By Alistair Begg
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 shall dwell on your holy hill?” The question that David poses in the first verse of this psalm is of utmost importance. It may strike us as a question that’s tied only to worship in ancient Israel, but in truth it takes us to the very doorstep of heaven and asks us, Who will enter these gates?
While the answer is explained in the rest of Psalm 15, the general point is one we find throughout Scripture. The writer of Hebrews advised his readers to “strive for … the holiness without which no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). The Lord Jesus similarly instructed that “the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Matthew 7:14). Those who will stand on the holy hill of the Lord and enjoy His presence for eternity, then, are those who arrive there by the narrow way, striving after holiness.
The sad truth is that too many assume they will dwell on God’s holy hill because they once said a prayer, walked down an aisle, or are a member of a church. It is a grave mistake to think that those acts on their own will merit eternal life if they are accompanied with a way of life that gives no evidence of knowing Christ as Lord. Charles Spurgeon once preached, “If the man does not live differently from what he did before … his repentance needs to be repented of, and his conversion is a fiction.”
So, who will ascend the hill of the Lord? It is the one who “walks blamelessly,” in a way that cannot be confused with that of an unbeliever, and whose life manifests the reality that God has saved him or her. It is the one whose talk is not marked by slander but who “speaks truth in his heart.” This is someone who doesn’t merely say what is correct but says what is true, with no gap between what is said and what is lived.
The combination of reading Psalm 15 and looking honestly at ourselves will very likely be discouraging. Only the Lord Jesus embodies the psalm’s portrayal of holiness to perfection; only He deserves to dwell on His Father’s holy hill, and only because He chose to die for His people’s sins and clothe them with His perfection are we invited to live with Him there. But it is good and right to let the light of God’s word shine on our hearts and expose what is there, for it will move us to repentance and to gratitude to our Savior. And those who know they will stand there because of Him will seek to be like Him. Consider your walk and your words, and pray that you would be ever more conformed to the image of Christ until you dwell with Him on God’s holy hill.