Commitment: One Who Dwells Faithfully with God

When we as confessing believers in Christ talk about commitment, what do we mean? Do we approach this act from the view of the world or from the view of a holy God?  Psalm 15 provides deep insight into the way of commitment.  This article focuses on the opening statement:

“O LORD, who shall sojourn in your tent? Who shall dwell on your holy hill?” (15:1-3)

These two rhetorical questions guide the reader to a series of answers. The questions intend to direct attention to genuine commitment to God and people. Two words key the reader into the meaning of genuine commitment: “sojourn” (יָג֣וּר) and “dwell” (יִ֝שְׁכֹּ֗ן).  The first word means to remain, inhabit, abide, or continue.  The second word translated “dwell,” takes on constancy, perpetuation, or permanent residency.  The two words express different status and timing.  Charles John Ellicott (1819-1905) suggests sojourning signifies a guest status (Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers, Psalm 15, https://biblehub.com/commentaries/ellicott/psalms/15.htm).  A little context from Genesis places a guest status in an honorary light as though they belonged there.  Abraham welcomed his guests of angels with very high regard (Genesis 18:1-8).  They were, because they came to Abraham as faithful messengers of God, and one was God!

However, when joined with “dwell,” in addressing the same person, this sojourning regards these guests as more than temporary.  They came as guest but staid as permanent residents.  They made commitment to YAHWEH, the God of all creation and the personal God who welcomes the faithful.  They committed to the God of their eternal home yet to be realized.  They not only sojourned but continued faithfully with their God.  Commitment to such people raises faithfulness to the highest priority.

They walk, speak, and do according to their dwelling faithfulness (15:2).  Nothing deters them from their walking, speaking, and doing God’s will.  With these three acts, they have four people in mind: the neighbor, a friend, a vile person, and those who fear the LORD (15:3-4).  To the first two, the person who commits to God’s wills in walking, speaking, and doing also commits wholeheartedly to one’s neighbor and friend.  One who fears the LORD receives honor beyond a neighbor and friend.  Walking close, speaking well, and doing good show this exemplary honor toward those who fear the LORD.  There is a sense of faithfulness in doing these.  That is, a person who sojourns and dwells with God never breaks commitment to neighbor, friend, and especially to those who fear the LORD.

We will explore neighbors, friends, and those who fear the LORD in more depth in subsequent articles.  We will also examine walking, speaking, and doing in more detail.  These acts towards these groups of people lead to a subsequent crescendo in 15:4, which brings commitment to that which aligns with commitment to God.  Where is your commitment to both God, neighbor, friend, and those who fear the LORD?  Does it last or is it like chaff that blows away when the winds become inconvenient?

“In the Bible, spirituality and ethics go hand in hand; piety and conduct cannot be divorced. There are consequences to our beliefs and spiritual commitments, and these pertain not only to this life but also to the life to come” (Carson, D. A. The Cross and Christian Ministry (p. 81). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.).

Into Your Hands

Just before Jesus expended His last breath, He cried to His Father,Hope

Into Your hand I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46).

Those nearby who were well acquainted with the Scriptures, especially the Psalms would have recognized that He recited Psalm 31:5.  He had the word of God on His lips with His final breath.  It sustained Him throughout His life.  In one incident when He encountered Satan, Satan said to Jesus,

If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread” (Matthew 4:3).

Jesus replied from Torah,

Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (4:4).

Satan continued to try trip him by also quoting Scripture back to Jesus out of context.  However, Jesus knew the Scriptures well and would not be fooled by Satan’s trickery.  Jesus frequently used Scriptures in countering the arguments of the Pharisees and Sadducees and giving a defense for His Father and His decrees and declarations.  He taught the truth of the Scriptures to His disciples so they would gain strength from them in time of need and be able to offer a defense for the truth in the life of Jesus.  The Scriptures became Jesus’ sustenance in life and in death.

His example teaches us that the Scriptures are our authority and their content are lamp and life.  Relying on the Scriptures is relying on God.  Both God and His word are the content and strength of our lives.  The particular passage from Psalm 31:5 illustrates this assurance.  King David never knew that the Messiah, the Son of God, his offspring would quote from his psalm.  He never knew the vitality of his psalm for all subsequent generations.  He never realized that this truth would give assurance to so many.  Although he wrote it initially for himself, we recognize that he also intended it to be for the entire congregation of God.  The heading informs us of his purpose,

To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David.”

He saw commitment to God his lifelong vision and allegiance, even in death, because he recognized God was his redeemer (Psalm 31:5).  He gives a litany of distresses and troubles he encountered throughout his life and concludes,

But as for me, I trust in You, O LORD; I say, “You are my God.” My times are in Your hand” (31:14-15).

At the conclusion of his psalm, David turns to his audience, the congregation for whom he intended it and announces,

Oh, love the LORD, all you His saints! For the LORD preserves the faithful, And fully repays the proud person. Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart, All you who hope in the LORD.”

He wants to assure them that commitment to God meant safety, because those whom God considers “saints” or set-aside ones are safe in His hands.  They can be courageous and hopeful, knowing that the strength and power to endure hardship comes from God.  God holds His saints tightly in His hand.  Jesus, our Savior set the example on the cross when He cried to His Father,

Into Your hands I commit My spirit” Luke 23:46.

God is our Father, also, and we like Jesus can trust Him to care for us.