A Short and Sweet Psalm

Psalm 15 is a short and sweet psalm of just two stanzas, as rendered in the Scottish Psalter:

O Eternal, who shall dwell in the temple of Thy grace?Who shall on Thy holy hill have a fixed abiding place?He who walks in righteousness, all his actions just and clear; He whose words the truth express, spoken from a heart sincere.

He who ne’er with slandering tongue utters malice and deceit;
Who will ne’er his neighbor wrong, nor a slan’drous tale repeat.
Who will claim no usury, nor with bribes pollute his hand;
He who thus shall frame his life, shall unmoved forever stand.

This is one of several Scripture passages that tell us that, in order to live forever in God’s house [or kingdom], we must do certain things. It’s saying that it’s not enough to simply have “faith” or “believe” and do nothing else whatsoever, which summarizes the battle cry of the “saved by faith alone” protagonists.

The psalm begins by affirming that God’s dwelling place is a “temple of grace.” A true Christian [a true follower of Christ] begins by receiving God’s grace [unmerited pardon for one’s sins through Christ’s sacrifice at Calvary] and remaining in it,  is ultimately assured of a place in God’s kingdom. How?

The “sweet psalmist” [Israel’s King David] then enumerates a number of actions or deeds one must do: walk in righteousness, be just and clear in actions, express words of truth from a sincere heart, keep from slandering others with malicious and deceitful words [not gossiping], not exacting usury on money or goods lent, not perverting justice through bribes.

The psalmist did not intend that the above-mentioned deeds are all that one has to fulfill. These are but a few examples of how to “walk in righteousness.” Psalm 119:172  declares that “all Thy [God’s] commandments are righteousness.” Verse 142   also affirms that God’s “law is truth.” Jesus expanded this by saying “Thy [God’s] word is truth”(John 17: 17 ). Indeed Christ affirmed the Old Testament scripture [Deuteronomy 8:3] that “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).

“Evangelical” believers often refer to Ephesians 2:8-9 as their proof that we are saved by grace alone through faith.  However, they fail to emphasize as well verse 10: “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

The apostle Paul amply wrote that being justified through God’s  grace in Christ by faith, we “should be careful to maintain good works” (Titus 3:7-8).  He taught that we are purified to become God’s “special people, zealous for good works” (Titus 2:14).

These “good works” include deeds we do for God and toward our fellowmen. Jesus summarized God’s “great commandment” as loving God above all and loving one’s neighbor as oneself (Matthew 22:37-38).

For a fuller exposition of this topic, see:  Saved for Good Works and  Being and Doing.


Pedro R. Meléndez, Jr. 09112022