Psalm 15: How Good is Good Enough? Ross Lester By Ross Lester May 30, 2017
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Reading:

Take the time to read the entirety of Psalm 15:1-5 and then come back and read the following verse.

O Lord, 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 Lord;
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.
– Psalm 15

Reflection:

Most theologians seem to agree that David wrote this Psalm after he oversaw the work of moving the Ark of the Covenant to the holy hill of Zion. He had been confronted with the weight and glory of the holiness and magnificence of the very presence of God.

God’s holiness and glory are fearful, worship-inducing elements that we would do well to remember.

The Bible goes to great lengths to remind us that God isn’t like us. He is good and gracious towards us, but his holiness and glory are fearful, worship-inducing elements that we would do well to remember. The sheer weight of the responsibility leaves David asking a question that many of us ask all the time:

How good is good enough for God? How good does one need to be in order to experience God’s presence and favor?

David goes on to describe a man who lives a life that seems beyond what any of us could ever accomplish. Just be blameless and perfectly righteous and speak the truth all the time. Oh okay, anything else? If that is the standard, then I am in trouble. David knows it too, and the tone of this Psalm is one of desperation.

The really good news is that God himself provided that man. The man that David describes is Jesus, and he came to live the life that I could never live, on my behalf. C.H. Spurgeon, when talking about this Psalm, said:

On the grounds of law no mere man can dwell with God, for there is not one upon earth who answers to the just requirements mentioned in the succeeding verses. The questions in the text are asked of the Lord, as if none but the Infinite Mind could answer them so as to satisfy the unquiet conscience.[1]

The gospel isn’t a declaration that I need to be good, but rather that Christ is already good, and has bestowed that goodness upon those who are no good. We then seek to live differently because of how good he has already shown us he is, rather than in the vain hope of we ourselves being good enough. We must obey, to be sure, but our obedience is as a result of his affection and not in an attempt to earn it. Spurgeon went on:

The Lord in answer to the question informs us by his Holy Spirit of the character of the man who alone can dwell in his holy hill. In perfection this holiness is found only in the Man of Sorrows, but in a measure it is wrought in all his people by the Holy Ghost.

Being a Christian, therefore, is a declaration that you aren’t good enough, but that Jesus is more than good enough on your behalf. That brings joy, freedom and, ironically, a desire to be more Christ-like that is far more impactful than someone who is doing their best to live up to an impossible benchmark.

The gospel shows us a Law that must be fulfilled (destroying pride) and a Savior that fulfills it completely for us (destroying despair). – Tim Keller [2]

Today just remember: you’re not okay, and that’s okay, because he is more than okay.

Singing As We Plant

No-one deserves to be a gospel minister. Church planter – you have this ministry only by the mercy of God.

The activity of church ministry, and particularly of church-planting, brings intense focus to the question ‘how good is good enough for God?’ The answer to that question is the same as the answer to the first one. No-one is good enough. No-one deserves to be a gospel minister. No-one earns it. As Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:1-16, we have this ministry by the mercy of God – we do not proclaim ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord – we have this treasure in jars of clay – so we do not lose heart. Hold on to the greatness and goodness of Jesus as a Christian. Hold on to it even more tightly as a church-planter.

Prayer:

Father God, your holiness is too other-worldly for me to ever comprehend. It is deeply humbling to consider that I will never live up to your perfect standards on my own. Thank you so much for sending your Son to live the life I never could so that I can be in right standing with you. Teach me to rely on him and to trust him and to pursue holiness. In his beautiful name I pray.


[1] C. H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David, Volume 1: Psalms 1-26 (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2009), 34

[2] Timothy Keller, Preaching Morality in an Amoral Age. Copyright © 1996, 2009 by Timothy Keller. This article first appeared on the website of Christianity Today (Jan 1, 1996).
Used by permission of Christianity Today International, Carol Stream, IL 60188.

Ross Lester Ross Lester

Ross lives in Blairgowrie with his wife Sue, son Daniel and daughter Katie. He is lead pastor and elder at Bryanston Bible Church and his current responsibilities include overseeing the teaching and preaching at BBC, and developing future leaders so that BBC can fulfil its call to be a multiplying church.

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