Reading: Psalm 5
Evil may not dwell with you… But through the abundance of your steadfast love I will enter your house. I will bow down toward your holy temple in fear of you.
(Psalm 5:4, 7)
The “health and wealth” gospel says that if you have enough faith then God will heal you and provide an abundance of material possessions for you. The wealth and prestige of many of the ministers who preach this gospel seem to demonstrate its truth. Many who follow them hope to be like them.
But the picture of salvation in the Bible is not one of material prosperity. Instead, salvation in the Bible is nearness to God. It is to have no outstanding debts between you. It is to have no grudge or sin that blocks the way of free communication. It is be at peace with one another, reconciled together, though you were once enemies. It is to be adopted sons and daughters.
The wicked in this psalm are primarily those who lie, who do not speak the truth, who flatter to your face but curse you behind your back. They seek their own gain at the expense of the truth, and thereby at the expense of others. They do not seek the Lord and his will. They do not fear him.
Jesus said that these have their reward already. The Pharisees standing in the street corner praying, being admired by the masses—they have already gotten what they were after. So the prosperity gospel preacher with his planes and luxury homes. They do not see salvation as nearness to God. But the wicked will not enter his courts. “Evil may not dwell with you.”
But, if we’re honest with ourselves, we share many of the same qualities and characteristics, don’t we? We bend the truth to make ourselves look good. We spend our money freely on ourselves while neglecting the church and the poor. We flatter someone to their face, but then speak ill of them when they’re not around. We substitute material prosperity for true salvation—nearness to God. Indeed, Paul uses v. 9 in Romans 3:13 to describe the sinfulness of all of mankind: “their throat is an open grave.”
David, recognizes all of this when he writes, “But through the abundance of your steadfast love I will enter your house.” David knows that it will not be on account of his goodness that he will enter the courts of the king; it will be on account of God’s lovingkindness. David cannot rely on his own moral uprightness to stand before God. It is only by God’s commitment to David that he will enter into eternal life.
This really is the heart of our faith. It is a confidence, not in ourselves, but in God and his faithfulness to us through Jesus Christ, our Lord. And it begins with a desire to dwell with God, to be in his house, to know him and to be known by him. That is true salvation.
“Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent” (John 17:3).
Lord, forgive us when we seek after the things of the flesh, when we do not walk according to the Spirit. Grant us pardon and do not take your presence from us. Instead, according to your steadfast love, make us to dwell in your house for all eternity. And teach us now to desire what is good and right and true. Grant us repentance from our idolatries, and turn our hearts towards you again.