In the Tent

Sometimes I have to smile at Peterson’s casual, conversational, colloquial way of translating the Scriptures. If, as some of the introductions to The Message Bible state, his purpose was to “engage and intrigue us right where we are”, for me it delivers. Case in point? The opening question of Psalm 15.

God, who gets invited to dinner at Your place?

(Psalm 15:1a MSG)

While I was arrested by the more literal translation of the song as I read in my ESV, comparing it to Peterson’s paraphrase only deepens the sense of wonder and awe.

O LORD, who shall sojourn in Your tent?

(Psalm 15:1a ESV)

Who gets to sojourn in the tent? Who gets to “turn aside from the road for lodging and hospitality” and find a place in the Holy Place? Who gets to walk past the altar of sacrifice, wash their hands in the laver of cleansing, and enter the place where the light always shines and the bread is always on the table? Who gets to approach the altar of incense as it shadows the place where the glory of God dwells, above the mercy seat, beneath the wings of the cherubim (Heb. 9:1-5)? What’s more, who would even dare to think that they might enter the Most Holy Place and actually abide in the presence of Holy, Holy, Holy God Himself? Who?

That such a place exists isn’t the jaw-dropper. For those who believe in a holy God, such a holy place just makes sense. But that one might sojourn there? That it is available for abiding? That invitations have been sent out and the way prepared for the creation to come and fellowship around the table with the Creator? How amazing is that? Pretty amazing!

As I read on in David’s psalm and process the qualifications for “who”, they aren’t all that surprising. Who gets to dine with Deity? Who finds a seat at the table with the Sovereign? Who can live in the midst of unapproachable Light? Short answer: the righteous.

Pragmatically, David describes them this way: They walk blamelessly and speak truth from the heart. They don’t slander others, or wrong their neighbor, or turn on their friends. They can’t stand the sight of evil, and honor those who fear the LORD. They’ll “keep their word even when it costs” (MSG). When they loan someone money, they don’t expect any interest payment in return. And, they’d never even consider taking a bribe to stand against the innocent. (Ps. 15:2-5)

But, while righteous works will accompany righteous people, the gospel reminds us our righteousness comes not from good works but by faith for good works. That’s the power of the gospel — our faith!

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

(Romans 1:16-17 ESV)

Righteousness credited to our account because we believe “in Him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification” (Rom. 4:24-25).

So, the righteous have a place in the tent. The faithful are invited to feast at His table. Those who are wholly His, through trusting in the finished work of the cross, can turn aside from the wearying road and find rest in the Holy Place.

O LORD, who shall sojourn in Your tent?

God, who gets invited to dinner at Your place?

Hmmm . . . I like chewing on good questions. Reminds me of a great God. Renews wonder. Evokes worship.

A place at the table, by God’s grace. Sojourning in the tent, for God’s glory.

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