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Psalm 15

David lists ten characteristics of the person who will "abide" in God's tent and "dwell" on his holy hill.

(1)???????????????????? First, this person walks with integrity (15:2).


(2)???????????????????? Second, this individual works righteousness (15:2). This is the person who actually does what is righteous, rather than merely talks about it. Doing what is right and lawful and good and honest is eminently pleasing to God, whether it be in private or public, in the church or in the office.

Proverbs 11:1 declares that "a false balance is an abomination to the Lord, but a just weight is his delight.' The same thought is found in Prov. 20:10, "Differing weights and differing measures, both of them are abominable to the Lord" (cf. 20:23). What is it that is so horrible that God would regard it as "abominable"?

The writer is referring to an ancient practice among unscrupulous merchants. If you wanted to purchase, let's say, five pounds of sugar, the merchant would place on one side of the balance scale a stone supposedly weighing five pounds. He would then pour sugar onto the other side until the scales weighed evenly. In point of fact, the stone might weigh only four pounds. The customer is thereby cheated, having paid for a pound of sugar he does not receive. If a dishonest person were himself making the purchase, he might use a six-pound stone that is labeled as five. In either case, such deceitfulness is an abomination to the Lord. One cannot easily pass it off as shrewd bargaining or rationalize it by insisting that 'everyone else does it.' It is, quite simply, abominable to the Lord.

God is concerned with the little things no less than with the big ones. It's stunning to think that God views everything we do or think in life as either an abomination or a delight! We must ask this question: Do we regard those minor misrepresentations in business or shopping or speaking as only part of the game everyone plays, or do we regard them as an abomination to God?

(3)???????????????????? Third, he speaks truth in his heart (15:2). That is to say, there is a correspondence between what he thinks on the inside and what he says on the outside. This person does not resort to hypocrisy, feigned praise, or flattery. This doesn't mean we are to speak everything in our hearts (cf. Eph. 4:29 and numerous Proverbs). It does mean that when you speak, you speak the truth.


(4)???????????????????? Fourth, he does not slander with his tongue (15:3). The word "slander" literally means "to spy out", in the sense that one goes looking for things in the life of another to use against them.

(5/6)?????????? The fifth and sixth characteristics are related. He does no evil to his neighbor (15:3). Neither does he take up a reproach against his friend (15:3). Here he refers to both initiating and rejoicing in gossip. His point is that the person of integrity will neither contribute to slander nor tolerate it. Spurgeon said, "If there were no gratified hearers of ill-reports, there would be an end of the trade of spreading them."

(7)???????????????????? Seventh, this person is one in whose eyes a reprobate is despised but who honors those who fear the Lord (15:4). The "reprobate" is someone known for evil; someone hardened in perversity; someone unrepentant and proud of his/her sin. Whom do you admire? Whom do you praise? Try to envision what society (not to mention the church!) would be like if we all suddenly ceased to praise, honor, reward, show deference or grant special privileges to the reprobates of our world, particularly those in Hollywood, the sports world, and in politics.

(8)???????????????????? Eighth, he swears to his own hurt and does not change (15:4). The NIV renders this, "He keeps his oath even when it hurts!" In other words, his honor is more important than his wallet. He is willing to make material and physical sacrifices to be honest. Often, if there is no risk of loss or painful consequences, one will never know if one has integrity. One will never know if what motivates you is moral conviction or moral convenience until you are forced to suffer loss for standing your ground or keeping your word.

(9)???????????????????? Ninth, he does not put out his money at interest (15:5; see Ex. 22:25; Lev. 25:35-38; Dt. 23:19-20). The primary aim of this legislation was to protect the poor. In other words, it was motivated by compassion. The purpose for making loans in today's world is to make money, to develop industry, to expand capital, etc. But for an Israelite to charge interest on loans made to a fellow-Israelite would aggravate the crisis that had produced the need for obtaining the loan in the first place, driving him yet farther into debt.

(10)?????????????? Finally, he does not take a bribe against the innocent (15:5). Often the poor were taken to court and exploited by the rich who could easily afford to pay a bribe to thwart justice (see Deut. 16:19-20.

And what profit is there in integrity? David's answer is "He who does these things will never be shaken" (15:5). Shaken from what? Most likely, the promise is that this individual will never cease to "abide" in God's "tent" (v. 1) or fail to "dwell on God's "holy hill" ( v. 1). Well, what do you know . . . honesty does pay after all!