Reformation Bible College desires to nurture a cohort of young leaders. Every class, chapel message, and event is designed to foster an environment in which students of God’s Word can grow in the goodness of grace, fall in love with truth, and be enraptured by the beauty of what they are studying. Here we are blessed to be in constant contact with the reality of our calling as Christians and the standard to which we go for guidance. By the grace of God, we have been prepared to become leaders in our families, our churches, our vocations, and the Kingdom. Sometimes, however, our dreams can become too lofty and our opinions of ourselves overinflated. It is in times like these that we need to remember Psalm 15.
This Psalm brings us back to the basics. David asks a fundamental question: “Who can dwell in the blessing of the Lord’s presence as he sojourns through this world?” There is a strong probability that you have asked this or a similar question. How often do we ask God to bring us peace? To help us obey him? To let us know His comforting presence with us? These are all closely related questions to David’s.
In this Psalm, David lists several criteria that characterize the sort of leader upon whom God shines His face. We do well to notice that none of these are merely intellectual attributes. They are practical attributes—things that a person does by the power of the Spirit and in accordance with the Word of God.
In Psalm 15:2, we are told that the blessed person is one who walks blamelessly, doing what is right. This seems difficult enough on its own, but the second line of the verse accentuates the rigor of this expectation. Such a person is one who bears no duplicity, for he speaks the truth even in his heart. David knows that, at the end of the day, we are stuck with ourselves, our sin, and God’s omniscience. The man of God is one who pursues holiness and obedience.
In verse 3, we find that the one who dwells in the presence of the Lord is free from the slander that destroys relationships. Sometimes it seems that the people we most vehemently criticize and demean are our own spiritual teammates. This is an ugly and destructive behavior within the church that has no place in the vocabulary of the Christian leader.
The next verse seems hard to decipher. How does the third line expound the first? What we find is that verse 4 is a commentary on character. There is a progression in these lines that dictates that the man of God is a good judge of character, that his standard for measuring character is the fear of the Lord, and that he himself exemplifies good character. The Christian leader is one who fears God and can judge by someone’s lifestyle whether they too should be trusted to lead.
Neither is the man or woman of God opportunistic, conniving, or corrupt. Verse five is not meant to be a mandate against usury. It is meant to forbid selfishness, greed, and abuse. If we are going to lead the people of God, we must never capitulate to the temptation to place ourselves first or seek to profit from them more than we are due.
This is a crushing list of expectations, piercing through the dark cloud of our hubris and self-sufficiency to make us despair, if faced alone. But of course, we do not face it alone. We face it with the Son of God, who has fulfilled each demand for the sake of all the elect. By the strength of His Spirit and under the blessing of His Father may we strive to live in peace upon God’s holy hill.
— Tyler Freire is a graduate of Reformation Bible College. This message was originally given as a devotional during our student hosted Graduate Appreciation Dinner.