Question – who is fit to serve the Lord in his house? Spend long periods in the next room to God? Tabernacle worship was style in David’s day, temple didn’t come till after. For sure, when pillar of cloud or fire was over Most Holy Place, God was on the other side of the curtain. Even when visible evidence was absent, God was not far away. Clearly seen in dramatic incident in David’s life – Incident with Uzzah. David and men took ark from Kiriath Jearim, intended destination Jerusalem, made it as far as Nachon’s threshing floor. David angry with God, afraid of God.Then, 3 months later, followed the rules for transportation, celebrating the return of the ark of covenant to Jerusalem (2 Sam. 6:1-16).
Perhaps can detect wistful longing in David’s voice, remembering what happened when Uzzah touched ark, wondering if he, a man of blood, could ever abide in God’s tent. And would God be satisfied with priests and Levites sanctified (set apart) for service to God? Somewhere along the way David had to come to terms with this principle: when it comes to worship, God has final say. What would that say be? Who is fit to approach God in worship?
From NT perspective, since God’s people are all king-priests (1 Pet. 2:9), who properly fits the description given by David; and what benefits can one expect who measures up? Perhaps if question asked again at end of passage, answer would have to be “no one; it’s an impossible standard”. Yet, in light of previous psalm, character shows in action; according to 1 John, character shows parentage. And,… key concept embedded in the question – abiding. Therein lies the fullness of the answer for both David and us.
Two questions asked in parallel, both have same point in view: what is definition / description of godly person? David answers, but not with list of spiritual duties – sacrifices, attendances, recitations, sorts of things that make good checklist for self and others. Instead, describes true religion, piety in action, how genuine Christianity informs and influences daily life. Will be apparent as we work down through text behaviors described apply mostly to setting outside “church”, during times of life other than corporate worship. Gives 10 behaviors, grouped into 4 categories of walking, talking, looking, leading.
A. walk v.2a, b
uprightly – blamelessly – unblemished
habit of life is to act with integrity
Christians, saith Tertullian, are as those that walk on ropes, if they tread but one step awry they are utterly gone.
think Nik Wallenda, high wire across Niagara; “Oh Lord, You’re my Savior, You’re my King,” praised Nik on the wire. “You’re my Jesus, my Counselor, You’re my Wisdom. I praise You, Jesus, Thank You Jesus, Thank You, Lord. I praise You my Father…” GMA interview: “I prayed non-stop,” he said, “The Bible says to pray without ceasing and I’m always praying.”
rope is word of God, principles contained therein. tertius usus legis, the third use of the law: a rule of life for believers, reminding them of their duties and leading them in the way of life and salvation.
doing what is right – by God’s definition
not “just” believing, thinking, proclaiming (thought and word) – those are essential but insufficient
must be followed by / implemented in daily actions
God only accepts those who are righteous, not merely those who act righteously
works of righteousness acceptable to God are those done in faith from righteous heart
B. talk v.2c-3
Previous psalm – “says in his heart, ‘There is no God'”; this psalm – “says in his heart, ‘the truth'”; indicators of exactly opposite characters.
truth must be present in our heart – “thy word have I hid…” and must agree with mind
will be reflected in overflow that comes out – truth in the heart will be on the lips (Matt. 12:34)
showing love for neighbor, keeping the 2nd “big” command, 6th of the 10 – no murder
implied – slander that does not involve tongue
hmm, is David saying backbiting/slander has its roots elsewhere?
slander on tongue comes from slander in thought and heart; not possible if word to self/heart is truth
doesn’t pick up and carry along tales or rumors about others
tries not to hear story if it is harmful, derogatory, even unnecessary
when it’s unavoidable – lets it drop to the ground, leaves it there
there’s enough to talk about without resorting to slander and gossip
if it’s God’s truth spoken to heart, an unending supply of good things about which to speak
“The privilege of knowing Christ comes with the responsibility of making Him known.”
C. look 4a
unfavorably on the wicked
We must be as honest in paying respect as in paying our bills. Spurgeon
honoring what is honorable – the office, accomplishments
not honoring those who are opposed to God
2 Kings 3:14 And Elisha said, “As the Lord of hosts lives, before whom I stand, surely were it not that I regard the presence of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, I would not look at you (Jehoram), nor see you.”
favorably on the family
honoring especially loyal followers of God
translates into honoring godliness
commending what is commendable: Phil. 4:8 “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things.” …encouraging and looking favorably on and honoring these things in others
D. lead v.4b-5a
puts best interest of other person before his own
will take a loss rather than promote injustice
puts people, relationships before stuff
“his word is his bond” Shakespeare, Two Gentlemen of Verona
does not go back on his promise even when keeping it is costly
see Ruth 1:16-17
loyalty to God and his people comes first
right stewardship is important – using resources entrusted by God for benefit of others, not self-gain
motivation: how can what I have be used to help others, to further Christ’s kingdom
resists temptation in order to do what is right
refuses to take easy road to prosperity or position
God’s promise to the righteous / godly person: “he …shall never ever (not forever) be moved.” No storm of life can ever dislodge the faithful believer from his moorings. Shaken, buffeted, but not upended, moved. Good to remember that believer’s security not dependent on believer’s grip. Jesus made that plain, speaking of sheep:
John 10:27-29 “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.”
Even when pressed into the mold of conformity to Christ’s image (Rom. 8:29; 12:2) rather than conformity to world, still are remaining defects. 8th grade shop, fiberglass resin, praying hands, mold release, polish. If standard presented here v.2-5 is absolute one, no hope in terms of human effort, temporal existence of ever meeting it. Here’s dilemma – if we are to grow in Christ-likeness, must spend time with him, in presence and worship of God. Yet can’t make the grade, so if we’re prevented from contact, how can we ever improve?
Key is back in 1st verse, word “abide”. There is one who meets all requirements perfectly / comprehensively necessary for admittance to God’s presence – Lord Jesus. Was welcomed with open arms, great acclamation and rejoicing when returned from his humiliation. Christ has full rights and privileges, no area whatever of God’s tent, God’s holy hill are off-limits to him. We can enjoy same rights and privileges…… if / when we are abiding in Christ. When we abide in the one who abides in God’s presence, we share same experience to extent earthly temporal existence allows. And… know that fullness of that experience is held in trust for us, will be our portion when God takes us home.
Our holiness presents no title at God’s bar; it blots out no sin; it pays no debt; it arrests not condemnation; it weaves no justifying robe; it presents no shadow of a claim. Christ, and Christ only, justifies; His blood alone can cleanse from sin; His death alone appeases wrath. His pure obedience, placed to our account, is the only robe for heaven. Henry Law
Meanwhile, have been reminded of God’s standard, perhaps of our lack of conformity to it. So what to do? Seek God’s help to walk closer with him, that he would give a greater hatred for sin, enable us to tear down idols that take his place in our lives. “Here is a beautiful picture of the holy man. Holy Spirit, mold us into this blessed form!” Henry Law