Psalm 15 is a beautiful and contemplative passage found in the book of Psalms in the Bible. It delves into the qualities and characteristics of a person who is considered righteous and worthy of dwelling in the presence of God. The psalm begins by asking the question, “Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent? Who may live on your holy mountain?” It then proceeds to outline the attributes of such an individual, emphasizing the importance of integrity, honesty, and righteousness in all aspects of life. The psalmist highlights the significance of speaking truth, refraining from slander and gossip, and treating others with fairness and respect. Additionally, the passage underscores the value of keeping one’s promises, managing finances ethically, and refusing to take part in acts of oppression or bribery. Ultimately, Psalm 15 serves as a guide for leading a life that pleases God and finds favor in His sight, emphasizing the importance of personal integrity and upright conduct in one’s relationship with both God and fellow human beings.
1 LORD, who may dwell in your sacred tent? Who may live on your holy mountain? 2 The one whose walk is blameless, who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from their heart; 3 whose tongue utters no slander, who does no wrong to a neighbor, and casts no slur on others; 4 who despises a vile person but honors those who fear the LORD; who keeps an oath even when it hurts, and does not change their mind; 5 who lends money to the poor without interest; who does not accept a bribe against the innocent. Whoever does these things will never be shaken.
God calls his people to be morally upright, and in this psalm, he gives us ten standards to determine how we are doing. We live among evil people whose standards and morals are eroding. Our standards for living should not come from our evil society, but from God.
What is the easiest way to tell if an item is counterfeit? Comparison to the real thing. God shows us here what the real thing is in regard to Christianity so we compare ourselves – and others after ourselves – to it.
The one whose walk is blameless (verse 2)
- “Blameless” not “perfect”
- Not “no charges,” but no charges that stick
- His life is complete, all essential aspects of character are present
[He] who does what is righteous (verse 2)
- He practices rectitude
- The man who puts integrity into his life
- No man is worthy to be called a friend of God who does not habitually do that which is right
[He] who speaks the truth from their heart (verse 2)
- Sincerity as opposed to outward show or mere profession
- The truth dwells in his heart, and he speaks it there first before he expresses it with his tongue
- He speaks the truth because he loves the truth; it has been said, “Truth is God’s daughter”
[He] whose tongue utters no slander (verse 3)
- “He who has no slander” – and what he says reveals his character in the normal course of life
- This is from the Hebrew word “to foot it”
- Slow to believe evil of another
- Does not find pleasure in evil
- Does not originate evil report
- Does not readily affirm such when spoken by others
- Believes evil report only in the ace of overwhelming evidence
- Believes evil report, when forced, contrary to the desires of his heart
[He] who does no wrong to a neighbor (verse 3)
- This phrase adds deed to word
- “He who bridles his tongue will not give a license to his hand” (C. H. Spurgeon)
[He who] casts no slur on others (verse 3)
- This speaks of scandal, reproach, defamatory accusation
- He does not pick up on what has been said about his neighbor
- He doesn’t transmit or add to what has been said
[He] who despises a vile person but honors those who fear the LORD (verse 4)
- He despises and honors properly
- He only honors those who are honorable
- He does not show respect to a man of base or bad character on account of his wealth, his position, or his rank in life
- He doesn’t hesitate to express his despite
[He] who keeps an oath even when it hurts, and does not change their mind (verse 4)
- He has sworn in a way that will injure himself, but he will not substitute something for what he has promised
- Converse is also true – he will break a wrong commitment even if it costs him something significant
Words are powerful, and how you use them reflects on your relationship with God. Perhaps nothing so identifies Christians as their ability to control their speech – speaking the truth, refusing to slander, and keeping promises. Watch out for what you say. (James 3:1-12 has something to say about this.)
[He] who lends money to the poor without interest (Psalm 15:5)
- Commercial lending was unknown then
- This has to do with usurious lending to the poor or to one’s spiritual brothers
- The basic meaning – he who does not take advantage of those in distress
[He] who does not accept a bribe against the innocent (Psalm 15:5)
- Common in many places to bribe in justice area
- This man will not allow his justice and equity to be tampered with by anyone
God was against the Jews’ charging interest (usury) or making a profit on loans to the needy, fellow Jews, although charging interest on loans to foreigners was allowed (Deuteronomy 23:20). Interest was also allowable for business purposes, as long as it wasn’t exorbitant (Proverbs 28:8).
Whoever does these things will never be shaken.
Conclusion Psalm 15
One can tell a counterfeit by comparison. This is true of people as well as things. Just as a bill may be a bit defaced and still be genuine, God can see the same with people.
Click here to download or print the Bible study “Psalm 15: The Guide to Righteousness“