Checking the Boxes
February 4th – Les Kovacs Psalm 15
Observe: King David appears to have been in a meditative mood when he wrote Psalm 15. Many biblical scholars believe it was written on his first, unsuccessful, attempt to bring the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem as recorded in 2 Samuel 6. Contemplating his failed attempt, he asks the question of who is worthy to live in the house of the Lord, and then he lists some of the characteristics of a righteous person, living a holy life. Walk in a blameless way; do what is right; speak the truth; offer no harm to your neighbor; hate sinful behaviour; keep your promises; and provide aid to the poor or oppressed.
Recounting all these things, David concludes, that whoever is able to live a righteous life “will never be shaken” (v5), and they will live in the house of the Lord forever.
Interpret: In this contemplative mood, David asks and answers his own question of who is worthy to live in the house of the Lord. If anyone in the Old Testament should know, its David, because he was chosen by God to rule over the Israelites (1 Sam 13:14) after Saul had disqualified his own kingship. David sets the bar pretty high for entry into God’s house. However, as we read further in scripture, we see that Psalm 15 only contains a partial list of these righteous behaviours. There are many more required qualifications found throughout the Bible, particularly in David’s other Psalms. In order to stand in the house of the Lord, not only must a person live up to God’s standards, but they must do so all the time. That’s a lot of checkboxes on the “Righteousness Scorecard.” Which human being could ever live that kind of life? When you read the stories of King David’s exploits, we find that not even he was able to live up to these standards. There is not a single human being in all of history who has ever lived up to these unattainably high expectations. Except one, Jesus Christ.
Application: David was not a perfect man or king. His story is told from 1 Samuel 16 through 1 Kings 2, and it paints a portrait of a man of contrasts. His story is one of great triumph as he defeated the enemies of Israel and united the tribes into one kingdom, and of utter moral failure when he committed adultery and murder just so he could take Bathsheba for his wife. He experienced great joy as he danced before the Lord with all his might when they finally brought the Ark of the Covenant into the city, and he suffered devastating despair at the rebellion and death of his son, Absalom. He wrote most of his Psalms as praises to God’s great glory, or as supplications for His divine deliverance, and still he was capable of all the serious sins that have afflicted humankind since Genesis 3. And yet he was credited as being a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22). How?
What made David different was that despite being a deeply flawed human being, his heart was pointed towards God. God chose him to lead His people because David was deeply devoted to God and loved His Word (Psalm 119:47-48). He had a deep desire to follow God’s will and do “everything” God wanted him to do, despite his failings.
From our vantage point in history, we have not only the example of David, but of all the other giants of scripture as well. And like them, and despite our best intentions, we too fall well short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), and could never dwell in the house of the Lord by our own efforts. We could never check all the boxes of holy behaviour.
Yet, as Christians we need not despair, knowing that we don’t have to rely on our own strength to live the perfect life because Jesus did it for us already. He lived the only unblemished life in faithful obedience to His heavenly Father, and then gave it all up for us. He traded His white robe for our dirty rags. He exchanged His royal crown for our weighty chains. He sacrificed His sinless life for our rebellious nature. And all He asks in return is that we believe in Him and point our hearts towards God.
We point our hearts to God when we spend time in His presence during our quiet moments and prayer times. We learn to love His Word by studying the scriptures which He inspired for our benefit. We grow our faith in Him as we bend our will to His and see the blessings He had planned for us from before we were born. We become more like Jesus when we let Him mold us into the people He created us to be. We are saved and allowed into His glorious throne room, into His holy presence, when we accept His gift of salvation.
We cannot check all the boxes. We cannot enter into in the house of the Lord in our own strength. But, Jesus Christ has opened the door to the heavenly realms and invited us in.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, help us to grow in our faith and commitment to you. Forgive us when we sin, and then confess, repent and return to you. Guide us and teach us to love your laws as your Holy Spirit opens up your word to us. Help us to be people after your on heart. This we pray in the merciful name of Jesus, Amen.
Song: My Saviour My God – Aaron Shust
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In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.