David asked two questions in Psalm 15:1. “Lord, who may abide in your tabernacle? Who may dwell in your holy hill?” Important questions, to be sure. And, the way they are answered says a lot about those who are answering.
You could think about them in their original setting, David’s day, but they ought to be considered in a broader way in order to get the full benefit of them. The words “abide” and “dwell” suggest an atmosphere of fellowship between man and God. It means approval and acceptance from the One who matters most. But, who gets that?
In David’s day, and in later Jewish history, some would seek acceptance by going through the formality of worship and service without any true devotion. Amos would thunder God’s words, “I hate, I despise your feast days, and I do not savor your sacred assemblies. Though you offer Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings, I will not accept them, nor will I regard your fattened peace offerings” (Amos 5:21-22). Formality alone will not get you an abiding place.
In New Testament times, the Pharisees and scribes might answer, “He who keeps an outward appearance of piety and supports the traditions of the elders” (Mark 7:1-4). Jesus would call them hypocrites while applying the words of Isaiah (Mark 7:6-9). No holy hill for them!
In our day, many would insist a casual relationship with a religious group of some sort or being a person who doesn’t curse, cheat on his/her mate, and minds his own business, ought to be good enough. They overlook what Jesus said about seeking the kingdom first (Matt. 6:33). No place for these in “God’s tent.”
How would you answer David’s questions? A look at the rest of Psalm 15 might help. It is not “an exhaustive catalog,” as Derek Kidner calls it. But, it is “an essential challenge,” as I call it. Actions, words, integrity – all matter. Do we see ourselves abiding in God’s tent and dwelling in His holy hill? …Allen Hahn