Ep.047: Psalm 15: Sanctuary

Hello, I’m Daniel Westfall on the channel “Pray with Me”.

Today we look at Psalm 15. Unlike most of the psalms before, the poet is not in crisis. There is no hint:
of enemies pursuing,
of despair overwhelming,
of being stuck in the pit,
or of God hiding and not paying attention.

The poet starts by asking, “Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may stand on your holy hill?” In a quiet, meditative way, the poet reflects on God’s temple and God’s promises. Do you do that sometimes? Do you spend a quiet day with God, away from work and friends and family? It’s helpful to do that in our busy lives.

The poet says his heart’s desire is to live in God’s sanctuary, to stand on God’s holy hill (v. 1). The sanctuary and the hill are “thin places” where God’s space intersects with human space, where God’s life mingles with human life. The poet wants to find that space and live in it, but it’s not as simple as pitching his tent close to God’s tent. It is not as easy as becoming a priest so he can enter the temple. The way to live close to God is to obey his law, so the poet outlines the way of life that lives in God’s space.

It goes like this:

In God’s space some behaviours are unacceptable and will get us thrown out. Slandering, doing wrong to neighbours, casting slurs on people, and giving bribes are unacceptable behaviors that disqualify us to live near God (vv. 3, 5). These are things we’re not supposed to do, like Google’s old motto, “Don’t be evil.”

But it’s not enough just to avoid bad actions. In 2015, the Google companies added a new motto, “Do what is right”. The poet agrees. Living in God’s space requires us to be active and purposeful in doing good. The poet says:
walk blamelessly,
do what is right,
speak the truth from your heart,
despise vile people,
honor people who fear the Lord,
and keep your promises even when it hurts (vv. 3-4).

In summary, the way into those thin spaces where earth and heaven meet, the way to live close to God, is: Don’t do evil. Instead. set your heart right, then do good from a good heart.

Let’s pray.
Our father, like the poet, we have moments when we feel close to you, when we are  in a thin space where our world intersects with yours. These have been for us moments of grace, moments of peace and trust, moments when we sense you are near, when we feel you holding us in your love.

Sometimes these moments occur in the beauty of nature, sometimes in church, sometimes when reading scripture or listening to music, sometimes in conversation with family and friends. In these moments we recognize you in our lives, we feel your spirit in our souls, we hear your voice in our world.

Help us receive these moments as your gift to us.
Help us live in the light these moments shine on us.
Help us shrug off the habits that move us away from you.
Help us acquire the habits of mind and heart that draw us into your presence.
Help us to live in your temple, to stand on your holy hill, to dwell in the spaces where earth meets heaven.
And help to grow in this way of life, until we experience the promise of Psalm 15, “The one who does these things will never be shaken” (v. 5).

Amen.

I’m Daniel on the channel “Pray with Me”.

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