- Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent?
Who may live on your holy mountain?
- The one whose walk is blameless,
who does what is righteous,
who speaks the truth from their heart;
- whose tongue utters no slander,
who does no wrong to a neighbor,
and casts no slur on others;
- 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;
- 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.
This Psalm is an encouragement and a motivator for me to stay in God’s presence. The psalm starts with a seemingly extraordinary condition; to have your walk blameless. However, now in the New Covenant our walk is blameless as we align ourselves with Jesus. Let our eye be focused on Jesus, keep short accounts of wrongs, and we will stay blameless before God.
While we may have freedom to stay blameless, our calling is not only to abstain from evil but also to actively pursue doing good (Galatians 6:9). We have to do good and pursue righteousness. Again, everything has been provided for us through the Holy Spirit. He reminds us of the things of Jesus and empowers us to do His leadings.
After these general instructions, the psalm goes into more detail which opens our hearts to God’s inspection.
1. Loves Truth:
If we want to enter into God’s presence we must speak the truth. This is such a big deal. For years I lived in the shadows of half-truths and lies. Fear of what others thought of me and shame attacked my heart and pushed me into lies for attempted protection. God is all-truth and highly values truth in us. We cannot experience the goodness of His truths when we block them with our lies. We need to reject the lies we hold onto in order to embrace the truth that God will protect us.
2. Loves Others:
If you want to be in God’s presence, you need to love what God loves. What does God love? Himself and His people (Luke 10:27). How do we love others? We love them by honoring them, not taking advantage of them, protecting them with our words, caring for their needs, etc. The psalm twice mentions the need to guard our words about others, so this may be the area where most of us struggle. Can we avoid gossip about others, even if it is true? Who do you need to build up with your words?
3. Honors Righteousness:
It may be hard to make the transition from loving others to despising the vile person. I like to look at this in comparison with honoring those who fear the Lord. We can love people who do wrong, but it doesn’t mean that they have to have a place of honor in our lives. We become like who we value. We are to love righteousness so much that we emulate those who display it. Obviously Jesus is our model, but there are also people display areas of righteousness well. Maybe for you, you have someone you honor for loving their spouse, someone else for caring for the needy, someone else for valuing the truth, and another for chasing the things of God. Honoring those that model their calling well helps lead you into God’s presence.
4. Values Commitments:
God is a God of promise and God of fulfillment. God enjoys making promises to His people to give an anchor to our faith and see who will trust Him over whatever circumstances may come. Therefore as we become God-like, it is important for us to keep our commitments. Will we show up when we say we will be somewhere? Will we honor our commitments to give to the missionaries we said we would give to? If we miss a commitment, we will own up to it or try to hide it under the rug? It is hard to hold God accountable to His promises if we value ours to little.
5. Values People:
This last point almost reiterates #2. The difference is we may love people, but do we love them enough to cost us something? In particular these last couple verses encourage us to love others more than money. In a world that values money, this is hard. Are you willing to take a loss on the sale of your house to value someone else? Would you be willing to spend more on something because the company protects the workers throughout the supply chain? These are doorways to seeing people like God sees them. As our eyes are opened, we enter into God’s heart and presence.
I hope this psalm encourages and motivates you as it has me. He wants us in His presences, and He has left us with a map to help us know the way there.
For more on how to live in the presence of God, check out Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life: Christianity Today’s 2018 Book of the Year.
Original image courtesy of Christian and Rebekka Jungo