We are saved by faith alone, but the faith that saves is never alone. An Exposition of Psalm Fifteen.
Duration:54 mins 39 secs

A Worshipper after God’s own Heart

Psalm 15

Introduction:

Holy Holy holy! Is the Lord God Almighty who was and is and is to come! 

This is the resounding song which echos in heaven from the voices of the four living creatures around God’s heavenly throne! Since the day of their creation till eternity future that will be their constant worship.

The God of the Bible is a holy God. The God we worship is a holy God. Holiness signifying that which is set apart, distinct, different. God distinctiveness is based not merely in His essence but in His character. He is a God of holy character, of distinct character. We worship God because he is holy, distinct and so utterly different from us.

The question I have is an ancient question asked many centries ago:

Who is worthy to come into the presence of this Holy God to worship Him?

That is a question which King David asked of the Lord in Psalm 15 – please turn to ps 15 – this was a psalm of David believed to have been written at the time he brought the ark of the covenant back to Jesuralem. The ark was carried on a new ox drawn cart – against the commands of the Lord, and when Uzzah touched the ark to steady it when the oxen stumbled, he was struck dead by God. David was angry at first and then afraid to bring the ark into Jerusalem. David though a man after God’s own heart, did not treat God as holy, and did not followed His commands in regards to the transport of the ark. He left it at Obed-edom’s house whom God blessed abundantly and after 3 mnths brought the ark into Jerusalem. This time he approcahed God with reverence and awe – He approached Him on His terms, with the Levites carrying the ark and sacrifices offered to God in the process. God is a Holy God and how we worship Him is of critical importance to God. We need to treat Him as holy in our worship. This affects us and our preparation in coming to worship God. 

Ps 15 – Read

Now when we look at this psalm in isolation from the rest of Scripture we may be tempted to think that it teaches works salvation – there is no mention of faith or grace, so surely it cannot apply to the NT believer. That would be a terrible mistake.  You see we are saved by faith alone, but the faith that saves is never alone. He who has saving faith truly obeys the Lord and only he who truly obeys the Lord has saving faith.

Rom 8:3-4 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. What is this righteous requirement of the law that is required of us?  That is God’s moral law, summarized in the great commandment of loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and our neighbor as ourselves. A saved life is an obedient life. Imputed righteousness must translates into practical righteousness. A saved life must be a changed life.

Now back to Ps 15 – this is not a Psalm dealing with justification or salvation, this psalm speak about sanctification- the process of becoming holy as God is holy. To become Christlike – to exhibit godliness.

And David is asking the Lord – O Lord who may sojourn in your tent – reference to the Tabernacle, Who may abide/dwell on your holy hill, a reference to mount Moriah where ultimately the Temple was going to be constructed. Who may come into your presence, who may come to worship you? Who is the one you approve of LORD? – David being a man after God’s own heart – one could render the question as:  Lord who would be a worshipper after your own heart? 

       God answers with six representative qualities – this is not an exhaustive list – they are merely representative – reason being we find a similar question in Ps 24:3-4  and in Isa 33:14-17 where the answers differ from what is being said here in Ps 15 

But this morning we are going to look at six representative qualities of the worshipper after God’s own heart – six representative qualities of a worshipper approved by God

Such a person must be of holy character,  their conversations must be holy, their conduct must be holy, the company they keep must be holy, their commitments must be holy and their engagment in commerce must be holy.  Distinct, different – reflecting God’s holy character.

Holy Character

V 2     He who walks blamelessly and does what is right

The worshipper of holy character is the one who Walks in integrity – Both in what he avoids and in what he does.

Blamelessly speaks to the things that such a person avoids, that they are not guilty of 

And the doing what is right, to their righteous deeds or works

To walk blamelessly is to be faultless. To be of character that is above reproach. No accusation will or can stick to them for they are innocent.

 A person of Integrity – they don’t have a closet full of shameful secrets or a hidden life of sin. In their dealings with others they are not guilty of deception or lies – what you see is what your get.

The person of holy character is not only blameless, innocent and beyond reproach, they are also known for their good deeds, for doing the right thing. Someone on whom you can count to do what is right. Doing what is right in the eyes of the Lord.

The woshipper whom God  approves is a person of integrity, a person of holy character. 

Illustration – When an OT worshipper brought an animal to be offered, the priests examined the animal to determine whether it was without blemish, without fault. In Romans 12 the NT believer is called  Not to offer animal sacrifices but to offer up their bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to the Lord, which is your spiritual act

of worship.

Now Christ is our Saviour and He is the passover lamb of God. He was likewise inspected by the pharisees and the scribes. In the days leading up to His crucifixion he was examined thoroughly by the religious leaders.

Mt 22 – we read that they tested Him about paying taxes to Ceasar, the Sadducees who did not believe in the ressurection or angels, asked Him about his beliefs about the ressurection . They asked Him about the Law – what was the greatest command – but could find no fault – After He was arrested they continued their quest to find Jesus blameworthy- Mt26:59 59 Now the chief priests and the whole council were seeking false testimony against Jesus that they might put him to death, 60 but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. Jesus walked blamelessly and did what was right. He was the one of ultimate holy character.  God accepted His offering as holy and acceptable by raising Him from the dead and because of His holy character and holy acceptable sacrifice believers can come to worship God. But we come on His terms, His conditions and His commands. Holy have we been declared by God in Christ. The worshipper approved of God is the man and woman who pursues pratical holiness and who does that by growing in holy character. That is part of your spiritual act of worship and that is the worshipper after God’s own heart. V2 two continues

Who speaks truth in his heart; who does not slander with his tongue

Holy Conversations

The worshipper approved of God is a man, a woman of holy conversations

Their speech is marked by truth. Truth – basic meaning is “certainty” something you can rely on, dependability

Truth – is used in several ways in the Bible but all are related to God

It is Characteristic of God – God declared himself to be truthful

Ex 34:6  The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness – truthfullness, dependable

   It is therefore fitting to described His word in this way –Ps 119:142 Your 

righteousness is righteous forever, and your law is true. 151 But you are near, O Lord, and all your commandments are true. 160 The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever.

God is the One whose character truthful and His word is truthful because it is an  outflow of His character

The worshipper of God is the one who got to know Him by the truth of His 

Revelation, the truth of His word and therefore truth must be found in those who come to God (Ex 18:21; Neh 7:2; Ps 15:2; Zech 8:16).

Now the worshipper after God’s own heart is the one who speaks truth in his heart – one would expect – truth on his lips, but the psalmist says - truth in his heart

–       not only the words that come our of the mouth but the intentions or motives and the attitude of the heart must be truthfull. The words that flows from the lips must come from the well of truth in the heart – with no hidden agendas, no flattery and no falsehood. This has a twofold application to us                                        One relates to our worship of God – The worship from the man/woman after God’s  own heart must flow from the truth.  From the truth in your heart.              

Heartfelt worship, sincere and without hypocrisy.

–       Jesus condemned the pharisees and scribes for their hypocrisy. For they twisted the word of God to fit their traditions – He said: people like that “honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ ”

God seek worshippers who speaks the truth in their hearts – He seeks worshippers who worship Him in spirit and in truth.

 Secondly it relates to our conversations with one another. That we are characterized by truthful speech. Eph 4:25  put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.  

Don’t blow smoke into someone’s face – Are you familiar with this expression – That person is just blowing smoke into your face – It is when the words being spoken are empty words which like smoke dissappears quickly, but it masks and hides the intentions and motives of the heart. Words aimed to distract from the truth.

Don’t say to others that, which is not true in your heart –speak truth in your heart. So don’t deceive, don’t flatter, don’t speak words of honey when bitter bile is in your heart.  Don’t blow smoke into another face. 

Scripture give us some serious warnings against this practice  Prov 6: 12   A worthless person, a wicked man, goes about with crooked speech, 13 winks with his eyes, signals with his feet, points with his finger, 14 with perverted heart devises evil, continually sowing discord; 15 therefore calamity will come upon him suddenly; in a moment he will be broken beyond healing.

Speak the truth from your heart. Let your conversations be holy –truthful

 Furthermore the worshipper after God’s own heart does not slander with his tongue

          This refers to gossiping, the Hebrew word for slander is related to the word “leg” and “spy.” So the one who slanders is the one who goes around looking for juicy little tidbits of gossip to pass on to someone else. These are the gossip traffickers. We despise the human traffickers and the drug traffickers all the while we may be traffickers in information which tears others down. God hates that. Prov 6:19 tells us that uttering lies and and sowing discord are things which God’s finds repulsive, it’s an abomination to Him. Slander and being untruthful is so foreign to the character of God and it should be foreign to your character. God is looking for worshippers who are holy in their conversations, so don’t lend out your ears to gossip, refuse it, and confront it. God hates it, so when you prepare to come and worship Him,  examine your speech, your conversations – for God approves of worshippers of holy conversations.

The worshipper after God’s own heart is of  holy character, and is one of holy conversations.  The approved worshipper is also maked by

Holy Conduct

 V3 “and does no evil to his neighbor, Nor takes up a reproach against his friend;”      The worshipper after God’s own heart does no evil to his neighbor. Neigbor referring to any other person, any fellow human being.

And evil is a broad term which includes any kind of wickedness, wrongdoing, or harm done to another person.          

The worshipper after God’s own heart – does no harm to another person. That would go against God’s command to love your neighbor as yourself.  Even when wronged  do not respond with evil. Romans 12:17 instructs us not to repay evil for evil, and not to be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good.

In order to come before God in worship – make sure you are not guilty of doing wrong against a neighbor, instead love them and do good to those who hate you , pray for those who abuse you – Lk6:27-29

He does not take up a reproach against a friend

A Friend refers to those with whom you have the closest relationships, especially those of your own family

The worshipper after God’s own heart is one who does not take up a reproach, a slur or an insult from a friend or family member. When a friend or family member say or do something offensive or insulting, something hurtful  then you do not take it up, you don’t act on it, you bear it – you don’t make a big issue of it.

Many, many families have been ripped apart because someone said something or did something that brought disgrace or scorn on you, that may have offended you, hurt you or humiliated you. And you may feel justified in retaliating, in taking up this matter – I will not stand for this, I will not be treated in this way. SO we get our backs up and in our repsonse the relationship is harmed, contact is broken off or the relationships become very strained because of this issue between you.  [PAUSE]

Illustration

One of many wonderful things of God’s creation is the ability of waterfowl to repel water. A duck jumps in the water, paddles around and when it gets out – it gives itself a shake and it is dry, the water never even touched it’s skin. It’s feathers insulated it from the water- amazing isn’t it? 

I think sometimes we all can do with a few more feathers to cover our sensitive pride. I don’t want to make lite of the deep pain that many have experienced in close relationships because of reproaches, but let us follow Christ’s example. He bore our shame, our reproach, our scorn, on the cross and He calls on His followers to bear the reproach of Christ and to suffer for His name. 1Pet 4:14

SO when you come to God in worship remember He is looking to the one of holy character, holy conversations and holy conduct. He is also looking for the one who holy company.

Company

 V 4 In whose eyes a vile person is despised, But who honors those who fear the Lord;

Worshippers after God’s own heart are those who loves His holy word and His holy ways. They are ones who fear the Lord, who honors him and who is in reverential awe of Him. It is because of their reference for God that they despise those who are vile, also translated as reprobates. A vile person, a reprobate is someone whom God rejected normally in response to God and His word being rejected and Despise means to hold in contempt. King David’s adultery with Bathseba was equated with contempt for the Lord - 10 Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’ 2 Sam 12:10

         In OT times the person who acts contrary to the community founded on the “fear of the Lord” that would be Israel, must be cut off from it - Num 15:31- 31 Because he has despised the word of the Lord and has broken his commandment, that person shall be utterly cut off; his iniquity shall be on him; also those who treat the Lord with contempt will themselves be held contemptible by Him. Mal 1:6–7, “A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am a father, where is my honor? And if I am a master, where is my fear? says the Lord of hosts to you, O priests, who despise my name. But you say, ‘How have we despised your name?’ By offering polluted food upon my altar. But you say, ‘How have we polluted you?’ By saying that the Lord’s table may be despised. When you offer blind animals in sacrifice, is that not evil?

Worshippers after God’s own heart despises those who despises the Lord, they hold in contempt those who hold God in contempt.

     But they honor those who fear the Lord. They esteem those who fear the Lord. They respect them and they honor them.

         Illustration. This just highlights the love hate relationship the Christian has with the people of the world – we despise those who despise God and his word – all they do are vile to us and reprehensible. But at the same time we long for their salvation, their reconcilaition and we earnestly seek and pray for their repentance. That is what Jude is referring to in vv 20- 23 20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. 22 And have mercy on those who doubt; 23 save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.

 We are to interact with those who despise God, but in such a way as not t be associated with them. Hate their stained garments even as you love them with the Gospel.

Worshippers after God’s own heart love and honors God and those who believe and affirm God – who He is and what He commands.

But in like manner they hold in contempt, they despise those who depise God.

That is the key to holy company – honor those who honors the truth of God, but despise those who despise God – who hold Him in contempt.

Remembering that a little leaven leavens the whole lump and bad company corrupts good morals - Be a man, be a woman of holy company

God approves of those who come to worship Him with holy character, holy conversations, holy conduct, holy company and also Holy Commitments Commitments

4c who swears to his own hurt and does not change;     

Have you ever committed to something or made a promise only later to regret it.

Well the worshipper after God’s own heart is the one who holds to a commitment, who keeps a promise, who is a man/woman of their word, those who would do what they said they would do –

          That is so unlike the world, where people are fickle and change their minds in spite of assurances given, inspite of commitments made. As soon as there is a change in the wind, they change sails and set course to waters of better personal interests- leaving broken commitments in ther wake. – But the worshippers approved by God keep their commitments, they are men and women of their word.  Their yes is yes and their no is no. When they have committed, you can count on them to fulfill it.

Even when it hurts – even when it comes at great personal pain or loss.

Often after making a commitment circumstances change and now it is much more costly, much more difficult to fulfill that commitment – But a worshipper after God’s own heart will follow through, They fulfill their commitments even to their own hurt.

Think of commitments you have made

Your commitment to your spouse and family – you committed to love them and care for them, be there for them, protect them – Is that commitment stronger than a  debilitating illness. When all of a sudden, the wife or the husband you married is not the same person anymore and all your hopes and dreams come tumbling down – will you bail out or will you stay the course – I heard just this week of a young man 18yrs old  – brilliant athlete, with a great prospects ahead of him in professional sports – being struck down by viral kidney failure, his first kidney transplant he burnt up in a couple of weeks. His was expected to live not longer than 30yrs of age, 35yrs at max. He was courting a beautiful young girl, he was punching way above his weight in getting her. But she loved him, she was committed to him. She fell in love with a star athelete, but she stuck with him when his life fell apart, when this hard muscular man changed into an soft, obese one, because of medication and lack of exercise. She married him, knowing full well she will see him pining away, knowing she would usher him into eternity within is few short years and she did. That is commitment, that is staying the course. Making a comitment and keeping it even when it becomes very hard. 

Think of your commitments to customers or colleques. Do you follow through even when it is hard. Fulfilling a conntract even when it costs you?

Think of your commitments to the church. To your local church, this church, the people of God you worship with. We are but in our infant stage as a church. But let me remind you that Commitments made in the context of church bears great responsibility. For ultimately it is a commitment made to God first and then to others.

When you commit to serve in a ministry. How committed are you? Have you sought the Lord in that. Circumstances may change and do change, things turn out differently to what you’ve hoped for, but do you bail out at the first difficulty, or do you press through in the commitments made, with prayer and perseverance, even when it hurts.

Few words of wise biblical counsel – Enter not and evaluate  

Enter - Do not enter into a promise and commitment lightly. Don’t be flippant about entering into a commitment – evaluate, consider, measure and determine whether you will be able as far as humanly possible to fulfill that commitment. Especially commitments or promises made to the Lord.

Ecclesiastes 5 we find this warning   Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. To draw near to listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they are doing evil. Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few. For a dream comes with much business, and a fool’s voice with many words. When you vow a vow to God, do not delay paying it, for he has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you vow. It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay. Let not your mouth lead you into sin, and do not say before the messenger that it was a mistake. Why should God be angry at your voice and destroy the work of your hands? For when dreams increase and words grow many, there is vanity; but God is the one you must fear.  Enter not lightly into a commitment.

Evaluate yourself in regards to your current commitments – Ishould you do find yourself in a commitment that you can’t keep, go to the person involved and plead your case before him and resolve the matter, seek release from that commitment, don’t just bail out or fizzle away.

Prov 6 My son, if you have put up security for your neighbor, have given your pledge for a stranger, if you are snared in the words of your mouth, caught in the words of your mouth, then do this, my son, and save yourself, for you have come into the hand of your neighbor: go, hasten, and plead urgently with your neighbor. Give your eyes no sleep and your eyelids no slumber; 5 save yourself like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, like a bird from the hand of the fowler. 

Mt 5: 25 Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison.

Worshippers after God’s own heart  are men and women of their word. They do not waiver in their commitments, but fulfill them even if it hurts.

The last holy quality sought by God in an approved worshipper is that of holy Commerce

Commerce 

who does not put out his money at interest and does not take a bribe against the innocent.

The approved worshipper has the right perspective on money and possessions.

     They give to the Lord as an act of worship the portion they have willingly and freely set aside for the Lord for God loves a cheerful giver.

They also know whose money and possesions it really is and that it has been entrusted to them as a stewardship from God to enjoy. They are the ones who are rich in good deeds, generous and ready to share , thus storing up treasure for themselves as a goof foundation for the future - (1Tim 6:17-18)

They are also the ones who resists the desire to be rich – one way of making money is to lend it out at interest. Now the Israelites received strict laws which governed their lending and borrowing of money. Charging interest to a fellow Israelite was prohibited (Lev. 25:35–46; Deut. 24:10–13).  Theywere allowed to lend out money at interest to strangers but not at usary – not at exhorbitant rates of interest.

Not like the loansharks and even some credit card companies of today.

         The Worshipper after God’s own heart uses his money to help others and not to exploit those who are in need. Prov 17:17 Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.

They also do not accept a bribe. This is expressly forbidden in Deut. 27:25. The approved worshipper is not influenced by gifts, money or benefits for turning a blind eye, for doing something illegal or underhand. Worshippers after God’s own heart cannot be bought by this world’s system.

They refuse to let the potential for personal gain influence their principles. This whole Psalm deals with intergrity and character and principles and the worshipper approved of God is a person of integrity, of character and of principle

Every day Christian businessmen loose lucrative business deals because they refused to compromise their principles.

In the movie Couragous one of the characters Javier was tested by his employers to see if he would do something dishonest in order to gain a promotion. 

Even though Javier was struggling to provide for his family- he did not compromise his principles. That is what ultimately led in him in getting the promotion and increased wages.

In Corrupt countries, millions of dollars is spent on paving the way to do business there. Bribing officials – we all go yuck that’s wrong – but bribes often come in very subtly ways – There is the promise of more money or quick money, or certain money (security) but it often comes at a price. The price may not be a glaring violation of your principles but just a small shift.

At what price do you sell out?

The new job, new position, more money, steady income, but your hours robs you away from your wife and kids, or leaves you so exhausted that you do not even notice that your children do not ask you to play with them or do something with them for they have found someone else who is willing to spend time with them, to go hiking with them, or are interested in their piano recital or school play. Most of the time these someones are wrong friends.

Don’t get me wrong, it is good to excell at work, to get promoted or to seek better employment - but always ask yourself, what is the sacrifice, what am I giving up – and is that worth it? Is that what God wants?

The Worshipper after God’s own heart cannot be bought- He will not compromise his biblical principles for the sake of worldly gain.

 

Who are the worshippers approved of God, those of holy character, holy conversations, holy conduct, holy company, holy commitments and holy commerce

Those are the ones who receive this promise

Promise

 He who does these things shall never be moved/shaken

He shall never waver, or slip or fall, for his refuge, his strength, his hope is in God

They are the ones who have built not on sand, but on the Rock, which is Christ

They are the ones who will not be shaken from His divine presence. Sure the rain will come and the wind and the storm and it will test your resolve as a worshipper aproved of God – but you will not crash down, you will not be moved, You will enjoy a strong assurance.

You  will be like the man of Psalm 1, we looked at last week – You will be transplanted by the streams of water.

Your roots of a holy life will cause you to stand secure and steadfast, You will not slip and you will not or be shaken even in the midst of life’s greatest storms.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, worshippers of the living God, long for what brings steadfastness, seek what leads to life, abundant life, yearn for the approval of God.

This psalm provides a wonderful framework for preparing your heart for worship- Am I of holy character, conversation, conduct, company, commitment and commerce- If you discover blemishes- praise God for His mercy, for not striking you down like Uzzah and confess, ask forgiveness and change the areas that are not holy, not like Christ.

Set your heart, your soul, your mind and your strength on being a worshipper after God’s own heart, approved of the Lord and you shall be able to worship and praise God with the exhuberance of David  when he danced before the ark and you shall never be shaken.

A strong asurance is promised to you, one which will not be moved, not now, not ever Amen.

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