O Yahweh, who can sojourn in your tent?
Who can live on your holy mountain?
He who walks blamelessly, and performs righteousness,
and speaks truth in his heart…
For the longest time, the concept of righteousness and holiness both fascinated and flummoxed me. Since I knew from a young age about sin nature, it seemed like righteous, holy living might just be a pipe dream. How did we know when “good” was “good enough”—if it ever was? If we’d never be perfect, what was the point of trying? Were we just running the hopeless hamster wheel of sin, trying and trying to get somewhere but doomed to always be stuck…and if so, what did it matter how hard we tried? Couple that with the fact that I saw plenty of Christians browbeat others with manmade concepts of righteousness, and the whole thing began to feel hopeless. An unexplainable, unanswerable concept.
It wasn’t until 2019—after more than a decade of wrestling with the concept of righteousness and holy conduct—that my heart was in the right place to hear God whisper: Right living is about being closer to Me.
It finally clicked. When we strive to walk worthy, when we prioritize holiness, righteousness, and goodness, it lessens the fog of the world around us. It allows us to see more clearly, to see God more clearly, and to have more intimate fellowship with Him as we follow more keenly in Jesus’ footsteps.
The psalmist lays this out so masterfully by listing just a few attributes of someone who can sojourn in Yahweh’s tent and live on His mountain—terms used to metaphorically and literally describe places of dwelling. To dwell with God, to be invited into His space, His house, the psalmist calls on people who perform righteousness and walk blamelessly. Now, obviously we’re going to stumble, and we will never live in total blamelessness; this was part of the veil torn by Jesus’ sacrifice. Yet though we have access now to God’s throne through the shed blood of the Lamb, if we indulge in unrighteous living just because the blood covers our sin, we’re going to find ourselves in the fog again. It’s inevitable…and it draws us away from Him. The opposite direction of where we want to go.
The point is not that we live flawlessly; it’s that we do our very best to remain in growing relationship with God. This includes things like the psalmist urges: not taking bribes, not slandering or reproaching; keeping oaths even when it hurts, not being bought off, honoring those who fear Yahweh, etc. All of these are tentpoles of righteousness, part of the holy walk we should strive for. People who live this way, Scripture tells us, “will never be shaken”. And how could they be, when they’re sojourning in Yahweh’s tent?
I don’t know about you, but that sounds like the place I want to be. And I encourage us all to walk the walk and live the best we can to draw nearer to God. We could all use a little less shaking and a whole lot more dwelling on Yahweh’s holy mountain.