With a brightness greater than trillions of trillions of watts, it’s no wonder the sun can be harmful, and more so the closer we get. Astronauts and space probes use carefully designed equipment in order to be protected. The One who created that sun—and a universe of other stars like it—is so pure, perfect, and holy that we should approach Him with humility and reverence.
David’s psalms passionately detail the life of faith for a man who, though flawed, sought God with all his heart. Psalms 15 and 16 share thoughts on right behavior that indicate David’s practical nature as well as his delight in the Lord.
Psalm 15:1-5 and Psalm 16:1-11
Are you careful about the words that you speak of others?
- David asks who may “reside” (literally, abide or spend time) in the Lord’s tent or “settle on [His] holy hill” (15:1). In one sense, he’s referring to Israelite practices: Only priests could enter the tent where God’s presence dwelt, and they had to be ritually pure. It was essential to follow God’s instructions. When Solomon built the first temple on Mount Moriah, similar statutes applied. The presence of the Lord was dangerous, and contact with His holiness for those unprepared or forbidden was deadly. (See Lev. 10:1-2.) But David also meant his words symbolically. What do you think he was really asking?
- Today the power of speech is largely disregarded; many consider gossip meaningless. But a harsh word spoken undeservedly is harmful—to the speaker as well as the target. Scripture says guarding our mouth will protect our own life and soul (Prov. 13:3; Prov. 21:23). As a leader who had many enemies, David knew and hated the damage of slander. In Psalm 15:3-5, which of his examples deal with protecting the reputation of others? Whom can you protect by not speaking ill or refusing to agree when others do?
- Universal affection, however, is not necessarily an attribute of those who share deep intimacy with God. How does verse 4 express this?
- Psalm 15 describes behavior that will bring us nearer to God and also affect the quality of our life. How do the words “one who does these things will never be shaken” (v. 5) either inspire or trouble you?
CONTINUING THE STORY
David shares that great pleasure results from walking carefully with God.
- When we love the Lord, loving others who also adore Him is natural. Who are “the saints who are on the earth” (Ps. 16:3)? This verse is profoundly relevant to issues such as peace in churches and forgiveness among Christians. Do you see fellow believers as “majestic”?
- David says, “I will bless the Lord who has advised me” (v. 7). How is this verse related to Psalm 15?
- Psalm 16:11 declares that God’s presence, which David earnestly sought in Psalm 15, is a place of joy and “pleasures forever.” Does this affect your desire to change behaviors that you might otherwise have ignored?
Simple actions can have a great effect on spiritual health.
- Even David, a great Israelite king who was chosen, anointed, and honored by God, thoughtfully pondered how his behavior could bring him closer to the Lord. What he learned applies to us as well: The more closely we heed God’s words, the more joy we will find.
Consider how this study applies to your life.
What a blessing we have in Jesus! The Israelites had to follow rigorous commands to endure God’s holiness. Jesus’ death and resurrection instituted the New Covenant, under which we’re safe in God’s presence through faith. The dangers faced by priests in David’s Israel are no longer obstacles to us. As we contemplate the power of Christ’s blood to make us acceptable before God, the question arises: How much do our actions still matter? The answer is complex but crucial for every believer.
- When someone referred to seeking God on His mountain, Jesus said, “those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). Describe some differences between meeting God “on this mountain” and in your spirit.
- Christ promised, “If anyone loves Me, he will follow My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our dwelling with him” (John 14:23). He instructed us to take His righteousness as our own and to follow His many directives for right living (John 6:29; John 14:15). Give thanks for your faith and ask for help in being someone with whom Jesus and His Father love to dwell.
- If you would like to understand the spiritual mechanics governing the Old and New Covenants, start by studying Hebrews. And to further explore the relationship between faith and action, try reading the letter of James. Jesus’ sacrifice obtained for us the extraordinary privilege of being in the presence of God without fear (Heb. 4:16). Right living makes the relationship infinitely sweeter.