Who Can Dwell in the Sacred Tent?

In Psalm 15, David asks,

“Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent?
Who may live on your holy mountain?”

Despite language that sounds vaguely like a camping trip, David wasn’t trying to recruit for the Boy Scouts! Instead, think of what God’s sacred tent meant during the time of King David.

When David was on the throne of Israel, he began a construction project that would last beyond his lifetime. The Lord instructed David that he would not be the one to construct the temple — that honor would go to his son, Solomon — and so David did everything he could to prepare the project before he died. The temple was to be a holy place: the presence of God with His people.

Before the Temple’s construction, the presence of God was with His people in a sacred tent, the Tabernacle. Inside the most holy place, the Tabernacle, only the high priest could enter once a year to offer sacrifices for the people.

This is why the Psalm starts with the question, “What does it take to enter God’s presence? Who can go there and not be rejected?”

The rest of the Psalm gives the criteria: one who is blameless does what is right, speaks the truth and utters no slander; basically, it summarizes the Law of God. That is who can be near God, someone who keeps His Law.

So, who can enter God’s holy presence? In one sense, it is a call for all of us to live holy lives — to reject sin and do good deeds. In a deeper sense, however, it should cause us to stop and wonder, “How is it possible for me to be blameless?” Every one of us knows that we have fallen short of perfection. As Paul writes in Romans 3:23, “[A]ll have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Should this lead us to despair? Certainly not!

There is one person who has succeeded where we have failed. There is one who lived a blameless life, the Lord Jesus Christ. In every area where we fail, He has succeeded. He is the only one who is qualified to move into the sacred tent, yet He invites us to come in with Him. He has made a way for us to become right with God. As Charles Wesley wrote in his hymn, “Arise, My Soul, Arise:”

“With confidence I now draw nigh,
and, ’Father, Abba, Father,’ cry.”

The sacred tent is not just for one person! All who believe in Jesus are invited in. Jesus is Lord of all the earth and, as David concludes Psalm 15, He will never be shaken.
Eric Priest
Lay Associate Pastor
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