READ: Psalm 14-15
BACKGROUND: It’s kind of cool that these two Psalms are put right next to one another. They’re both written by David, and in Psalm 14 he mourns all of the sin and corruption that have overtaken the whole human race while in Psalm 15 he offers hope and describes the kind of person who can have a close relationship with God.
14:1 – “The fool” is someone who is morally corrupt not mentally deficient. Also, David isn’t just talking about people who are self-proclaimed atheists here. He is talking about people who live their lives like God doesn’t exist.
2-3 – Paul quotes these verses in Romans 3:10-12.
7 – David longs, hopefully, for the final establishment of God’s perfect kingdom. “Zion” means Jerusalem – the capital of this kingdom – and it is often used instead of Jerusalem when talking about the future, perfected kingdom.
15:1 – Though the thoughts in this Psalm absolutely apply to all of us, when David talks about coming to God on his “holy hill” he is invoking the powerful imagery of the temple in Jerusalem and all of the things that it meant to come before God there – even the fact that only the High Priest could enter into the Holy of Holies where God’s presence dwelt.
2-5 – The simple answer to the question: “Who can come…?” is “The person whose life and actions show obedience and love for God.”
THINK: A few weeks ago there was a huge soccer game in England between Manchester City and Manchester United. The winner of the game was basically guaranteed to win the championship. The early reports estimated that over 650 million people worldwide – including me – tuned in to watch. I’m a Manchester United fan and I thought, going into the match, they had a really good chance to win. After all, they’re the defending champions and they basically own the city of Manchester. The “rivalry” is kind of like saying the Yankees and Mets have a rivalry in New York City. One team is legendary. The other just isn’t. United has more championships than anyone in history. City are kinda like the Cubs; they never win. So it should have been simple enough for United to dominate them. It should have been a walk in the park. But it wasn’t. They stunk. They came out and played horribly – as bad as I’ve ever seen them play. And I was really frustrated with them because not one single United player played well. None of them did what they were supposed to do – and they lost.
After the game, as I was processing my disappointment and my grumpiness towards my favorite team, I was preparing to send a text to my brother about how every single player stunk it up when a thought hit me: Wow, I wonder how frustrated God gets with us when we continually mess things up – even after he’s given us the Holy Spirit and it shouldn’t be so hard to get them right. Seriously. Stop for a second and think about it. I got frustrated with 11 guys for not playing a game well. How frustrated must God be with 7 billion people for not living well?!?
The reality is, as David says in Psalm 14, that we don’t. None of us lives the way that we ought to live. And even though we acknowledge God with our lips and claim to believe, we become practical atheists when we walk out the door and deny his existence by our lifestyle. And that grieves God’s heart. I can’t even imagine being in his position. But Psalm 15 gives us a great vision to shoot for. We can grow in our relationships with God and become the people he created us to be by being obedient to him. By living with integrity and righteousness, by speaking truth and love, by honoring the Lord and avoiding sin, by being honest and generous and upright.
ASK: Are the qualities listed in Psalm 15 things that define my life and my interaction with others? What are some steps I can take to start living like the person described in Psalm 15 rather than living like the person described in Psalm 14?