March 4: Psalm 15

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March 4: Psalm 15
Who may abide with the Lord?

Common meter 86.86             Azmon (O, for a Thousand Tongues to Sing), p. 49
St. Anne (O God, Our Help in Ages Past), p. 39

Lord, who may dwell within Your house, or on Your holy hill?

Those who do good and speak the truth, Whose lives are blameless still;

Who have no guile upon their tongues, nor harm their neighbor’s life,

But honor those who fear the Lord, and turn away from strife;

Who do no wrong, but keep their word, and seek no bribe or gain;

All those who do such things shall live and safe from harm remain.

In Psalm 15, that most essential and burdened of questions is asked: “Lord, who will abide in Your tabernacle, or who may dwell on Thy holy hill?” A first feature to be noted about this repeated query is the implied supposition that there really does exist some kind of moral program to be followed. Humans cannot help but sense that, in order to abide in God’s tabernacle, there truly is something that we must “do.” A second feature of this moral question is what we may call its implied eschatology. That is to say, the inquiry infers that we are supposed to end up somewhere other than where we are now. Our lives are to be lived as a journey toward some determined destination, and this question has something to do with making sure that we are pointed toward that destination. A third feature of this biblical question is that it is invariably answered with some kind of command: “Believe;” “Repent;” “Love justice;” “Be baptized;” “Take up your cross.” And a fourth feature of this query is its implication of an ascent. Mountains must be mounted, and we know that going up is more difficult than going down. Whatever the answer to the moral question, then, we can be certain that it will involve stern effort, struggle, and adherence to irrevocable duty. The remaining lines of this psalm give answer to its original question: “He who walks blamelessly…works righteousness…speaks truth…does no evil…takes no bribe…this one will never be shaken.” (Reardon, p.27-28)

Of course, Jesus Himself said in Luke 18:19 that there is no one good but God alone, and the only one who can truly ascend the hill of the Lord is the one Man who is perfectly good and righteous. We can abide with God only when we are abiding in Christ. Praise be to God for the righteousness of Christ, whereby we have been given access to the throne of grace, and wherein we “stimulate one another to love and good deeds.” (Hebrews 10: 19-25)

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