Year A – Epiphany 4 – Psalm 15

Psalms 15 – A Psalm of David. 1 O LORD, who may abide in your tent? Who may dwell on your holy hill?   2 Those who walk blamelessly, and do what is right, and speak the truth from their heart; 3 who do not slander with their tongue, and do no evil to their friends, nor take up a reproach against their neighbors; 4 in whose eyes the wicked are despised, but who honor those who fear the LORD; who stand by their oath even to their hurt; 5 who do not lend money at interest, and do not take a bribe against the innocent. Those who do these things shall never be moved.

Listen to Version of this Psalm (from the Reformation)

Background – This Psalm asks for and answers the qualifications to enter into the Divine presence. It is important to place this Psalm in biblical history. This is a Psalm of David and was first used in the unique Tabernacle of David (1 Chr. 16). David set up this tent/tabernacle for the Ark of the Covenant, after the fall of the Mosiac Tabernacle at Shiloh (with High Priest Eli’s family). It was also before Solomon’s temple. Three important matters stand out about the Tabernacle of David in contrast to the previous Mosaic Tabernacle. 1) Unlike the Mosaic Tabernacle, the Ark was not hidden behind a veil or curtain. Worshipers were “before” the Ark which was in the “middle of the tent” (2Sam. 6:17 NET, 1Chr. 16:4). 2) Unlike the Mosaic Tabernacle, the worshipers included Gentiles along with Jews, namely Obed-Edom the Gittite (1Chr. 16:5, 2Kgs 6:10-11). 3) Unlike the Mosaic Tabernacle in which there were no songs of praise, worship at the Davidic Tabernacle emphasized praise with musical instruments, rather than animal sacrifice. Such animal sacrifices were still happening at Gibeon (1 Chr. 16:39) in a different worship structure which carried on Mosaic sacrifices.

Insight – The Tabernacle of David foreshadowed the new covenant era (Acts 15) when worshipers would come before God without sacrificial animal representatives. Of course the animals were always meant to signify people ascending before God, cleansed and transformed. But this would happen finally through the once-for-all sacrifice of Christ. Now His people are to come before Him in the purity of faith, repentantly, and humbly (Mic. 6:8) and without the need of bloody sacrifices. We are to be living sacrifices.

Discussion – What are some of the qualifications in Psalm 15 for entering into God’s presence? How would you translate them into your experience today?

Prayer – Almighty and Holy Father, we are sinners who have violated your commands, but we plead with you through the work of Christ to accept us before you, cleansing us from our sins and granting us repentance from every evil. Strengthen us in being faithful to your law through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Year A – Proper 7 – Romans 6:1-11

Romans 6:1–11 – What then are we to say? Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin go on living in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For whoever has died is freed from sin. 8 But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin, once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Summary and Insight – As we enter Trinity Season of the church calendar year, you may notice that the Epistle readings for the upcoming weeks will be coming from the book of Romans, highlighting certain passages starting at chapter 6. This passage deals with the truth that everyone is a slave to something or somebody. As Bob Dylan sang “It may be the Devil, or it may be the Lord, but you’re gonna have to serve somebody!” We can either be slaves to sin, which leads to death, or we can serve the crucified, risen and reigning Lord Jesus Christ, which leads to life. We who have been united to Christ by faith are no longer under the dominion of sin. That means that sin no longer is ruler of our lives, but through Jesus, we have become slaves of righteousness. We must remember that it is all due to his grace. It is only through grace that we no longer have to serve sin, but we are freed in order to serve Christ. But we now have a simple choice to make, will we serve a loving master who desires that we have eternal life and fellowship with him, or will we serve our sinful desires, which will always and ultimately end in death?

Discussion – How does our status as Christians being united to Christ free us to serve Christ?  What ways are we still allowing sin to reign in our lives?

Prayer – Heavenly Father, We thank you for the incarnation, life, death, resurrection, and ascension of your son. We thank you that we have been united with Him, that we would no longer be slaves to sin. We acknowledge that we fall short, and still allow sin in our lives. We pray for the grace to put away our sin, so that we may serve only Christ. We thank you for our new freedom in Christ. And we ask this all in his name. Amen.

Contributed by Jared McNabb