In July 2017, Canada’s governor general found himself embroiled in a controversy. While descending a flight of steps alongside the Queen of England, he touched the Queen’s elbow to assist her. What was meant as an act of service was actually seen as a breach of protocol, commented on by newspapers all over the world. When meeting the Queen, there are clear guidelines regarding what kind of behavior and actions are appropriate.
In the Old Testament, worshiping the Lord involved certain rituals. Psalm 15 was likely intended as a question and answer psalm for those coming to the sanctuary. When David asks, “Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent?” (v. 1), the Lord replies with a list of eleven characteristics that focus not on external practices, but internal behavior.
The first characteristic is the most general: “One whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous” (v. 2). This does not mean a worshiper must be sinless. Indeed, most people who came to the sanctuary were offering a sacrifice for their sin. Instead, to be blameless meant to have a heart of repentance, one that feared God. The blameless life manifests itself in purity of speech. This person does not “slander” others, but “speaks the truth from the heart” (vv. 2–3).
The blameless person honors the people who fear God while rejecting those who despise Him (v. 4). The blameless are true to their word, even when it is to their disadvantage (v. 4). The blameless are marked by care for the poor. They lend money to the poor without interest. This kind of behavior shows genuine care. God cares deeply about how we treat the poor and vulnerable. He affirms that this is the kind of person who is welcome to worship in His presence.
While it is true that we can come “just as we are” to salvation, the worship of God in His presence should not to be taken lightly or casually (Matt. 5:23–24; 1 Cor. 11:27–32). What matters most to God in worship is not how we are dressed or how well we sing, but that we have a right relationship with the Lord Jesus evidenced by a life of integrity.