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Every ten weeks we intentionally pause and reflect. This is a series of reflection upon the Pslams greatest hits. The design is not to theologize, theorize, or employ our “figure outer.” Our goal is to highlight a few key verses where something is happening within the experience of the writer, in hopes that the words will bring us into a similar experience. As such, this series is not so much about knowing as it is unknowing and experiencing. It’s about using only the words necessary to invite a deeper, personal reflection.
v.1 “O Lord, who shall sojourn in your tent?
Who shall dwell on your holy hill?“
Such vital questions. Every religion operating at its lowest, tribal level will seek to control these answers as a way of steering people. Who get’s proximity to God? Who not only gets to come, but is permitted to dwell or abide or “go about” in the tabernacle? The question behind the question is; to whom of us does God want proximity? It contains religion’s constant assumption about innies and outies.
The way David answers these questions presses us into an uncomfortable self-reflection. As we read these words, may we pay very close attention to what arises in our heart. What part of us is pushing back. Is the voice of an inner defense attorney getting louder and pleading a case? Or is it the voice of an inner prosecuting attorney proving that once again we didn’t make the cut? Are you ready?
“2 He who walks blamelessly and does what is right
and speaks truth in his heart;
3 who does not slander with his tongue
and does no evil to his neighbor,
nor takes up a reproach against his friend;
4 in whose eyes a vile person is despised,
but who honors those who fear the Lord;
who swears to his own hurt and does not change;
5 who does not put out his money at interest
and does not take a bribe against the innocent.“
Staring at our morality can summon a very ugly character, namely; pride. If our self evaluation finds us lacking we recoil a bit, get on edge, and go slightly deaf. If we discover we have met the bar, we begin to feel elated in ourself and quickly over appraise our gaps. Clearly these pre-qualifications for Divine union and Presence are not specifics but rather examples of a morality that places others first. Thus the boastful high-jump “winner” has not truly cleared the bar. The tent or tabernacle is open for those whose head is low enough to duck under and see oneself along with the non-jumpers.
What moral metrics are required of our faith? Some of our brothers and sister wind morality so tight in fear that it cuts off the flow of life. Some ignore morality as if a free life brings no consequences nor responsibilities towards others. Both extremes miss life. Both are outside the tabernacle. Morality exposes us. It unmasks us. Morality is too often our pseudonym. Who really is good enough if the Lord exacts rigor upon us (Psalm 130:3,4)? This makes the “Good enough” approach to faith an exercise in futility and ultimately pointless.
These moral reflections are byproducts rather than end products. Then we can see how a deeper, more precious, thirst for God inspires a continual redirecting of our basis for action. Such a thirsty person would not be perfect, but would be motivated by something beyond themselves: perhaps by love. Yes, love prompts us unto a new way of living, and a new way of relating.
“He who does these things shall never be moved.”
So it seems David is opening up the secret sauce of life and faith. The tabernacle of God is not a destination to which we should seek entrance, it is the solemn center from which we live in the world. Only a fool would trade this kind of transformed morality for a distracted, competitive, meritocracy? Once we experience abiding in love and bliss, the motivations that prey upon the ego lose their ultimate appeal. That is higher consciousness, that is inner transformation, David calls it salvation.
What is left, but communion. Such Divine union was satisfying enough for David despite all his imperfections and failures. Is it satisfying enough for you?