Psalm 15:1-5

A Psalm of David.

1 Lord, who may abide in Your tabernacle?
Who may dwell in Your holy hill?

He who walks uprightly,
    And works righteousness,
    And speaks the truth in his heart;

He who does not backbite with his tongue,
    Nor does evil to his neighbor,
    Nor does he take up a reproach against his friend;

In whose eyes a vile person is despised,
    But he honors those who fear the Lord;
He who swears to his own hurt and does not change;

He who does not put out his money at usury,
    Nor does he take a bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things shall never be moved.

Categorized as a wisdom psalm.

The psalm and the Sermon on the Mount describe those who are to be citizens of the millennial kingdom.

But the great theme of the Psalm is: Who shall be entitled to reign on Mount Zion as a king over the kingdom? i.e., Who is to be the Chief Citizen of the kingdom of Heaven when established upon earth? The answer (vs.2-5) describes a Man who once lived on earth and who has never had a moral peer. That man is Messiah. He alone satisfies the requirements of vs. 2-5. — Williams, page 307

Thematically it serves as a link between the previous and the following psalms, presenting the counterpart of the fool (i.e., unrighteous) described in Psalm 14 while at the same time anticipating the specific content of faith described in Psalm 16. — Wechsler, page 54.

Your holy hill (v.1) — probably a reference to Mount Zion in Jerusalem where the tabernacle was located. Some commentaries suggest that the psalm was written when the Ark was taken to the tabernacle.

David is anticipating the final state of the believer (on which note he ends the psalm), in the new heavens and new earth, when, rather than being a restricted place within creation, God’s Tabernacle will consist of all creation (cf. Revelation 21:3, 22) and the believer, clothed in immortality and perfection will indeed dwell forever therein. — Wechsler, page 55.

The truly faithful person not only works (i.e., does deeds of) righteousness — which, at least with respect to fulfilling the requirements of God’s Law, even the faithless can (and did) do — but also one who speaks truth in his heart — that is to say, whose “inner works” (i.e., thoughts and motivations) are also characterized by righteousness and love. This point, it should be noted, is a central theme throughout the Bible … (see, e.g., Genesis 6:5; Deuteronomy 30:6, 10; Psalm 51:17; Proverbs 23:7; Isaiah 19:18), and epitomized in both testaments by the two greatest commandments (Deuteronomy 6:5; Leviticus 19:18; Matthew 22:36-40). Indeed, the second of these is here specifically intimated by the statement “he does no evil to his neighbor” — which is the precise apophatic counterpart of the command to “love” one’s “neighbor.” — Wechsler, page 55.

backbite (v.3) = slander

usury (v.5) — loaning money at high interest rates.

never be moved (v.5) = never lose or be separated — from his promised inheritance of life in the eternity in the presence of God. This theme is taken up in Psalm 16.

David wrote this psalm during the dispensation of the law. The Bible makes it clear that no man can be justified by the law (Galatians 2:16) because no man can keep the law. God, in His grace, gave us the moral law to point us to Christ. But before Christ came, those (everyone) who broke the moral law could keep the ceremonial law, which was a picture of Christ and which covered sins until Christ died and rose again. So, this psalm could not be talking about the general condition of individual Israelites at the time it was written. Therefore, it makes sense to me that it points forward to the kingdom when believing Jews will have the law written on their hearts and will be able to keep it, and also it points to Jesus Christ, the Messiah, who is the only Man who has kept the law. At the same time, it could refer to the heart condition of a Jew who desired to be righteous and was keeping the ceremonial law — with the caveat that this was a condition that would be frequently compromised by sin and which could only be maintained by a rigorous following of the ceremonial law.

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