must be consistently looking ahead to Jesus.  When we walk upright in Jesus, we will regard vile behavior as nasty and despicable.  We will want to turn away from such behavior.  We will stick to the Word in Truth even when it hurts.

2,  The Works of the Believer

The word "works" refers to the habitual works you practice from day to day.  These works are to be done in righteousness. God requires of believers what is right and just. 

The believer will not do evil to our neighbor.

The believer will not take up a reproach against our friend (such as gossip).

The believer will honor those who fear the Lord.

The believer will not take advantage of others through unreasonable interest on loans or receive bribes under the table.

3.  The Words of the Believer

The speech of the believer is consistently stable, trustworthy, courageous, and sensitive.

The good person out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil person out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart. - Luke 6:45

 The believer doesn't slander others.  

The tongue is not steel, but it cuts, and its wounds are very hard to bear; its worst wounds are not with its edge to our face, but with its edge to our back when our head is turned . . . All slanderers are the devil's bellows to blow up contention, but those are the worst which blow at the back of the fire. - C.H. Spurgeon

In Psalm 15, David is stating that the person whose walk, works, and words consistently demonstrate this pattern will never be overthrown or drawn off course.  He or she will fellowship in Heaven with God eternally.

When the whirlwind passes, the wicked is no more,
But the righteous has an everlasting foundation. - Proverbs 10:25

The apostle John had a Heavenly vision as described in Revelation 21:1-4

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among the people, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away. - Revelation 21:1-4

No one can achieve sinless perfection in his or her walk, works, and words but Jesus lived a perfect life and died on a cross as a substitute for us.  After He paid the ultimate price for our sins, He was buried and rose from the grave.  Jesus made it possible for any person who trusts in Him to experience fellowship with Him in this life and in eternal life to come.

Have you trusted Jesus as your Savior?  Learn more about how to do that here


Characteristics of the Believer in Jesus, Psalm 15
Characteristics of the Believer in Jesus, Psalm 15

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