The Man Who Worships God – Psalm 15 & Selected Scriptures

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Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
June 11, 2019

The Man Who Worships God
Psalm 15 & Selected Scriptures

Introduction

In recognition of Father’s Day, I want to look at the character qualities of the godly man described in Psalm 15. These are qualities that all men should strive to develop. While I will primarily be addressing the men this morning, let me quickly remind you ladies that you have a great influence upon others, so you need to also pay close attention so that you can encourage the men in your life to develop these qualities. Wives to your husbands. Mothers to your sons. Grandmothers to your grandsons. And for you single ladies that are interested in finding a husband, these are the character qualities you should be looking for in a man. Just as Proverbs 31 describes the character qualities a godly woman will want to develop in her life and a godly man will look for in a wife, so Psalm 15 describes the character qualities a godly man will want to develop in his life and a godly woman will look for in a husband.

Turn to Psalm 15. I will begin by reading through the Psalm and give a little background on it. I will then examine the meaning of each stanza and point out some examples of these qualities in specific men. It is my desire to both explain and motivate you to press on in developing these characteristics of godliness in your own life.

Psalm 15

O LORD, who may abide in Thy tent?
Who may dwell on Thy holy hill?

He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness,
And speaks truth in his heart.

He does not slander with his tongue,
Nor does evil to his neighbor,
Nor takes up a reproach against his friend;

In whose eyes a reprobate is despised,
But who honors those who fear the LORD;
He swears to his own hurt, and does not change;

He does not put out his money at interest,
Nor does he take a bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things will never be shaken.

This is a Psalm of David and was probably written about the time he had the Ark of God moved to Jerusalem as recorded in 2 Samuel 6. Psalm 24 is a companion Psalm of similar content. The Psalm opens with two questions of qualification which are then answered in four stanzas that each give three answers to the qualification questions.

Who Can Be in God’s Presence? Psalm 15:1

Psalm 15:1 begins with two questions. “O Lord, who may abide in Thy tent? Who may dwell on Thy holy hill?” Both of these questions deal with the same subject of who could approach God and be in His presence. The answer to those questions are very important to those who desire to worship God. These questions indicate the Psalm was generated out of the occasion when the Ark of the Covenant was moved to Jerusalem.

Perhaps David was concerned that the worship of God might degenerate into mere ritual in the future, if so, this Psalm is an excellent reminder that the true nature of worship is best seen in the character of those who come to worship the Lord. The very quest to give proper honor to our God and creator demands humility from the worshiper which in turn will encourage the development of the qualities of godliness.

The two questions are a natural response generated by David’s first attempt to bring the Ark to Jerusalem which failed because they were doing things their own way instead of God’s way. Though we recognize Uzzah would have had good motives in helping to move the Ark to Jerusalem, he and the others were in direct disobedience to God’s commands about how the Ark of the Covenant was to be moved detailed in Exodus 25:14 and Numbers 4:15. Only Levites who were descendants of Kohath could carry the Ark on its poles, and only priests who were descendants of Aaron could touch the ark in preparing it to be moved. And while we also recognize a good motive in not wanting the ark to be damaged when it was jostled in the ox cart, it was irreverent for him to touch the ark. It was God’s mercy that He only struck Uzzah dead on the spot and not also the others present for they were all guilty (2 Samuel 6:6-7). God’s work must be done God’s way. The natural question that would have arisen after this incident is who was qualified to be in such close proximity to God? Who can abide in God’s tent and dwell on His holy hill in His presence?

The point of the question is not “who may live in your tent and set up residence on your holy hill.” The words for “abide” and “dwell” used here are more temporary in nature and might be better translated as “sojourn” or “stay.” Although at the same time, we do need to keep in mind that those who are qualified to sojourn in God’s tent on His holy hill are the same ones who will live with Him forever. We might rephrase David’s questions of God as, “O Lord, who is qualified to come to You? Who will you accept when he comes to Thy house? Who may come to worship you?”

The answer in the Psalm may seem surprising in comparison to many other passages of Scripture. For it seems that the usual answer given is centered around spiritual issues such as faith, belief, the heart, etc., yet this Psalm sets forth the qualifications in very practical terms. There is good reason for that for Jesus said in Matthew 12 that the mouth reveals the heart and James 2 makes it clear that the works of a person reveal their faith. Though the qualifications in this Psalm set forth practical actions, the underlying understanding is that a person’s actions do reveal what is in his heart.

A Man of Integrity, Righteousness, Truthfulness Psalm 15:2

The first descriptions of the man that can come to worship God are three general characteristics:

1. He Walks in Integrity

2. He Works Righteousness

3. His Word is truthful from the heart.

First, he walks in integrity. The KJV says that he “walketh uprightly.” This word has a broad meaning with the central idea being to be complete in moral conduct. A person who walks with integrity is a person whose character is decent, moral, honest, honorable, respectable.The KJV “uprightly” is a good description. C.H. Spurgeon likened this to a man walking a tight rope. He stands straight up and does not sway in either direction, or he will fall.

This particular word is used to described Noah, David and Job. In the case of Noah, it had become a unique quality among men. Genesis 6:5 describes mankind at that time as wicked with “every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” In stark contrast was Noah who is described in verse 9 as “a righteous man, blameless in his time; Noah walked with God.” The godly man has integrity. He will walk uprightly with God regardless of what everyone else around him may do.

Second, he works righteousness. This is of course the natural outgrowth of walking in integrity for such a man will work righteousness with his conduct proving he is of blameless character. He does that which is right and just reflecting God’s character and law.This man’s faith is alive because it is put into practice. James 2:17 states, “faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.” Salvation is by God’s grace working through the faith that God gives us (Ephesians 2:8), and when God gives faith, it will result in works because “we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).

This was a quality that marked Job and one that he held to even in the midst of his despair. Job 1:1 describes him as “blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil.” It was bad enough that Job had lost his wealth, his family and was suffering physical anguish from the boils covering his body. His wife told him to curse God and die instead of holding to his integrity. Then his friends began to attack claiming his suffering must have been caused by some sin he did. One of his defenses was that his “righteousness was still in it” (Job 6:29), and that he had “put on righteousness, and it clothed me” (Job 29:14). Job was frustrated, but he knew his own character which is why he still sought God even when he did not know why he was suffering so.

Third, his word is truthful from the heart. One of the quickest revelations of a man’s heart is what comes out of his mouth (Matthew 15:18). James 3:2 goes so far as to say that “If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well.”However, take note that David does not just say a “man who speaks truth, “ but a man who “speaks truth in his heart.” There are those who are shallow in their speech. They say what they think others want them to say. Politicians are notorious for saying what will get votes during the campaign but then do the opposite after being elected. But the man of integrity, the man of blameless conduct, speaks from out of his heart and what is there is truth! He will speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15), but he will speak the truth regardless of what those listening would like him to say, and he remains steadfast to the truth.

This was a quality for which Hezekiah was praised in 2 Chronicles 31:20, Thus Hezekiah did throughout all Judah; and he did what was good, right and true before the LORD his God. 21 Every work which he began in the service of the house of God in law and in commandment, seeking his God, he did with all his heart and prospered.

This was a necessary characteristic God required of those Moses would choose to be elders in Israel (Exodus 18:21). It is a part of the characteristic of “being above reproach” required of Elders in the church.

The man that can come to the mountain of God *Walks in integrity, *Works righteousness and his *Words are truth from the heart. These attributes are his enduring qualities.

A Man Who Avoids Sin Psalm 15:3

David lists three specific sins that are avoided.

He does not slander with his tongue,

Nor does evil to his neighbor,

Nor takes up a reproach against his friend;

The man who walks in integrity, works righteousness and whose words are truth from the heart will avoid using his tongue to lie, work evil against his neighbor or join in defaming a friend. All of these were strictly against Levitical law (Exodus 23).

Avoids Slander. The word translated slander here has a root meaning of to spy, to explore. This slander is the not just the repeating of lies and half truths against someone else. It is anything said in such a way as to maliciously tear down the character of someone else. Slander is a characteristic of the wicked (Psalm 50:20), and the true worshiper of God will refrain it. Slander is often accompanied by an effort to build yourself up by comparison. Those who are part of the body of Christ are to be building each other up, not tearing each other down!

Galatians 6:1-2 tells us that even when a brother has a weakness and is caught it sin, it our duty before God is to go to that brother and “bear one another’s burdens.” We are to help him to overcome the weakness and sin and not just point out his failure. Jesus warned in Matthew 7 and Paul in Galatians 6 that we are to also examine ourselves before looking at the faults of others. Why? Because when you do seriously examine yourself you quickly realize that you also still have a long way to go and are only where you are at by God’s grace and mercy. This helps you to approach a sinning brother with the proper humility instead of arrogance. Avoid slandering others. Seeking gain for yourself by tearing someone else down is a rotting foundation.

2 Samuel 16:2-4 records that Ziba did this to Jonathan’s son, Mephibosheth, in an effort to gain control over his master’s property.2 Samuel 19:24-30 records that Mephibosheth later defended himself but did not act in kind. He was humble and simply entrusted himself to the king’s decision.

Avoids doing Evil. The Godly man also avoids practicing any evil against his neighbor. This is stating negatively what was stated positively in verse 2. A man who works righteousness and is therefore blameless in conduct is not going to also work evil against his neighbor. Actions demonstrate the character of a person whether righteous or evil.

David is an excellent example of this. David had already been anointed by Samuel as the rightful king, yet he was still fleeing Saul who wanted to kill David in order to remain king. Twice, David had the opportunity to kill Saul (1 Samuel 24:1-22; 26:5-25), yet he refused to do so because he believed it would be evil for him or the men with him to lift up their hands against Saul, whom he called, “the Lord’s anointed.” He would wait until God removed Saul.

Avoids Reproaching a Friend. The man who can come to God’s holy hill will also avoid taking up a reproach of a friend. This is actually stronger than it may seem at first glance in English. The idea of not “taking up” does not mean that he does not join in, it refers to not even “receiving” it.This man not only refrains from slander, but when slander against his friend is brought in his presence, he seeks to put a stop to it. He will call gossip what it is and rebuke the one spreading it.

Do you know the quickest way to stop gossip? Pursue the truth. Challenge the person spreading the gossip to go with you to your friend to repeat what they said face to face. It will be rare that they will agree to do it, but if they do, then both sides are heard and truth can be discerned. Gossip has destroyed friendships, families and the fellowship in many churches and ministries. Proverbs has much to say about the subject: 10:18 “He who conceals hatred has lying lips, And he who spreads slander is a fool.” 11:9 With his mouth the godless man destroys his neighbor, But through knowledge the righteous will be delivered. 16:27-28 A worthless man digs up evil, While his words are as a scorching fire. A perverse man spreads strife, And a slanderer separates intimate friends.17:4 An evildoer listens to wicked lips, A liar pays attention to a destructive tongue. 26:20-21 For lack of wood the fire goes out, And where there is no whisperer, contention quiets down. Like charcoal to hot embers and wood to fire, So is a contentious man to kindle strife. Stop gossip by refusing to receive it and rebuking the one spreading it.

This was the failure of Job’s friends which he specifically points out to them in Job 16:10 and 19:5. The despairing man should receive kindness from his friends (6:14) instead of reproach.

King Jehoshaphat of Judah demonstrated this characteristic in rebuking King Ahab of Israel for disparaging the prophet Micaiah because he did not prophesy good concerning King Ahab (1 Kings 22:8 / 2 Chronicles 18:7). Jehoshaphat may not have even known Micaiah, but he knew it was wrong to reproach a prophet of the Lord.

The man who can come to God and truly worship Him will refrain from speaking slander himself, he does not do evil to his neighbor, and he will not receive gossip. In addition, he knows who deserves honor, who does not, and is steadfast in keeping his promises.

A Man Discerning and Steadfast Psalm 15:4

In whose eyes a reprobate is despised, But who honors those who fear the Lord; He swears to his own hurt and does not change.

Despises the Reprobate. This stanza of the Psalm expresses the discernment of the godly man beginning with being able to recognize those who have a vile character and viewing them with contempt. That is the opposite of what has become common in our culture in which reprobates are applauded for their sinful deeds and others mimic their wretchedness. While we still pray for them and seek the salvation of even the most wicked, it is proper to have an aversion to those whose evil conduct brings disgust.

Elisha demonstrated this with King Jehoram when he had been called at the urging of King Jehoshaphat. 2 Kings 3:13-14, Now Elisha said to the king of Israel, “What do I have to do with you? Go to the prophets of your father and to the prophets of your mother.” And the king of Israel said to him, “No, for the LORD has called these three kings together to give them into the hand of Moab.” 14 Elisha said, “As the LORD of hosts lives, before whom I stand, were it not that I regard the presence of Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, I would not look at you nor see you.

Elisha did right on behalf of Jehoshaphat and a great victory was won over Moab, but he also made known his disdain for Jehoram’s idolatry.

Honors the Godly. On the opposite end of the scale, we are to honor those who fear the Lord. This is honor gladly given to those with godly character as contrasted with the honor required because of position of authority such as commanded in Romans 13:7. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge and wisdom, and it results in a love of righteousness and a hatred of evil.

The particular word here is also used of King Hezekiah in 2 Chronicles 32:33, So Hezekiah slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the upper section of the tombs of the sons of David; and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem honored him at his death. Hezekiah was honored because of his character which was marked by fear of the Lord. The greatest demonstration of this was trusting God during the invasion by Sennacherib and seeing God have an angel destroy the Assyrian army in one night (2 Kings 18-19; 2 Chronicles 32; Isaiah 36-37).

Keeps his Word. This godly man’s character is also seen in how he keeps his promises. The end of verse four says He swears to his own hurt, and does not change. This is not referring to someone promising to do stupid things that are harmful to himself and then being stubborn about it. It is referring to the man who thoughtfully agrees to a contract, but when things turn sour and he knows he will lose on the deal, he remains faithful to uphold his end of the contract. The godly man lives out Proverbs 22:1 ‘A good name is to be more desired than great riches, Favor is better than silver and gold.” Personal integrity is more important to the godly man than financial gain or avoiding personal difficulty. Spurgeon said, “the most far-seeing trader may enter into engagements which turn out to be serious losses, but whatever else he loses, if he keeps his honor, his losses will be bearable; if that be lost, all is lost.”

Joshua is an excellent example of this characteristic. Joshua 9 records that the Gibeonites deceived him into making a peace covenant with them. When Joshua and the elders found out about the deception, they still kept their word. Joshua 9:18-20, The sons of Israel did not strike them because the leaders of the congregation had sworn to them by the LORD the God of Israel. And the whole congregation grumbled against the leaders. 19 But all the leaders said to the whole congregation, “We have sworn to them by the LORD, the God of Israel, and now we cannot touch them. 20 “This we will do to them, even let them live, so that wrath will not be upon us for the oath which we swore to them.”

A Man Ethical in Finances Psalm 15:5

He does not put out his money at interest, Nor does he take a bribe against the innocent.

No Usury. The ungodly are lovers of money leading to all sorts of sin including the practice of usury which exploited the poor by loaning money to the desperate at high interest rates causing them to sink further into debt. Exodus 22:25, Leviticus 25:35-38 and Deuteronomy 23:19 expressly forbid usury and instead command the poor to be sustained and loaned without interest. It was to be an extension of God’s graciousness to someone else. The godly will extend the mercy and grace they have received from the Lord whom they worship to others.

When Nehemiah arrived in Jerusalem he found a mess. Not only were the walls still down, but the wealthy were exploiting the poor. Nehemiah 5 records his rebuke of them for this with verse 10 adding, “And likewise I, my brothers and my servants, are lending them money and grain. Please, let us leave off this usury.”

The early church went a step beyond this in providing for those in need by freely sharing. Acts 4:36-37 records that Joseph of Cyprus, also known as Barnabas, sold a tract of land and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet for distribution to those in need.

No Bribes. Another way the ungodly will exploit others is to take a bribe against the innocent. They will give up their integrity and speak lies in order to gain financially or personally. This would include both those paid to lie against others or a judge accepting a bribe to determine his decision. This perverts justice (Exodus 23:8; Proverbs 17:23) and brings God’s curse (Deuteronomy 27:25). The godly man refuses all bribes.

1 Samuel 8:3 records that bribery was one of the reasons Eli’s sons were rejected and his descendants cursed. Multiple passages cite bribery and its resulting perverting of justice as a reason Judah went into captivity (Isaiah 1, 5; Micah 3, etc.). The godly man cannot be bribed for truth, justice and his own integrity are more important to him than anything that might be offered to him.

SteadfastPsalm 15:5

The last sentence in verse 5 gives the final characteristic of the godly man. He who does these things will never be shaken. He is steadfast, unmovable. The storms of life will come, but the strength of his faith will hold, for it is in his heart and it has already been demonstrated outwardly. He is a house built upon solid rock that can withstand the wind and the waves. The ungodly have built their houses on the shifting sands of human wisdom and they will fall.

The hall of faith in Hebrews 11 lists many who stood firm in their faith in the midst of adversity. They are examples to us of what we should also do and what you can do if you walk by faith and demonstrate your trust in the Lord by keeping His word. Just as an athlete is strengthened through exercise, the godly man’s faith is increased by its testing. James 1:3-4 states the testing of faith produces endurance which leads to maturity. Romans 5:3-8 ties facing trials to perseverance to proven character to hope grounded in God’s love proven when Christ died for sinners. Believers will have a faith that continues to increase in strength as long as they keep their eyes on Christ. True worshipers of God will not stumble because in practicing these things they are walking in godliness.

I pray that each person here will be like the man described in this Psalm. Pursue that yourself and encourage those around you to do the same.

Sermon Notes – 6/16/2019

The Man Who Worships God Psalm 15 & Selected Scriptures

Introduction

Psalm 15 lists __________________ qualities that every Christian should strive to develop

It is a Psalm of David probably written about the time the Ark of the Covenant was __________to Jerusalem

Who Can Be in God’s Presence? Psalm 15:1

This Psalm is a reminder that true worship is best seen in the __________of those who come to worship

The questions are a response to David’s first attempt to move the Ark which resulted in Uzzah’s _________

“Abide” and “dwell” used here are temporary in nature and refer to who may come __________the Lord

Psalm 15 sets the qualifications for being in God’s presence in very __________actions that reveal the heart

A Man of Integrity, Righteousness, Truthfulness Psalm 15:2

He Walks in Integrity (KJV = “walketh uprightly”)

Conduct that is decent, moral, ____________, respectable

Used to describe Job, David and _________who did so despite the perverse world he lived in (Gen. 6:5-9)

He Works Righteousness – conduct that proves his character

Saved by God’s grace through faith that _______(James 2:17), created in Christ Jesus for that (Eph. 2:8-10)

_______ had this character and used it as a defense against the slanders against him (Job 1:1; 6:29; 29:14)

His Word is Truthful from the Heart– for what comes out of the _________reveals the heart (Mt. 15:18)

The man of integrity speaks __________in love from his heart and remains steadfast in it

The description of _____________ in 2 Chronicles 31:20 includes this quality

This was required for the elders serving with Moses, and is part of being “above reproach” for church _____

A Man Who Avoids Sin Psalm 15:3

Avoids Slander – which includes both lies and efforts to maliciously _____________the character of others

Christians are to humbly “bear one another’s burdens” and _______________ the weak, not tear them down

Ziba slandered Jonathan’s son, ________________, but he did not act in kind (2 Samuel 16:2-4; 19:24-30)

Avoids doing Evil – a negative statement corresponding to the positive statement of works righteousness

David twice ______________ killing Saul when he had opportunity (1 Samuel 24:1-22; 26:5-25)

Avoids Reproaching a Friend – he will not even _____________ it from others

The fastest way to stop gossip is to pursue ___________

___________has many warnings about gossip & slander (Proverbs 10:18; 11:9; 16:27-28; 17:4; 26:20-21)

Job’s friends _________ in this area adding to his grief (Job 6:14; 16:10; 19:5)

King _________________rebuked King Ahab for disparaging the prophet Micaiah (1 Kings 22:8)

A Man Discerning and Steadfast Psalm 15:4

Despises the Reprobate – the opposite of what is common in our culture of lauding the wicked

__________ treated King Jehoram this way because of his idolatry – 2 Kings 3:13-14

Honors the Godly – This is honor gladly given to those with godly character

__________ received such honor (2 Chron. 32:33), for he was man that trusted God (2 Kings 18-19)

Keeps his Word – this refers to _____________your end of a contract even if you end up losing on the deal

Personal __________is more important to the godly man than financial gain or avoiding personal difficulty

__________kept his word to the Gibeonites even after he found out they had deceived him (Joshua 9:18-20)

A Man Ethical in Finances Psalm 15:5

No Usury – the ungodly love money and _______the poor. The godly love people extending mercy to them

______________rebuked the rich for violating God’s law (Lev. 25:35-38) and loaned without usury himself

The early church ________with one other freely even selling property to raise needed finance (Acts 4:32-37)

No Bribes because they ___________justice (Exod. 23:8; Prov. 17:23) and bring God’s curse (Deut. 27:25)

Bribes were a cause of the _________of Eli’s sons and a curse on his family, and Judah going into captivity

SteadfastPsalm 15:5

The godly man _______the storms of life and his faith is strengthened by them (James 1:3-4; Romans 5:3-8)

Hebrews 11 presents many examples of those who __________________in the midst of adversity

True worshipers of God will not stumble because in practicing these things they are walking in __________

KIDS KORNER
Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help.Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children – Do one or more of the following: 1) Count how many times the word “godly” is used. 2) Talk with your parents about the characteristics given in Psalm 15 and how you can develop those in your life.

THINK ABOUT IT!
Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others. How connection might Psalm 15 have with the death of Uzzah 2 Samuel 6? What did they do wrong? What is integrity and how do you walk in it? What is the relationship of salvation and works of righteousness? Why is truth so important? What is slander and why is it so dangerous and damaging? How should Christians act toward another believer who is caught in sin? Why didn’t David kill Saul when he had the opportunity (1 Samuel 24, 26)? What is the fastest and best way to stop gossip? What does it mean to despise a reprobate? What is the fear of the Lord and why would that bring honor to a person? Why is it so important to keep your promises? What is usury? How is that used to exploit the poor? How are the poor to be treated? How do bribes pervert justice? What is the result of the testing of faith of a godly person (James 1:2-4; Romans 5:3-8)? How will the qualities in this Psalm keep a person from stumbling?


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