By Garry Knighton
Church of Christ/North - Shreveport, La.
  WHO WILL FELLOWSHIP GOD?

PSALM 15

Some people say that this Psalm compresses the six hundred and thirteen precepts of the law into eleven. Isaiah 33:13-16 is somewhat parallel. It compresses them into six. Micah 6:8 compresses them into three. Amos 5:4 compresses them into one which is to seek Jehovah. A study of a Psalm such as this is important to us. Romans 15:4 says, "For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that through patience and through comfort of the scriptures we might have hope."

In the Psalm, David asked a question and then answers it. "Jehovah, who shall sojourn in the tabernacle? Who shall dwell in thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly and worketh righteousness, and speaketh truth in his heart: He that slandereth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his friend, not taketh up a reproach against his neighbor; In whose eyes a reprobate is despised, but who honoreth them that fear Jehovah: He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not; He that putteth not out his money to interest, nor taketh reward against the innocent. He that doeth those things shall never be moved."

The tabernacle and holy hill of Jehovah today would be related to the Church. We can see evidence of this in the prophecies of Daniel, Isaiah, Joel, and others. Let's consider for a few minutes the answer to the question, "who will sojourn in the tabernacle of Jehovah and who will pass through his holy hill?

He that walketh uprightly is the man who will fellowship with God.

This thing of walking uprightly consists of many things. A man must walk in God's light. I John 1:7 says, "but if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanseth us from all sin." If man is to ever have great confidence in himself, he must use the word of God as his light to follow. David, the Psalmist, expressed his confidence in God when he said in the Psalm 119:105, "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path." If we are ever to have great confidence, we must truly become "light walkers." To the people of the world, light is a disgusting thing. Darkness is the main growth place for sin. If you will consider for a few minutes the places where sin "hangs out" you will be able to see how that darkness is the cover for sinful activity. Every bar-room you see will always be dark. This is true because many there do not want to be exposed. John 1:9 sets Jesus forth as being the "true light" that came into the world to expose the darkness of sin. John 3:19-20 the writer says, "and this is the judgment, that the light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather that the light; for their works were evil. For everyone that doeth evil hateth the light, and cometh not to the light, lest his works should be reproved. But he that doeth the truth cometh to the light, that his works may be made manifest, that they have been wrought in God." The person who is living the right kind of life will love God's light because it will magnify his good works to the world, but the person who does evil will continue to hate the light and anyone who would try to expose them.

If a man is to walk uprightly, his is to walk without hypocrisy. Jesus warned against this very thing in the book of Matt. 65:16-18, when he spoke of this problem the Pharisees had. "Moreover when ye fast, be not as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance; For they disfigure their faces, that they may be seen of men to fast. Verily I say unto you, they have received their reward. But thou, when thou fasteth, anoint thy head, and wash thy face; that thou be not seen of men to fast, but of thy Father who is in secret: And thy Father, who seeth in secret, shall recompense thee." Jesus said that one should not do what he does, such as praying, giving, working, etc., to get the attention of men that he might please them, but that he should do what he does in such a way that it seems like his everyday routine. God does not like the person's attitude that acts like something he is really not. Paul dealt with a similar problem with the Apostle Peter in Gal. 2:11f. Peter, back in Acts 10, had seen a vision from God signifying that God had made the Gentiles clean and that he could now go unto them and preach the gospel. Peter had been doing this for sometime now and at the point of this context he was having a meal with some of his Gentile friends. During the course of the meal some of his Jewish friends came in. Peter, instead of explaining to these friends what God had done, drew back from the Gentile fellowship and made it look like he would have nothing to do with them. But when the Apostle Paul met with Peter after hearing this, he resisted him to his face "because he stood condemned." God will not tolerate such activity among his people. This thing of hypocrisy will be the doom of many of God's people. Not only does it affect the individual who is play- acting the part, but if influences others. The text says, "And the rest of the Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that even Barnabas was carried away with their dissimulation." The man who walks the "Hypocritical road to ruin" can never sojourn through God's tabernacle nor dwell in His Holy Hill.

The man who walks uprightly must walk a new life rather than the one he lived before, Rom: 6:1-11 says, "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that Grace may abound? God forbid. We who died to sin, how shall we any longer live therein? Or are ye ignorant that all who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were buried therefore with him through baptism into death: so we also might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His resurrection; knowing this that the body of sin might be done away, that so we should no longer be in bondage to sin; for he that died is justified from sin. But if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him; knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death no more hath dominion over Him. For the death he died, he died unto sin once; but the life that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Even so reckon ye also yourselves to be dead unto sin, but alive unto God in Christ Jesus." A person who comes into God's kingdom can never remain the same as he was before. Just like he will be a new person in the next life, so also he must be a new person in his new Christian life. God expects his people to grow and become better and better. He must show activity and progression.

The man who walks uprightly must walk by faith. II Cor. 5:7 says, "For we walk by faith and not by sight". Our faith must not be as Peter's was when he walked on the water. He saw Jesus coming toward the boat which he and the other disciples were in. Peter recognized that it was the Lord and said, "Lord, bid me to come unto thee." Jesus said, "Come". Peter left the boat walking on the water toward Jesus but he let one problem get in his way. He looked about him and saw the waves rolling up and down. He looked back and saw the boat rocking back and forth. Then he began to sink. His faith was strong enough to him started but it was not strong enough to keep him going in the face of doubt. If we are truly walking by faith, the storms and waves of everyday life will not always make us sink but they will make us even stronger in our faith. No matter how hard we try, sometimes we do begin to sink. There is great comfort if we will but realize that Jesus will help us when we start to sink. Jesus said to Peter, "Peter, wherefore didst thou doubt?" Then He stretched out his hand and lifted him up to continue to walk by faith. The man of God must take each step of life in the faith and assurance that God will help him always reaching out for the hand of Jesus.

Who will sojourn in the tabernacle of Jehovah, who shall dwell in His Holy Hill? The man who worketh righteousness. The text does not say the man who "talketh" righteousness. A man is not saved by his works, but the man after God's heart, will work because he is saved. In James 2:14-18, James asked the question, "What doeth it profit, my brethren, if a man say he hath faith but hath not works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked and in lack of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Go in peace, be ye warmed and filled; and yet ye give them not the thing needful to the body; what doeth it profit? Evenso faith, if it have not works if dead in itself. Yea, a man will say, thou has faith, and I have works: Show me thy faith apart from thy works, and I by my works will show thee my faith." A man should be grateful to God for making salvation available to him enough that he would do all he could to help others. Eph. 2:10 says that we as creatures of God were created unto good works. We must place in our minds that God has always wanted his people to work. A busy person will never get caught in the age old trap of idle talk and things of such nature.

Jehovah, who will sojourn in thy tabernacle and dwell in thy HOLY HILL? The man who speaks truth in his heart. Yes, God wants the man who is totally honest with himself. The man who does not let a destroyer such as pride stand in his way. This kind of man will realize exactly what he can do and exactly what he is limited in doing. Nebuchadnezzar was told to go into the field and eat grass like a wild beast because he would not recognize that Jehovah God was in control of everything, even his kingdom, the great Babylon. Solomon in his great wisdom said, "pride goeth before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall" (Pro. 16:18). Paul said in Phil. 3:8 that he counted all things as garbage just to be able to be found in Christ. If there was ever a man who could have gloried in worldly accomplishments, it was Paul. When we adapt such an attitude as Paul did, then we will truly be able to fellowship with God.

Who will sojourn in the tabernacle of Jehovah and who shall dwell in His Holy Hill? It will be the man who slandereth not with his tongue. The man who will have no part of gossip. James 3 gives three illustrations of the power of the tongue. First of all he says that the tongue is like the small bit in a big horses mouth. All of the might and power can be controlled by the small bit. Next he gives the illustration of the rudder on a ship. Such a small object enforces the command of the ship's captain to steer the boat in any direction over the vast ocean. He next gives the illustration of a fire. We have read many times of a forest fire being started by one match. The tongue is just like these illustrations. It is one of the smaller members of the body but yet it is one of the most damaging parts that we have. Before saying anything we should take the tongue test. We should first of all ask, Is it true? Next, is it kind? Will it help the person or hurt him? and thirdly, Is it necessary? Should this thing even be said? It has been said that the tongue is the ladle of the heart. Whatever is in the man's heart will come forth.

The person in God's fellowship will not take a reproach against his neighbor. This continues along the same line as gossip. A Christian will not even listen to the gossip spread about his neighbor. Of all things a Christian is not a "trash can" or a "sewer pipe". He is not a trash can to collect the trash someone spreads about his fellowman and he is certainly not a sewer pipe to transfer the trash to someone else's cesspool.

The man who will fellowship God is the man in whose eyes a reprobate is despised. He will have nothing to do with the sinful people of the world. Paul said to the Ephesian brethren that they should have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness but rather "reprove them" (Eph. 5:11). In contrast to this the person who hates sin will honor them that fear Jehovah. This is why Christians have such a good time together. We all have the same purpose in mind and all of us hate the same thing, that is, sin. God wants us to hate sin so much that we will continue to purge it from our midst and avoid as much contact with it as we can (I Cor. 5).

Jehovah, who shall sojourn in your tabernacle and who shall dwell in thy Holy Hill? The man that will do this is the man who will swear to his own hurt and change not. God loves a man who will give his word to do something and keep it even if it costs him. There was a farmer in South Louisiana one time who went to a man to borrow some money to finance his crop that year. When he borrowed the money he agreed on the price that he would sell his beans when the harvest came. He signed the contract, planted his beans, and harvested them when the time came. But, during the time these beans were growing the price tripled on the beans. The man that loaned the money came to the farmer and said, look when you signed the contract for these beans the price was low but now it has risen. I tell you what, I'll not hold you to that contract. The farmer said, Sir, when I borrowed the money from you I made a covenant by giving my word. Now, I agreed to sell them for that price and that is exactly the price for which you can buy them.

You see this man swore to his own hurt and changed not. This is much like us today. When we came to Christ we gave our word that he would be the Lord of our lives. That we would follow him no matter what happens. If things around us seem to make us want to change our minds, just remember what God's man will do. No matter what changes go on about his life, he will keep and honor the covenant he made with God.

Notice the last verses of the Psalm. "He that doeth these things shall never be moved."

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