"...to console those who mourn in Zion,
to give them beauty for ashes,
the oil of joy for mourning,
the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
that they may be called trees of righteousness,
the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified."
This is the third time I’ve written here about Psalm 15, and by now you might be wondering why, out of the whole big Bible, I have stalled over these five verses.
If I answered that it’s because I love God so much that all I want in life is to sojourn with Him in His tent, that would be partly true. I say “partly” because this side of heaven, I’m not sure anything about me will be entirely sincere. And that gets to why this Psalm has such a hold on me.
Life is hard. People can be cruel, judgmental, and deceptive. But God’s tent is a safe place. It’s full of people who can be trusted, people who have each other’s back, who laugh and cry as one, who genuinely want the best for each other. After the life I’ve lived and the heartbreaks I’ve suffered, what more could I ever want than to be loved by God and surrounded by people who love me?
But when I read this Psalm I also realize that I don’t belong in that tent. Though I wish it weren’t so and in spite of all my prayer and efforts, every thought in my heart is not true, nor is every word from my mouth gracious. I am not always the safe person I want everyone else to be for me.
Oh, Lord, who shall sojourn in your tent? Who shall dwell on your holy hill?
What do I do, then, with the fact that this is the hill where I want to dwell; these are the people I want for my friends; and this is the kind of person I want more than anything to be? What hope is there for me on God’s impossible hill? What hope is there for any of us?
But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption…For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. (Hebrews 9.11-2, 24)
The writer to the Hebrews gives all of us who share this desire to dwell with God the hope we so desperately need. Christ has entered God’s tent on our behalf. He has paid the price for our sin so that we can stand before God, forgiven and learn to forgive each other as He transforms us day by day into exactly the kind of people we want others to be. For those who trust Him, Christ has made God’s impossible hill our surest hope.