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poetry

Psalm 15: Who May Go and Stay?

Psalm 15 is hard news. It may come across as a such high standard of righteousness that its promises to be with God are unattainable and beyond hope of reaching. We read it, and move on rather than letting it do its work in us in prayer. So here are a few ways as to how to let it work in us.

Firstly, just admit it. You can’t do it, live up to it, or achieve it. You need help. Ask for it. Examine yourself according to it, and if you find yourself lacking, turn to God and believe. He can work this kind of integrity and truth in us. He desires truth in the ‘inmost place,’ and he is able to work truth there.

Secondly, Psalm 15 is a picture of the heart of faith. By this I don’t mean ‘heart’ as in ‘core.’ — the central part of faith, but rather I mean what faith loves. Faith longs to be with God, faith speaks sincerely, loves the truth and one’s neighbor. Faith is merciful and patient. It doesn’t love wickedness, neither is faith drawn to it. Faith loves what is lovely, and so faith esteems the honorable. Faith loves fidelity and so it keeps promises. Faith does not seek to undermine truth by letting it be bought and sold to the highest bidder. Faith over time leads to faithfulness, and faithfulness is righteousness — that person, rather than working to deserve getting God, is the person who is always pursuing God. Faithfulness and righteousness are indivisible.

Lastly, in reading Psalm 15, one must apply the gospel. God does not remain above and expect us get ourselves there or else. God is the one who is truthful. God descends, he ‘rends the heavens and comes down.’ He comes to us to take us to where he abides. God himself is the one who “swears to his own hurt and changeth not.” And so, what he promises those who in faith turn to him, he is able to bring about. He will do it. What is our part? It is to ‘abide in him.’ And in ‘staying with him’ we find ourselves immoveable.

Here is the ordinary prayer paraphrase of Psalm 15.

Who may go with you to where you stay?
Who may make a home in the House where you abide?

I”ll tell you who:
The one in whom there is no fault–
And from his heart, truth can’t help but leak out.
Who doesn’t murder with words
And they do not one wrong thing to their neighbor.
When his friend is pulled down, he doesn’t pile on,
And she can’t stand to look at what no one should,
But they hold in high esteem those who live knowing God is watching.
They are those who make a promise and keep it, even if it hurts;
She doesn’t lend demanding more in return,
And His good word can’t be bought.

They who are faithful shall stay, and no one make them move.

© Randall Edwards 2020. This paraphrase of Psalm 15 is for Christ’s church. If it is helpful, please feel free to copy or reprint in church bulletins, read aloud, or repost. I only ask that an attribution be cited to myself (Randall Edwards) and this blog (backwardmutters.com)

By randamir

I pastor Grace Presbyterian Church in Kernersville, North Carolina which locals fondly refer to as K-vegas -- the town not the church. As D.T. Niles once said, "I am not important except to God."

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