Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed


Our Common Prayerbook 15

posted by Scot McKnight

David reflects on who is acceptable to God, so acceptable the person can dwell on the holy hill. What is such a person like? John Goldingay’s commentary (Psalms, Vol. 1: Psalms 1-41 (Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms) calls the chapter “Qualifications for Staying with God.”

We live in a time where God’s unconditional love is so central that a question like this seems uncharitable or that it suggests God doesn’t love everyone or that God is somehow arbitrary. Others wonder if this psalm doesn’t teach some kind of legalism or earning one’s favor before God. Each of these approaches is wrong because the Bible depicts our relation to God in relational (and not just judicial) terms: to dwell in God’s favor is to live with God properly. Those who don’t, can’t expect to dwell on God’s holy hill.
As Goldingay observes, the psalm is not really a prayer in the normal sense: it begins with a question of YHWH, but the psalmist knows the answer so the question becomes rhetorical — or perhaps the answer becomes known as the psalmist ponders God aloud. And the psalmist is probably speaking to hidden listeners; it’s a form of theological pondering on who is acceptable to God. 
The question asked is about how can “stay” (gur) with YHWH on the Temple hill. Who is it that can remain, abide in, dwell in YHWH’s presence?
(1) The one who relates to others in the community properly (2)
(2) The one who avoids negative actions toward others in the community (3)
Both vv. 2 and 3 use walking, doing and speaking verbs.
(3) The one who responds to others on the basis of their honor of God (4)
(4) The one who has the right disposition toward money (5)

A psalm of David.

15:1 Lord, who may be a guest in your home?

Who may live on your holy hill?

15:2 Whoever lives a blameless life,

does what is right,

and speaks honestly.

15:3 He does not slander,

or do harm to others,

or insult his neighbor.

15:4 He despises a reprobate,

but honors the Lord‘s loyal followers.

He makes firm commitments and does not renege on his promise.

15:5 He does not charge interest when he lends his money.

He does not take bribes to testify against the innocent.

The one who lives like this will never be upended.



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Bruce G White

posted May 17, 2010 at 11:42 pm


Textually, I agree with the idea that the psalmist is engaged in an act of theological pondering (vs. establishing a legalistic list of do’s and don’ts).
I like the way you have taken the psalmist’s specific examples and distilled them into 4 solid, life-style principles. From these principles, I can extrapolate examples of other specific actions that could also answer the initial questions. In other words, identifying the underlying principles helps me to engage in my own theological pondering about my own behavior. And when I ponder God’s Word in this way, I find that Jesus meets me in these moments and continues His work of forming and shaping my character.
For contrast, I looked at the NIV and was nailed by the translation of verse 4: “…who keeps his oath even when it hurts…”. What an important reminder that living with integrity often comes at a cost. Which, of course, raises more questions for me to ponder: “Am I ready and willing to pay the necessary personal price in order to honor God? Each and every time?”
A wonderful Psalm that challenges me and stirs me.
Scot, thanks for these posts; they are providing spiritual refreshment.



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