Friday, December 26, 2014

Only the Blameless May

O Lᴏʀᴅ, who shall sojourn in your tent?
    Who shall dwell on your holy hill?

He who walks blamelessly and does what is right
    and speaks truth in his heart;
who does not slander with his tongue
    and does no evil to his neighbor,
    nor takes up a reproach against his friend;
in whose eyes a vile person is despised,
    but who honors those who fear the Lᴏʀᴅ;
who swears to his own hurt and does not change;
who does not put out his money at interest
    and does not take a bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things shall never be moved.  (Ps 15:1-5)

King David begins this psalm with sobering questions: Who can abide with the Lord in His presence?  This can not be seen as a question of introspection.  David is not comparing himself with all those around and deduce that he is the only acceptable answer.  No, rather the question
is as though addressing an earnest inquiry to God…so that after the deliberate effort at inquiring, he may elicit a verdict from God in reply, and with its great authority he may prompt the Jews to a desire for virtue and maintenance of upright living.*
The answer given is both simple and profound being summarized in verse three: the one uncontaminated in character, deed, and speech.  Notice the characteristics of the blameless person: not a slanderer, reviler, or otherwise harmful to another; acts faithfully in every situation, condemns evil, honors the Lord’s people, suffers loss rather than harm another, steadfast, and more interested in doing right than in gaining wealth.  This list is formidable.  We ask, “who is sufficient for these things?” (2 Cor 2:16)  In one sense, nobody is able to maintain the pious life being described, yet this is not the only passage that sets such a high standard (see 1 Tim 3:1-7; Tit 1:5-9).

The truth is that we are not sufficient—not at all.  The overwhelming shortcoming on our part must be met by Another.  The Law was in place to show us our sin and need for forgiveness and redemption.  By faith the Israelite would offer the atoning sacrifice, trusting the Lord’s promise to cover the sin.  Yet this was not enough; the sin could never be removed entirely.

David, at one point in his life, would come to fully understand the sin lurking in our members.  He would grasp the depravity within his own heart.  Rather than making excuses, negotiating, or seeking the absolution that was not available, he confessed and threw himself on the mercy of the Lord—the place to which he had previously gone for repose as the victim of wrong was now the One wronged and David’s only hope.  And God was faithful.  Only the Lord is able to place us in proper standing and relationship with Himself.  To accomplish this, Jesus, the only begotten God and Son of the Father, made full atonement for our sin, so that we might no longer fear sin’s guilt and punishment.  It is through Jesus and His atoning work that we are made sufficient to dwell before the living God.  We stand blameless in Christ.  What long-suffering mercy and grace!

To the blameless, God gives David this promise: he shall not be moved.  And it is not as if the believer goes on through his own strength and determination, rather the source of strength is from above.
And now instead of closing in conformity with the description of character already given: such a man shall dwell, etc., the concluding sentence takes a different form, molded in accordance with the spiritual meaning of the opening question: he who does these things shall never be moved…, he stands fast, being upheld by YHWH, hidden in His fellowship; nothing from without, no misfortune, can cause his overthrow.†

What then shall we say to these things?  If God is for us, who can be against us?  He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?  (Rom 8:31-32)

*  Theodore of Mopsuestia, Commentary on Psalms 1-81
†  C. F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament.

No comments: