Yesterday we looked at the practical atheist, someone who lives his life as if there’s no God. This doesn’t mean necessarily that he’s a mass murderer or rapist or even especially evil. It simply means that he’s godless, that God isn’t in his thoughts. Today, however, we look at the other side of the coin. The person described in this Psalm is someone who has a keen sense of God’s presence. He “[dwells] in [God’s] sacred tent” and “[lives] on [his] holy mountain.”
Now please don’t misunderstand me. The Bible doesn’t contradict itself, so this isn't talking about how to get right with God. We're saved by grace through faith in Christ alone, so that’s not what this Psalm is discussing. The first verse is not asking “Who can make it into heaven?” I thoroughly believe that it’s talking about what type of believer has unhindered fellowship with the Father.
But if we want that sweet communion, that unhindered walk with him, then there are conditions to be met. If we want to see the Fruit of the Spirit in our lives, such as joy and peace, then this Psalm reminds us that our Father has some expectations of us. And please note that David really emphasizes how we treat other people as the focus here.
The first thing he wants us to examine is our tongue. James warned us that it’s a “restless evil, full of deadly poison.” The believer who wants to really experience God’s presence has to avoid slander, but there’s more involved than that. He wants us to speak the truth from our heart, and to keep our word, even when it hurts. It’s easy to tell the truth when it doesn’t really cost you anything, but what if coming clean will hurt your reputation? What if it makes you seem less in others’ eyes?
The second area of assessment is in our heroes and confidants. Again, this can lead to misunderstanding. Verse 4, which tells us to "[despise] a vile person," doesn’t mean that the Lord wants us to shun them. He’s the same One who told us to “go and make disciples of all nations.” Our Savior was well-known as “the friend of sinners.” The key is found in the second half of the verse by contrast: We need to be careful of whom we honor, our heroes. Whom do we honor? To whom do we go for advice? Is it the rich or the famous or the powerful? Or is the main characteristic of our heroes that they “fear the Lord”?
And finally we need to look at our money or wealth. Maybe we don’t loan money at “usury” levels, but we’re keeping a scorecard of who owes us a favor, and we’re not going to let them forget it. We might not be some greedy loan-shark with our money, but maybe we’re greedy with our time or our love, always looking for payback. Or perhaps we’re willing to look the other way at injustice because it’s in our best interests. If that doesn’t apply to you, then don’t worry about it. But at the very least we all need reminding from time to time that our money and wealth are all on loan from God, and that we don’t really own any of it.
The wonderful part of this is that the one who does this “will never be shaken.” Not that troubles won’t come, but he won’t be shaken by them. He will be in such tight communion with the Father, and his presence will be a glorious sanctuary of peace and rest. I can’t claim that I’m there yet, but I certainly want it. How about you?
And here for your meditation, here's Eden's Bridge's version of the Psalm:
Lord Jesus, I fall so far short of your perfection. The closer I get, the more I see how far I need to go. Please forgive and restore and change me. That’s what I need, so desperately.
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