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
Psalm 8 is a psalm of praise to the God of Heaven (v. 1, 9). It is very straightforward and reminds us of the majesty of God and the place of man, God’s creation. The words of this psalm capture a man who is in awe of His God (v. 3-4).
This psalm holds a special place because there are sections that are connected with Jesus and His work on earth. The first place is recorded in verse 2. When Jesus entered Jerusalem during His last week, the children cried, “Hosanna to the son of David,” and displeased the chief priests and elders (Matt. 21:15). When they confronted Jesus about this, Christ asked them if they had never read Psalm 8:2. The children understood and declared the truth boldly when others might have been afraid to do so.
The beauty of God’s creation is apparent to all – even the smallest and weakest among us! Note in Matthew 21:15 that the weak ones showed the most strength as they spoke boldly and without fear before the leaders of the people. Do we not stand amazed at our children’s sincerity, boldness, and, yes, bluntness? Perhaps while we are teaching our children about life and the Lord (Eph. 6:4), we need to stop and learn some lessons from them (I Cor. 14:20)!
Jesus thought this was the case because when the chief priests and elders confronted Jesus, He reminded them of Psalm 8:2. Yes, from the mouths of babes (children), Thou has perfected praise! Is there anything more precious to our ears than hearing small children sing praises to God at the top of their lungs or hear them speak about their love for Jesus, whom they have not met (I Pet. 1:8-9; Jn. 20:29)?
When David considered the power of God, His majesty, and might, all he could do was ask, “What is man that thou art mindful of him?” (Ps. 8:4). I encourage you to go out on a starry night and really watch and take in the amazing night sky. Stand and watch the ocean waves on a sunny day, or gaze at the “purple mountain’s majesty,” and you will repeat the words of David here!
Last, notice the description of man in v. 5-7. Here, we not only see a connection with Genesis 1:26-28 but also with Christ, as described in Hebrews 2:6-10. Jesus Christ came to the earth, lived as a man, and died upon the cross so that we might be saved. Just as man is “a little lower than the angels,” this is the position Jesus took (Phil. 2:5-10) that He might show us how to face temptation (Heb. 4:15; Matt. 4:1-11), and He might be the perfect sacrifice for man’s sin!
Thus, in a psalm praising God for His majesty and in awe of His power and the glory bestowed to man, we today stand in awe of how this perfect praise points to a perfect Savior!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
Psalm 5 “Another Morning Prayer”
Here we have another morning prayer offered to God in song (Ps. 5:2-3). In it, we find praise to God for His character and the condemnation of the character of evil men. It clarifies what kind of God David (and we) are worshipping (Jn. 4:24; Josh. 24:14). Jehovah is not like the pagan gods of the nations. Those gods were often portrayed as nothing more than glorified men. They would act like men, sin as men, etc. David declares that God does not take pleasure in wickedness (v. 4). He hates all who work iniquity (v. 5; Heb. 1:9).
Note the contrast as David prays God will destroy the evildoers (v. 6, 9-10) while praying for God’s fellowship when doing righteously (v. 7-8, 11-12). This recurring theme is taught throughout the Old and New Testaments. There is such a thing as right/wrong, as godly/ungodly, and we need to recognize the distinction. Our world wishes to blur these “lines” until we cannot tell righteous from unrighteous. Friends, that is a tactic of the devil. “Woe” to people who accept this false doctrine and act this way (Isa. 5:20-25).
There is a beauty in the simplicity of David’s prayer. At the same time, there is a depth that demands our contemplation. Though “selah” is not used in this psalm, it is proper to pause and consider what is said (II Cor. 13:5). Where do I fit in this psalm? Am I described in verses like 5-6 or 9-10? Am I described in verses like 7-9 or 11-12?
Verses 4 and 7 speak of evil not dwelling with God and of David going to God’s house. While this conjures up many thoughts, let me suggest that David is speaking of fellowship at its most basic. We will see this concept repeated throughout the psalms. David is focused on making sure he is in fellowship with God, and he often describes this with terms like dwelling in God’s house (v. 7; Ps. 23:6; etc.). In our modern thinking, we might equate this with Heaven, but I understand this to mean something David intends to experience on earth as well. Fellowship with God is realized now. While we look forward to Heaven one day, let us remember our fellowship and closeness with God are experienced while we are on earth.
Go back and read Psalm 5. Perhaps this is a psalm we need to pray every morning as David did!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
Nadab and Abihu (Lev. 10) get much attention from us because they are noted as doing something without God’s authority. I intend to write about this truth, but the first thing I want us to notice is that sin ruins everything it touches (Ecc. 9:18b)! Leviticus 10 teaches us this loud and clear!
As we read Leviticus 8-10, we see these chapters recording events happening on the same day – the “inauguration day” of the Tabernacle and the worship of God. On the same day that we see God’s beautiful plan in action, we also see things ruined when Nadab and Abihu sinned and “offered strange (foreign) fire before the Lord” (Lev. 10:1). Their act resulted in God killing them for their disobedience. How ironic that on the day in which God sent down fire to light the altar (Lev. 9:24), He then sent down fire to stop men from violating His command (Lev. 10:2).
Of course, this fire stopped them dead (Lev. 10:2)! Now, a father of four has had his children reduced by 50%! On the day intended to be dedicated to God and His worship, Aaron has to watch the bodies of his boys carried out of the camp (Lev. 10:4-5)! Yet, he can have no part in this, nor tell his boys goodbye (Lev. 10:6-7)! What a tragedy! What suffering! Yes, sin ruins everything!
How these things could have been avoided if these men had acted in a way pleasing to God and not when God had been silent. Their sin left a “dark cloud” over the events of the day and certainly hurt a loving father who no doubt had planned on working with his sons at the Tabernacle for many years!
It is no different today. When men yield to their lusts and sin, it will result in death every time (Jas. 1:14-15)! Sin does not build; it destroys. It destroyed man’s relationship with God in the Garden (Gen. 3:6). It destroyed man’s relationship with his family (Gen. 4:1-11). Sin destroyed people’s minds (Gen. 6:5). It then destroyed the lives of millions in Genesis 6-8! Friends note the destructive power of sin, just in the first few chapters of the Bible! This destruction continues throughout Bible history, and just as it destroyed the lives and unity of a family in Leviticus 10, so also sin destroys in the very same way today (Rom. 6:23)!
Since this is true, what is your view of sin? Is there any wonder why God’s people from Old and New Testament days preached a message of repentance? Repent of your sins or perish (Lk. 13:3, 5). God has commanded all men everywhere to repent (Acts 17:30). Now we know why! Turning back to God and following in the footsteps of Christ is the only thing that will save us from destruction! If the sons of Aaron had listened to God, they would have been spared an instant death! Just think of what you will avoid if you will repent of your sins today and obey the Lord (Heb. 5:9). Don’t continue down the path that leads to destruction. Instead, repent and walk in the path that leads to life (Matt. 7:13-14).
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
When we read through the first six chapters of Leviticus, we learn about five sacrifices. These are the burnt offering, grain (meat) offering, peace offering, the sin offering, and guilt offering. These offerings were essential to the lives of the Jews. Each one served a purpose in obtaining forgiveness for those who lived under the Mosaic law. In God’s mind, though, these things not only served an immediate purpose in the lives of the people, but also served the purpose of pointing people toward the ultimate sacrifice, the true culmination of all of God’s plans – Christ!
We see Christ in all of those sacrifices. For example, Christ is seen in …
- The burnt offering. Just as this offering was utterly consumed, so He gave Himself completely at the cross (Phil. 2:8; Matt. 20:28).
- The grain offering. Just as this sacrifice required bread, so Christ is “the bread of life” (Jn. 6:35).
- The peace offering. Just as this sacrifice symbolized the Jews’ fellowship restored, so Christ “is our peace” between us and God (Eph. 2:14; Col. 1:20).
- The sin offering. Just as this sacrifice was burned outside the camp, Christ was also sacrificed “outside the gate” of Jerusalem (Heb. 13:11-12).
- The guilt offering. Just as this demanded restitution of the guilty, Christ purchased us from Satan, “not with corruptible things … but with the precious blood of Christ” (I Pet. 1:18-19).
Is it not amazing to consider the seamlessness of God’s word? The things that occurred in the Old Testament pointed to the greatest sacrifice to ever walk the earth. Jesus fills this role as a sacrifice for mankind (and many others). He offered Himself that we might be free from sin, cleansed, and allowed to start again as “babes in Christ” (I Pet. 2:2)!
Yet the comparison in those Old Testament sacrifices does not end here. Just as we can see a spiritual connection between Christ and those sacrifices, remember, Christians are also a “royal priesthood,” and God intends for us to offer “spiritual sacrifices” (I Pet. 2:9, 5). Let us look at those sacrifices and see where the comparisons can be made in our lives.
- As a burnt offering, we are to offer ourselves to God completely (Gal. 2:20).
- As a grain offering (the only sacrifice without blood), we are to be living sacrifices, not dead ones (Rom. 12:1-2; II Cor. 5:14-15).
- As a peace offering, we enjoy fellowship with God now that we are forgiven (II Jn. 9; I Jn. 1:7; Matt. 5:9).
- As a sin offering, we “take up (our) cross daily and follow” Him (Lk. 9:23). Since we are following Him, where did He go? We need to follow Christ and “be separate” from the world (II Cor. 6:17)!
- As a guilt offering, we strive to make restitution for our sins. We cannot earn our salvation (Lk. 17:10), but we can repent of our sins (Acts 2:38) and be His servant so long as we live (Rom. 6:16-18)!
Christ is our sacrifice, but how have we responded to Him? The beauty and poetry of Scripture show us how the Old Testament sacrifices pointed to Christ. We now need to offer sacrifices but in a spiritual way. These also point us to Christ! Are we doing this? Do we give God all that He deserves?
- Jarrod M. Jacobs