Psalm 15 (Read)
What is meant here by the tabernacle is not God’s tabernacle in heaven, but the earthly tabernacle and the future temple in the Old Testament, and the Lord’s Church in the New Testament, which represent the places of God’s special presence in the world. The word abide here means “to sojourn”, so as to sojourn in communion with God as we travel through our lives. “Thy Holy Hill” is also referring to God’s earthly presence with His people.
So then David asks the Lord, who is going to sojourn in this life in fellowship with God in His earthly tabernacle, or His New Testament Church. In other words, who is fit for communion and fellowship with God in this life.
It was not by accident that this Psalm follows Psalm 14, which paints an ugly picture of wicked, depraved humanity. The Apostle Paul quoted Psalm 14 in Romans 3 where he vividly described the depravity of all natural men. So then, beloved, in light of human depravity in Psalm 14, who is fit to fellowship with God in His tabernacle?
Who will walk in fellowship with the Lord in His tabernacle? Those who walk uprightly. As we have said before, walking is the Hebrew axiom for “living” or “manner of life.” The Hebrew word for “uprightly” (pronounced taw-meem) is translated “without blemish” 44 times; “perfect” 18 times; “without spot” 6 times; “upright and uprightly” 12 times; and a few other English renderings. It also means complete, whole, and entire.
The word upright also has an illusion to walking straight and erect, as opposed to walking bent over from the load of sin, or crawling on the ground like a twisted serpent. God made man upright, but they have sought out many inventions. Job was said to be upright, a man that feared God and eschewed evil (as the old preacher said, he chewed it up and spit it out). So to be upright is to be morally and ethically pure and righteous.
David is saying that the man who will walk in fellowship with God, his entire manner of life is to be perfect and complete, and without the spots and blemishes of sin; and he walks upright and erect as a man of morals, principles, and integrity.
Now we know that only Jesus Christ could fulfill this requirement of perfection in the absolute sense. No doubt David is alluding to Christ this Psalm, Who, compared to depraved sinners of Psalm 14, Jesus is the only One truly fit to walk and live in perfect fellowship with God in His tabernacle. The best saints of God fall short of that mark.
But in a relative sense, David is speaking of God’s people, who show forth certain godly characteristics in our lives. The first of these is living upright, that is, living godly lives that are relatively free from the perversions and corruptions of sin as defined in the Word of God.
Who will walk in fellowship with the Lord in His tabernacle? Those who work righteousness. This is speaking of two things. We know that there is “none righteous, no, not one.” We know that all of our righteousnesses are as filthy rags in God’s sight. No man has any righteousness for salvation. No depraved sinner has any righteousness of his own to offer God for the salvation of his soul. Anyone who thinks he does is deceived.
Therefore, to do righteousness means to receive God’s righteousness, which is the righteousness of Jesus Christ by faith in His work on the cross.
Secondly, to work righteousness, means to do what is right according to the Scriptures. You know one of my favorite sayings, “do the right thing because it is the right thing to do.” Everything we do in life is either right or wrong. It is either agreeable with the Scriptures or it is contrary to the Scriptures. Please don’t misunderstand me this evening, we have liberty in Christ, only use not our liberty as a cloak of sin and unrighteousness.
I grant you, sometimes we’re not sure if something is right or wrong. In these cases I recommend that we stay on the safe side, and don’t venture out into those “gray areas” as they are called. There is plenty of good, safe ground that God has given us to explore without venturing into the “gray areas”. Again, don’t get me wrong. Your looking at Christopher Columbus up here, one of the great explorers of the 20th and 21st centuries. I’m not trying to tie you up and keep you from enjoying life, and either is God. Just stay within the righteous boundaries that God has set in His Word and we’ll be OK.
Who will walk in fellowship with the Lord in His tabernacle? Those who strive to live pure and holy lives that are free from the pollutions of sin, who have trusted in the righteousness of Christ for their salvation, and practice doing righteousness as a way of life.
Who will walk in fellowship with the Lord in His tabernacle? Those who also speak the truth in their heart. They speak the truth from a sincere heart. They speak the truth according to the fountain and foundation of truth, which is the Word of God. They speak the truth as opposed to lying to their neighbors, and using deceit, and the poisonous words of asps like the wicked sinners of this world do.
Not only that, but they are honest and truthful with their own hearts. How many people lie to their own selves and deceive themselves into thinking they are alright when they are not alright. Self deception is one of the greatest tools of Satan to destroy men’s souls.
Beloved, there is no holy, sanctified backbiting and gossip. It is all wicked and ungodly, and God hates it. He hates it in us as much or more than He hates it in lost sinners. Yet how often are we guilty of such vile, corrupt communications. May God help us to bite our tongues, and zip our lips, and let our yeas be yeas and our nays be nays, when we are tempted to backbite a brother or sister!
Who will walk in fellowship with the Lord in His tabernacle? He that doeth no evil to his neighbor. Beloved, we are to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. I said this morning that we are to be militant as Christians in the spiritual warfare. But our battle isn’t against the flesh, to do evil or harm our neighbor, but to do them good through the preaching of the cross.
It is not our Lord’s design for us to lift one finger to harm our neighbor, but to do them good in all things. We are in a battle for truth and righteousness, not to do evil.
Who will walk in fellowship with the Lord in His tabernacle? He that doesn’t receive a reproach against his neighbor. Not only will he not spread gossip and hurtful rumors about his neighbor, but he won’t even listen to such filth about his neighbor. Instead he will seek to uphold and vindicate the cause of his neighbor. Yes, if no one would add wood to the fire, the fire would soon go out!
Who will walk in fellowship with the Lord in His tabernacle? One problem the Jews had in Isaiah’s day was that they called good evil and evil good. If we would walk with the Lord, we must call sin what it is, and label vile sinners what they are.
I don’t mean that we should be like the Pharisees and separate ourselves to the extent that we no longer witness to this lost and dying world. We are to love and have compassion on the lost, but we are not to uphold their sins and sinful ways. We should rebuke sin, and despise sin, and hate sin for what it is, and for what it is doing to the souls of men, and what it still does to us as we live in this flesh.
Who will walk in fellowship with the Lord in His tabernacle? Those who honor them that fear the Lord. Brethren, we are not to be our own enemies. But as brethren we are to honor one another, and support one another, and help and encourage one another. Our church family should be the best friends that we have in this world. Even your pastor!
Who will walk in fellowship with the Lord in His tabernacle? Those who will keep their word even to their own detriment if need be. Those who make a promise, or an oath, or a vow, and keep that oath or vow regardless of the outcome. Regardless of what may happen to them as a result.
We remember Jephthah, how that he vowed to offer as a burnt offering the first thing that came out of the doors of his house when he got home from battle, if the Lord would give him the victory over the children of Ammon. You remember what the first thing was that came out of his house! Yes, it was his daughter! Perhaps David had Jephthah in mind hear. Beloved, we also need to be careful what we vow when we vow!
Again, those who will walk in fellowship with the Lord in His tabernacle will be men and women of their word.
Who will walk in fellowship with the Lord in His tabernacle? Those who will not charge the poor with excessive interest so as to take away what little they have.
Anyone who would rob the poor or be an accessory to this crime, cannot walk in fellowship with God. God takes up the cause of the poor against those who take advantage of them, and take away what little subsistence they have in this world.
Jesus took up the cause of the poor. He ate and drank with poor and vile sinners. He saves many sinners from among the poor of this world, and gives them eternal life and a royal inheritance in His palace in Heaven. May we as God’s people and church not despise nor rob the poor. May we be compassionate and take the Gospel to the poor as Jesus did.
Who will walk in fellowship with the Lord in His tabernacle? Those who will not bear false witness or pass a wrong sentence against an innocent person. Do we ever do this? A preacher friend used to say that “the only exercise that some people get is jumping to conclusions.” That is sort of funny, but there is some truth to it.
Sometimes we pass judgment on the accused, and sentence them to jail before we even hear half of the evidence in the case. And then after we publish our verdict in the Ashland Daily Independent, we find out that they were innocent of the crime! We need to be careful!
The Scriptures tell us not to judge things before their time. We may not even intend to be malicious in our judgments, but it just comes out that way. Lets be careful how we judge others, and lets be careful not jump into judgment before we hear all the facts. And may we never swear falsely against the innocent, or anyone else for that matter.
How well do we pass the test of Psalm 15 this evening?
Will we be among those who will continue to walk in fellowship with the Lord in His Church?
Do you have the righteousness that we spoke of this evening? Have you come to believe in the righteousness of Christ, that He died for you sins, was buried, and rose again the third day for your justification?
If not, believe this Gospel even now and thou shalt be saved from all your sins, and you too will be able to walk in fellowship with the Lord in His Church.