Psalm 15: The Searching Question: Who May Abide with God?


Have you ever had those moments when it was quiet and no one else was around, where you wondered if in fact you were really saved? I know I have before.



The Bible offers some assurance verses which are quite good.  One of the best ones, I think is in Romans.  It says:

For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba Father!” The Spirit itself testifies with our spirit that we are the children of God. Romans 8:14-16

We have an internal testimony from the Holy Spirit himself that we belong to God.  That is pretty good assurance right there.

The Psalm we are covering today is about assurance of salvation which, quite honestly, is different than what I first thought.  When I picked it, I thought it was about worship.  But then after studying it a bit more, I discovered that I was mistaken.  It is about those who belong to God and how to identify them.  It is about knowing if you are saved. It is about asking and answering certain questions of yourself to see if you are in the faith.

I will confess something to you today. This is far and away the most evangelical sermon I have ever preached.  But this is what I think I have learned about God from a few years of doing this. Preaching like we do, verse by verse through books of the Bible, I have heard a recurring theme from you–my congregation. You will come to me and say, “Pastor Dan, that is EXACTLY what I needed to hear today!” I have learned from that. I have gleaned from that, that God is faithful and he knows what he is doing. If he has me preaching an evangelistic sermon today, for such a time as this, then there is a good reason. But I will warn you today that this is a poking, prodding, searching Psalm.

Hebrews 4 tells us that the Word of God is active and living and sharper than a two edged sword and sometimes when you play with swords you get cut by them. And you may get cut today, but if you will take this journey with me, you may find that it is a cut more like surgery than warfare–a cut meant to heal rather than kill or destroy. The Enemy comes to kill and destroy. Christ came that we may have life and have it more abundant.

And so today, as we make our way through this Psalm, we will notice first the Searching question. Who may abide in your tent? Then, after the searching question, we will observe together the Spiritual qualifications. There are four areas that will be true of those who are qualified to dwell in God’s tent, and we will look at those together.

But first this morning we notice the searching Question… 


The Searching Question: Who May Approach God?

The question posed here by David is a two-part question.

“O Lord, who may abide in Your tent? Who may dwell on Your holy hill?”

David is asking who is worthy to come into God’s presence. He is asking who may approach God. Who may abide with God?  This question has a temporal aspect to it as well as an eternal aspect to it. There is a right now to this question as well as a not yet.

When David asked this question initially, the ark of the covenant would have been located inside a tent in the city of Jerusalem.  This was prior to the temple being built on top of Mount Moriah in the city. The temple was built, of course, by Solomon because God said to David that he had too much blood on his hands to build a house that would be as holy as God’s house needed to be.  So the job went to Solomon…. David’s son… the future king. All of the construction for the future temple took place after the death of David.  So if a person was going to worship when Psalm 15 was written, he would have gone to the tent where the Ark was located. This was the ongoing practice for the Jew from the time of Moses.

When the tabernacle was built and put together in the wilderness, it would house the Ark of the covenant.  And where the Ark was would have been the same place where sacrifices were offered for the sins of the people.  It was the center of Jewish worship.  This continued to be the case after the temple was built in the time of Solomon.  If a Jew was going to worship they would go to the temple mount and offer sacrifices there. This is the reason that it was so very upsetting to the Jews in the Old Testament…. when the temple was torn down.  This meant in effect that there was no place for the Jews to properly worship.



Fast forward to the time of Christ. This would have been after the second re-building of the temple–the first being done by Nehemiah and the second done by Herod just before Christ was born. The temple was the place where the twelve-year-old Christ was teaching. This was the place where, as an adult, he fashioned a whip of cords and drove the money changers from the temple who were charging extortion rates to buy a temple sacrifice. This was the center of Jewish worship until 70 AD when it was destroyed yet again and it is still in ruins today.

Who was allowed to worship in the Temple in Jerusalem?

But backing up to that time between Solomon and Christ, there was a good deal of segregation that happened on the Temple Mount.   Starting at the Holy of Holies, which was where the ark sat and the presence of God was on the temple mount. Only the priest was allowed to enter the holy of Holies. It was a rare gift for only one man at a time. Then working out from there, there was the court of the Jews for Jewish men only-this was just outside the holy of Holies. Then there was the women’s court which was further removed from the Ark, and then the Gentile court which was further still from the ark.  So there was this separation or division which existed.

So David, when he asked this question initially, “Who shall dwell?”, could have had the answer given back to him, “Well it is mostly Jewish men I guess, because everyone else is kind of on the outside of things–they are separate and excluded to a degree.”  This is why the events surrounding the crucifixion are so significant! When Christ died, the veil of the temple was torn in two.  The curtain separating the Holy of Holies from the rest of the world was torn in half. This signified, of course, that now women, now Gentiles, now all nations had equal access to Christ who was now our high priest.

Ephesians 2 says this about Christ:



Paul was speaking to Gentiles here!

There is no further separation of any certain people or nation from Christ because of his work on the cross. That is exceedingly good news for those of us who are Gentiles–like everyone in this room today!  That is very good news! 


The question then becomes, “Who is part of His church?”

But the question then turns from the temporal to the eternal, for us at least. David asked, “Who could go up the mountain and worship God? Who could dwell with God on his holy hill?

We ask the question today, “Who can approach God in worship? Who can be certain that their worship will be acceptable to a king who would not let David get too close with blood on his hands–who would not let Gentile pagans approach?” This same God, now, through Christ, bids all of his church to approach Him!

Who is part of the precious chosen elect for whom Christ died?   Who is part of that group that, now that the veil is torn–now that there is no dividing wall of hostility, can come into the Holy of Holies?

We are asking today, “Who is going to dwell with God in the new Jerusalem–the heavenly Zion? Peter talked about the fact that we are to make our calling and election sure. All of us must ask the question today, “Am I among that group that is included by the dividing wall being broken down? “



Hebrews 4 gives us these words of hope:

Only those who have Christ as their High Priest can dwell with God

While it is true that these words should inspire confidence and hope in those whom they were written for, the qualification must still be made that they are not written for everyone, but only for those who have a high priest in Christ.  It is still true today that the one with unforgiven blood on their hands may not approach, and the pagan, unrepentant Gentile may not approach. From an eternal viewpoint, only those who have Christ as their high priest will be able to live with God on his Holy Hill. So, while the high priest has changed from the one in the tabernacle, to the one in the tent, to the one in the temple, to now… Christ, the entry requirements are the same as they have always been.


  It begs the question of us today, “Do we have what it takes to dwell with God in his Holy hill?  Does the Holy Spirit of God dwell in us?”


Continued in the next post…

Watch the full sermon live here: Psalm 15: The Searching Question: Who May Abide by Pastor Dan Woody

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image] [author_info]Pastor Dan Woody is a founding elder for Koinonia. He has been serving churches as a pastor for the past 13 years. He and his wife Peggy are the parents of two sons, Chris and Jonathan. Pastor Dan is currently studying for his Mdiv with The North American Reformed Seminary. His interests include music, and most outdoor sports like golf, hiking, tennis and fishing.[/author_info] [/author]