The Unsearchable Depths of the Bible
I have a distinct memory from when I was 10 or 11 years old. I was in church one Sunday and an older lady in our church was saying how happy she was that even though she had read her Bible her whole life she still found new things in it, she was still learning from God’s word and God was still speaking to her through it. Even at that young age I was excited and encouraged to know that God’s word still spoke to people who had been studying it for decades and decades.
Over the years as I’ve read the Bible, specific passages have jumped out at me, speaking into my heart and into my life. A few months ago, I was sitting and reading my Bible when all of a sudden the words seemed to leap off the page and grab me. I was reading Psalm 15, and though I’d read it before, the whole psalm felt like a major discovery to me, one that I would keep coming back to nearly every day over the next few months. Psalm 15 is short, it contains only five verses, yet each verse is filled with truths and with challenges.
Psalm 15 (NIV)
1 Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent?
Who may live on your holy mountain?
2 The one whose walk is blameless,
who does what is righteous,
who speaks the truth from their heart;
3 whose tongue utters no slander,
who does no wrong to a neighbour,
and casts no slur on others;
4 who despises a vile person
but honours those who fear the Lord;
who keeps an oath even when it hurts,
and does not change their mind;
5 who lends money to the poor without interest;
who does not accept a bribe against the innocent.
Whoever does these things
will never be shaken.
What struck me that day, and what continues to strike me each time I read it, is how it appears as a succinct summary of what the Bible teaches us about living as Christians. It doesn’t tell us what we need to do to be saved – for us that comes later in the New Testament. Instead, this psalm is a description of how we should live as Christians. Warren Wiersbe in his book Be Worshipful describes Psalm 15 as ‘a description of how saved people ought to live if they want to please God and fellowship with Him’.
Psalm 15 is a Psalm of David, and echoes of the Psalm appear throughout the New Testament. Many of these echoes are the words of Jesus in the Gospels, while others are teachings given through the New Testament letters. Verse 2 tells us to speak the truth from our hearts and in Ephesians 4:15 we are told to speak the truth in love, so we will grow to become the mature body of Christ. In verse 5 we are told to lend money to the poor without interest, and Jesus tells the rich man to give all his possessions to the poor (Mark 10:21), and to be generous to the poor (Luke 11:41).
The Psalm ends by stating that the person who lives in the way it describes will never be shaken. This ending seems to echo the words of Jesus in His teaching in the Sermon on the Mount. In Matthew 7:24-27 Jesus describes the wise person as one who hears his words and puts them into practice because the person who does this is like the builder who builds his house on the rock. When the rain fell, the floods came and the winds blew but the house on the rock did not fall. Wiersbe describes how these passages connect together: ‘The godly life that our Lord discussed in the Sermon on the Mount parallels the characteristics of the godly person described in Psalm 15, and in both places, the promise is given: “You shall never be moved.”’
In some ways, living out this psalm seems like an impossible task, one we cannot do in our own strength. Verse 2 tells us to do what is righteous, which is a daunting thought for unrighteous people like us. However, we find our hope for righteousness when we read Romans 3, our righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ who was the atonement for our sins.
The words of Psalm 15 are succinct and memorable, a summary that helps us with our actions and our reactions and reminds us of how we should live as Christians. It tells us the reason for living this way too. It starts by telling us to live this way so we can make our dwelling place with the Lord, and it ends by telling us that if we live this way we will never be shaken. It is an amazing psalm, which has helped me greatly. And another good reason to keep on reading the Bible.