The 15th psalm is one I have preached, taught in classes, etc. It is a straightforward psalm that tells us how to abide (live) with God. The point David makes in verse one is asking who shall be in God’s presence or enjoy fellowship with God. The rest of the psalm answers this question.
Another interesting point is that Psalm 15 is similar to Psalm 14. As we continue to read, we will see that Psalm 24 borrows some phrases from here, just like Psalm 53 and Psalm 14 are worded similarly. The difference is that Psalm 24 only uses a small piece of Psalm 15, but Psalm 53 repeats Psalm 14 word-for-word.
In the text, we see David’s main question asked in verse 1. It is the same question asked two ways: “Who shall abide in thy tabernacle?” and “Who shall dwell in thy holy hill?” Zion (God’s dwelling) is compared to the tabernacle (tent) or a high hill in this verse. When we look back in the Old Testament, we see the Tabernacle was where God spoke and met (communed) with His people (Ex. 29:42-43, 33:8-9). This is where God’s glory was seen (Ex. 40:34-35). Thus, it is fitting to ask such a question. Please note David did not have the literal tabernacle in mind. We know this based on the rest of the psalm. Again, who can be in God’s presence, ultimately? Imagine being a Jew 3000 years ago and getting to sing this song that spelled out who it is!
Someone who (v. 2-5):
- Walks uprightly or blamelessly. This word would remind the Hebrews of the spotless animal sacrifice they were to offer. He lives a life of integrity, just as John taught (I Jn. 2:6).
- Works righteousness. This was what Peter told Cornelius to do as well (Acts 10:35).
- Speaks the truth “in his heart.” This shows the sincerity of the person. He doesn’t speak the truth only when convenient for him to do so. He is an honest person (Eph. 4:25; Col. 3:9)!
- Does not backbite. This is a natural contrast with the last phrase about speaking the truth!
- Does not do evil. This is a demand throughout Scripture. We are not to do evil to people even when they first did evil to us (Rom. 12:19; Matt. 7:12, 5:39-45).
- Does not take a reproach against his neighbor. From this, we see we are not to “discredit” or say evil things against our neighbors. “Who is my neighbor?” Do you remember?
- Rejects the vile person. The righteous man has the right attitude toward evil people. This is not speaking about hatred of the person but a rejection of the deeds of the evil person. One in fellowship with God does not praise evil but rejects it, just like Jesus did (Heb. 1:9)!
- Honors those who fear the Lord. This statement stands as a natural contrast with the last phrase. Since a righteous man rejects the vile person’s ways, he accepts those who fear the Lord! He is in fellowship with everyone who is in fellowship with God (II Jn. 9-11; I Jn. 1:7).
- Swears to his own hurt. This means this person makes a promise and stands by it when it is right. This is especially true when we consider the things we have promised God (Ecc. 5:1-6)! When I made a vow to be a Christian, this means I will be a Christian and follow the Lord regardless of what others say!
- Does not put out his money to usury. This is a little difficult for 21st-century people to understand. Under the Old Testament, God forbade His people from charging interest on debts to anyone but foreigners (Ex. 22:25; Lev. 25:35-37; Deut. 23:19-20; Neh. 5; etc.). Thus, a righteous man would not charge interest on debts to his countrymen. A modern application would be not to be oppressive to people or not take advantage of people when they are in a weakened circumstance, financially or otherwise.
- Does not take a bribe. Staying with the theme of “money” and how to use it properly, righteous people do not take bribes! Judas would be an example of someone who did not live Psalm 15:5 (Matt. 26:15)!
Doing these things means we will not be moved (shaken), just as Jesus taught in Matthew 7:24-28! When we look to the New Testament, we see obedience to God emphasized similarly. If I am going to please God, I need to do what He says (Heb. 5:9), be motivated in the right way (I Cor. 13:4-8; Jn. 13:34-35), and treat others correctly (Matt. 7:12). Just as in Old Testament days, it is possible to be in fellowship with God today! Let’s make this our daily goal to “walk in the light” (I Jn. 1:7)!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
Do you like sad songs? When a song comes on the radio that makes you want to cry or tells about the experience of a broken-hearted person, what does that do to you? Sad songs touch people in ways that joyous songs do not. Sad songs can make one look inwardly to examine oneself. Sad songs can make us upset at the “establishment” or an oppressor. Sad songs allow us to sympathize with the singer.
I believe Psalm 13 is one of the saddest psalms we read. David asks if God will forget him forever (v. 1). How sad! Have we been in situations where we felt alone or abandoned? This is how David feels. Can we sympathize?
I like the way The Israel Bible translates verse two. It says, “How long will I have cares on my mind, grief in my heart all day? How long will my enemy have the upper hand?” Have we had times like this?
Verses 3, 5, and 6 show us that within this man still beats a heart of hope. Unlike sad songs men might write today that leave us crying or simply feeling bad for the condition of the singer, David writes a psalm that declares that in such overwhelming sadness, there is hope. “I have trusted in thy mercy” (v. 5). He didn’t deny God had any mercy left! There is still mercy for God’s people, and it abounds. Are we aware of God’s mercy, or are we only seeing the sadness?
Often, when we are hurting the worst, is when God is the closest. He cares! Such times have been compared to when a storm rolls through the land. Lightning flashes, the thunder rolls, violent winds blow, and the rains drench the earth. Yet, all of us know that that bright, shining sun is on the other side of the clouds. It has not gone anywhere and will shine long after the storm is gone.
So it is with God! “I will sing unto the Lord, because he hath dealt bountifully with me” (v. 6). Amen!
I know this is not the only sad song in the Psalms, but this song definitely causes us to look inward and examine and see where our faith really lies! Psalm 13 shows us where our hope needs to be! Where is your hope? Is it in men or God? Where is your faith when the storms rage (Ps. 13:6)?
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
Psalm 11 - 6/7/22
As every Bible student knows, some passages demand greater attention to detail. Some passages can be read once or twice, and we comprehend the statement. Other passages require several more readings to truly understand what is said. For me, Psalm 11 required several readings to understand the “feel” and flow of the song.
In reading this psalm, it is apparent that David declares his trust in the Almighty (v. 1). He displayed a trust we all ought to have. When I put my trust in God (v. 1), then why listen to the ones trying to scare me (v. 1b-3)? This section, to me, seemed very difficult until I realized that the last of verse 1 through verse 3 was a statement made by the enemy to David! This is just one of many occasions where I think the verse divisions were not helpful to the reader (me)! When one reads this and sees that the enemy is speaking from verse 1 through verse 3, the rest of the psalm makes much more sense. Verses 4-7 are then David’s answer to his enemy!
Putting the praise and the accusations side-by-side, we have a song declaring David’s trust in the Lord in everything (v. 1).
- Why would he flee to the mountain (v. 1) when God is on the throne in Heaven (v. 4)?
- Why fear man’s bows and arrows (v. 2) when God can rain down fire and brimstone (v. 6)?
- Finally, “If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do” (v. 3)? This statement is true and scary when taken on its own. I believe I have read articles and heard sermons concerning “if the foundations are destroyed.” Remember, in context, this statement was made by an enemy who assumed the foundations could be destroyed! They will not be destroyed so long as God is on His throne (v. 4), condemning the wicked (v. 6), and allowing the upright to behold His face (v. 7)!
Thus, David can take courage!
When I observe this world and see many wicked things happening, I get depressed. I wonder what “I” can do. I get even more depressed when I see “I” can do nothing on my own (Jn. 15:5). Perhaps David thought this way at times. I know Asaph did (Ps. 73)! Psalm 11 is God’s inspired encouragement to David (and us, Rom. 15:4) that regardless of how bad things may look through your eyes, you can be encouraged, strengthened, and ready to face the enemy when we look at things through God’s eyes!
God has an answer for whatever man might throw at us. If you deny this, read Psalm 11 again (and again) until you get it!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
Jeremiah is well-known for being “the weeping prophet.” Passages such as Jeremiah 4:19, 9:1, 13:16-17, and 14:17 make it clear that this description was well-earned. Make no mistake; his crying was not because he was some wimpy, weak character. He was not crying for fear, or some selfish reason, or because he was ashamed. Instead, he wept over the sins of the people of Israel. Similarly, we see Jesus doing this when He was on earth. In fact, He was referred to as the “man of sorrows” (Isa. 53:3; Matt. 26:37; Luke 19:41; John 11:35).
Jeremiah wept over the sins of the people. I suggest that the language he uses shows he thought himself unable to cry a sufficient amount over the sins committed in his land. In Jeremiah 9:1, it is written, “Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!”
Compare Jeremiah’s attitude toward sin with the “majority’s” attitude. Let me also challenge you to compare how the brethren act toward sin today with how Jeremiah acted toward sin in his day. Jeremiah wanted to cry and wished his eyes could be a “fountain” to cry over the sins committed by God’s people continually. He understood that sin was not a joke or a game. Sin is not a myth or something made up to scare children into behaving. Sin is real, and it is deadly (Jas. 1:15)! The passage that teaches us that “Fools make a mock at sin” (Prov. 14:9) is still true!
Why did Jeremiah weep over the people’s sin? All one has to do is look into Scripture and see how God describes sin to know why it is a cause for crying. Below are four descriptions. God describes sin as:
- An indelible stain (Isa. 1:18)
- A heavy weight (Heb. 12:1)
- A trespass (Eph. 2:1)
- Putrifying sores (Isa. 1:6)
How could this not make us cry if we saw someone in this condition physically (stained, wounded, filled with sores, etc.)? Though we cannot see the spiritual effects of sin, when God looks upon us, He sees it! We see the effects of sin when we see the physical results. When we see the drug addict and the wino, when we see the person who has STDs or suffering from the torture of having killed a baby through abortion, we see the effects of sin in people’s lives. When we see the person who is racked with guilt because he has stolen from others or has been abusive to a child or spouse, we see someone suffering with the consequences of sin. Our jails are filled with those who broke man’s law, but if we look closely, many have also broken God’s law!
I say this not with arrogance, but in the spirit of Jeremiah – how we might wish our heads were waters and our eyes were a fountain of tears to be able to weep over what we see in our generation in this country! Oh that we might weep over the sins committed by brethren at times! We have Christians that ought to know better, but they still commit sins before God. Let us remember that sin is as deadly for the Christian as for the non-Christian (Ezek. 18:20; Jas. 1:15). It is not a game or a joke and will lead us to Hell finally if we do not repent. Is that not another reason that tears might flow? Let them flow for the ones who seem determined to go to Hell and will not make a change (Matt. 7:13)!
God stands ready and willing to accept those who will come to Him (Matt. 11:28-30; Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38; II Pet 3:9; Rev. 22:14). Who will do it? Should not this fact motivate us to go and find those who are lost and bring them to the Lord before it is too late? Let us be encouraged to find them! Let our tears not cause us to quit, but through tears, let us be motivated with an urgency to tell lost souls about the Lord before it is too late!
Jeremiah teaches us that there is no shame in weeping when we are weeping over the right things!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
Where did the people come from that brought God’s word in Bible days? Did they come from Jerusalem? Did they come from Samaria? How about Dan or Beersheba? In truth, they come from those places and many more. Some came from small villages on the edge of Philistia (Micah 1:1, 14)! Some came from obscure places like Tishbe (I Kings 17:1), while still others come from far-flung villages like Nazareth (Matt. 2:23)! It may surprise you where the men come from who preach the gospel of Christ today! Some come from large cities or even foreign countries, while still others were born and raised in small communities you might never see or visit in your life. A dear friend of mine told me he grew up in a town that does not exist! I have been to the area where he grew up and can attest that his words were true. The town does not exist!
Why say these things? I write as a reminder that the power of the gospel does not rest with men. It does not rest in the towns where men live, nor does it rest in the things that provide “comfort” or “familiarity” to us. Instead, the gospel has its own power. The gospel saves us (Rom. 1:16-17) and does so by its own intrinsic power. When someone is saved from his sin through faith, repentance, and baptism (Acts 2:38; Mk. 16:16), it is the result of that person hearing, believing, and obeying the gospel (Rom. 10:13-16; Heb. 5:9, 11:6). It is not because of the eloquence of a man’s voice (I Cor. 2:1-5), nor is it because the one teaching came from the “right area,” the “well-known” part of the world, he attended the “right college,” or was raised in the “right” family according to men’s standards.
God “hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence” (I Cor. 1:27-29). When we read in the Bible about Morasheth, Tishbe, Dan, Gilead, Beersheba, Jerusalem, Samaria, and even Nazareth, let us not be distracted by those places (or even their pronunciation in some cases!). Instead, let us focus on the fact that a messenger of God came from there, and it is the message of God to which we need to give heed (Micah 1:1)! Had folks done this in Micah’s day, perhaps even more would have been saved. If people focused on the message from the Man from Nazareth instead of worrying about His pedigree (Jn. 1:46, 7:41-42; Lk. 4:22), perhaps even more could have been saved! Today it is no different. We need to listen to the message rather than focusing on the outward appearance of the messenger (Rom. 1:16; II Tim. 4:2)! Is his message from God’s word (I Pet. 4:11)? Then accept and obey it, not because a certain man said it but because the message is from God! If it is not from God, reject the message and rebuke the messenger (Eph. 5:11; II Jn. 9-11)! Not because the man was from the “wrong place,” but because the message is false (II Pet. 2:1-3)!
It is fun to know people’s origins or “backstories,” isn’t it? Likewise, it is exciting to think of a person’s life in a remote or “exotic” location. However, let us not become so distracted by things like these that we do not focus on what is important. Micah the Morasthite spoke a message from the Lord, and people needed to listen (then and today, Rom. 15:4)! Likewise, Jesus of Nazareth has a message for us (Heb. 1:2), and we need to listen so that we will save ourselves and save those we teach as we strive toward Heaven (I Tim. 4:16)!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs