Psalm 15 – The Hill Guy

Bible opened to Psalm 15 with Green and Black's organic 85% cacao dark chocolate

Today’s passage: Psalm 15

Today’s chocolate: Green & Black’s 85% Cacao Dark Chocolate

I’m gonna propose an idea here. Each of these behaviors that David lists in vv.3-5 constitutes “walking with integrity” and is pleasing to God because man is made in God’s image and derives his value from the Creator that he images. Let’s go, point by point.

  • v.3, refraining from slander: Humans, like God, should be viewed as they actually are. When we damage their reputation, we deny them the respect that they actually merit–and we deny those we are lying to an accurate understanding of the person we’re slandering.
  • v.3, not doing evil to one’s neighbor: If this isn’t self-explanatory, I don’t know what is. When we seek to harm something God values, we seek to harm God. Being infinite in power, he can take anything we can dish out–but you’d better believe it doesn’t please him.
  • v.3, not reproaching one’s friend: As above, but worse. It’s not just wrecking shop on someone’s reputation, it’s a betrayal of trust. God doesn’t put friends in our lives so we can crap on them.
  • v.4, despising a reprobate: Okay, now that’s tricky. If man is made in God’s image, then doesn’t despising man constitute despising something God values? The thing about the reprobate, though, is that he’s already taken God’s image in himself and dragged it through the mud. “Despising the reprobate,” as I understand it, is acknowledging what he’s done to himself. The righteous man looks at this guy and says, “It is precisely because God has made you in his image that what you’ve done disgusts me.” Am I stretching?
  • v.4, honoring those who fear the Lord: The converse situation to despising a reprobate. When others do a good job of upholding the dignity that God has granted them as his creation, we honor God by honoring others.
  • v.4, swearing to one’s own hurt and keeping one’s promise: If you make a promise but fail to keep it, you display integrity by bearing the consequences of your failure to follow through. That’s “swearing to one’s own hurt.” You either do what you said you would, or you respect others by not saddling them with the pain of mopping up your own mess. In this way, you respect God and the value he places both on truth and human beings.
  • v.5, not charging interest: Does demanding back more money than you lent someone disrespect them by placing unjust strain on them? Does it disrespect you by putting a higher value on money than on God and the humans he’s created? I’ll admit I can’t quite make the connection here, but I can at least see the trajectory it may take. If you can fill in the blanks, I welcome your thoughts here.
  • v.5, refusing bribes against the innocent: See “not doing evil to one’s neighbor.” Then make it worse by adding blood money.

And there you go! Who may abide in God’s tent? Who may dwell on his holy hill? (v.1) The guy who respects his fellow man as a being with mind, will, and emotions, just like the Creator who modeled him after himself. Be a Hill Guy, you guys.

Today I broke out a new bar of chocolate: Green & Black’s 85% cacao. It is ferociously dark–still sweet, but also bitter and strong. It’s got a different flavor from coffee, but all of its potency on the palate. There’s still some espresso-chunk Equal Exchange in my chocolate stash, so I’ll be flipping between the two over the next handful of business days. And I say “business days” because blogging is serious business! I’ll see you guys tomorrow with more business.

 

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2 thoughts on “Psalm 15 – The Hill Guy

  1. A: this is one of my favorites, not so much for its content as because it is one I still have memorized, and so brings the pleasure of familiarity.

    B: So in regards to the charging of interest, I suspect that may have something to do with the fundamental unreality of money as a means of valuation. From the divine perspective, nothing about having money has intrinsic value – you partake neither more nor less in the image of God because you are rich. When you charge someone interest, you are not selling him your labor or your goods. You are, essentially, making money off the fact that you are wealthy and your neighbor is not. You are valuing value.

    C: The contrast between man and money and who is made in whose image is underlined rather sharply in the Matthew 22 bit where Jesus is asked whether it is lawful to pay the Imperial tax. His response is to ask whose image in on the coin. “Give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” The unspoken other half: Who bears God’s image?

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    1. All good points, Katherine. When you put it that way, charging interest seems like a pretty clear-cut case of valuing money more than humans. And I’ve heard it suggested that the unspoken other half is all things are God’s (even those which are ostensibly Caesar’s), but I think the implied question “Who bears God’s image?” is a new one to me. Thanks for filling in the blanks!

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