The songwriter opens his lyric with a question. Actually, with two questions. I think I’ve said it here before, but it’s true that good questions can open the door to important insights. Good questions, pursued thoughtfully and truthfully, have a way of clarifying reality. And so, imagining David looking upon the ark as it resides in its home at Jerusalem, his song starts with these questions,
O LORD, who shall sojourn in Your tent?
Who shall dwell on Your holy hill?
(Psalm 15:1 ESV)
God’s tent. The home of the ark. The place where the glory dwells. God’s house.
And where’s it located? Jerusalem, God’s holy hill.
So if that’s the place where God is to be found, if that’s the place where God is to be known, if that’s the place where God is to be communed with, then “who gets invited to dinner?” (MSG)
That’s the nature of the questions being asked. Who may “turn aside from the road” and lodge as a guest in the tent? And having been invited in for a meal, who then might hope to stay permanently, abiding, as a normative experience, where God is known?
He who walks blamelessly and does what is right and speaks truth in his heart.
(Psalm 15:2 ESV)
That’s the short answer. Blameless walk. Does what is right. Truth in his heart. Not about talk, not even just about walk, but about thought as well–that’s what’s considered before someone knows the divine welcome of abiding in the presence of God.
And as I read through the rest of the psalm, while I’m not surprised that a holy, holy, holy God can only permit at His table people who are holy, I also realize afresh the impossibility of anyone meeting and sustaining those entrance requirements in and of themselves.
While I might walk in integrity a lot of the time, I know when my heart has failed me. While I might try to do what’s right, even if I think it’s most of the time, I confess that too often I’m prone to compromise. And then, start rummaging around in my heart, and that kind of seals the deal. If left to my own righteousness, who gets invited to dinner? Not me.
But what if I bear the holiness of Another? What if I am counted blameless, declared righteous, and spiritually re-wired to desire and know truth in my inner being? What if, beyond my account being credited with the perfection of Another, I’m also equipped to walk in a manner worthy of a such a calling? What if I have been enabled to participate in the divine nature through an indwelling Helper who brings with Him heaven-sent power? And what if when I fail–and to be sure I fail–provision has been made for that too? That if I confess my sin He is faithful and just to forgive my sin through the once for all shedding of blood on my behalf?
So what if I meet the qualifications, because of Another? What if the song describes me because of the gospel?
Then, who gets to rest in the tent? And who gets to commune at His table on the holy hill? Who gets invited to dinner?
By God’s grace. For God’s glory.