|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
15:1-5 The way to heaven, if we would be happy, we must be holy. We are encouraged to walk in that way. - Here is a very serious question concerning the character of a citizen of Zion. It is the happiness of glorified saints, that they dwell in the holy hill; they are at home there, they shall be for ever there. It concerns us to make it sure to ourselves that we have a place among them. A very plain and particular answer is here given. Those who desire to know their duty, will find the Scripture a very faithful director, and conscience a faithful monitor. A citizen of Zion is sincere in his religion. He is really what he professes to be, and endeavours to stand complete in all the will of God. He is just both to God and man; and, in speaking to both, speaks the truth in his heart. He scorns and abhors wrong and fraud; he cannot reckon that a good bargain, nor a saving one, which is made with a lie; and knows that he who wrongs his neighbour will prove, in the end, to have most injured himself. He is very careful to do hurt to no man. He speaks evil of no man, makes not others' faults the matter of his common talk; he makes the best of every body, and the worst of nobody. If an ill-natured story be told him, he will disprove it if he can; if not, it goes no further. He values men by their virtue and piety. Wicked people are vile people, worthless, and good for nothing; so the word signifies. He thinks the worse of no man's piety for his poverty and mean condition. He reckons that serious piety puts honour upon a man, more than wealth, or a great name. He honours such, desires their conversation and an interest in their prayers, is glad to show them respect, or do them a kindness. By this we may judge of ourselves in some measure. Even wise and good men may swear to their own hurt: but see how strong the obligation is, a man must rather suffer loss to himself and his family, than wrong his neighbour. He will not increase his estate by extortion, or by bribery. He will not, for any gain, or hope of it to himself, do any thing to hurt a righteous cause. Every true living member of the church, like the church itself, is built upon a Rock. He that doeth these things shall not be moved for ever. The grace of God shall always be sufficient for him. The union of these tempers and this conduct, can only spring from repentance for sin, faith in the Saviour, and love to him. In these respects let us examine and prove our own selves.
Verse 1. - Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? rather, Who shall sojourn? Whom wilt thou accept as a sojourner in thy tent, to be near to thee, and consort with thee? Who shall dwell (i.e. whom wilt thou permit to dwell) in thy holy hill? The "tabernacle" and the "holy hill" of Zion are, of course, not to be understood literally. They are figurative expressions, pointing to the Divine presence and favour, and the blessedness of abiding in them.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle?.... This question, with the following, is put by the psalmist in a view of the sad corruption and degeneracy of mankind described in the preceding psalm, which renders the sons of men unfit for the presence of God, and communion with him; and it is put to the Lord himself, the founder of Zion, who has set his King over this holy hill of his; who has enacted laws for the good of it, and brings his people thither, making them meet for it, and so is most proper to give the qualifications of such as are admitted here; for by the tabernacle is meant not the human nature of Christ, as in Hebrews 8:2; as some interpret it, and apply all the characters in the following verses to Christ; nor heaven itself, of which the holy place made with hands in the tabernacle and temple were a figure, Hebrews 9:24; for to "sojourn" (d) or "lodge", as in an inn, as the word rendered abide signifies, will not suit with that state and place which is fixed and immovable; but the church of God on earth, called a "tabernacle", in allusion to the tabernacle of Moses, where God granted his presence, sacrifices were offered up with acceptance, and the holy vessels were put; and which was mean without, but rich and glorious within: so God affords his gracious presence in his church, accepts the spiritual sacrifices of prayer and praise offered to him there; and here are the vessels of mercy placed, which are sanctified and meet for the master's use; and though it is mean and despicable in its outward appearance, in the eyes of men, it is all glorious within; see Sol 1:6; and this is the tabernacle of God, being of his building and preserving, and the place of his residence;
who shall dwell in thy holy hill? the same is here intended as in the preceding clause; the allusion is to Mount Zion, whither the ark of the Lord was brought in David's time, and on one part of which the temple was afterwards built: and the church may be compared to this hill, for its eminence and visibility in the world; for the holiness which God has put upon it, and for the immovableness of it; for though like, a tabernacle it may be carried from place to place, yet it is like an hill that can never be removed out of the world; it is built on a sure foundation, the Rock of ages. Now the purport of these questions is, who is a proper person to be an inhabitant of Zion? or to be a member of the church of God? the answer is in the following verses.
(d) "peregrinabitur", Pagninus, Montanus; "diversabitur", Muis; so Ainsworth; "vel hospitabitur", Cocceius.
The Treasury of David
1 Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill?
Jehovah. Thou high and holy One, who shall be permitted to have fellowship with thee? The heavens are not pure in thy sight, and thou chargedst thine angels with folly, who then of mortal mould shall dwell with thee, thou dread consuming fire? A sense of the glory of the Lord and of the holiness which becomes his house, his service, and his attendants, excites the humble mind to ask the solemn question before us. Where angels bow with veiled faces, how shall man be able to worship at all? The unthinking many imagine it to be a very easy matter to approach the Most High, and when professedly engaged in his worship they have no questionings of heart as to their fitness for it; but truly humbled souls often shrink under a sense of utter unworthiness, and would not dare to approach the throne of the God of holiness if it were not for him, our Lord, our Advocate, who can abide in the heavenly temple, because his righteousness endureth for ever. "Who shall abide in thy tabernacle?" Who shall be admitted to be one of the household of God, to sojourn under his roof and enjoy communion with himself? "Who shall dwell in thy holy hill?" Who shall be a citizen of Zion, and an inhabitant of the heavenly Jerusalem? The question is raised, because it is a question. All men have not this privilege, nay, even among professors there are aliens from the commonwealth, who have no secret intercourse with God. On the grounds of law no mere man can dwell with God, for there is not one upon earth who answers to the just requirements mentioned in the succeeding verses. The questions in the text are asked of the Lord, as if none but the Infinite Mind could answer them so as to satisfy the unquiet conscience. We must know from the Lord of the tabernacle what are the qualifications for his service, and when we have been taught of him, we shall clearly see that only our spotless Lord Jesus, and those who are conformed unto his image, can ever stand with acceptance before the Majesty on high.
Impertinent curiosity frequently desires to know who and how many snail be saved; if those who thus ask the question, "Who shall dwell in thy holy hill?" would make it a soul-searching enquiry in reference to themselves they would act much more wisely. Members of the visible church, which is God's tabernacle of worship, and hill of eminence, should diligently see to it, that they have the preparation of heart which fits them to be inmates of the house of God. Without the wedding dress of righteousness in Christ Jesus, we have no right to sit at the banquet of communion. Without uprightness of walk we are not fit for the imperfect church on earth, and certainly we must not hope to enter the perfect church above.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Ps 15:1-5. Those who are fit for communion with God may be known by a conformity to His law, which is illustrated in various important particulars.
1. abide—or, "sojourn" (compare Ps 5:4), where it means under God's protection here, as (Ps 23:6, 27:4, 6) communion.
tabernacle—seat of the ark (2Sa 6:17), the symbol of God's presence.
holy hill—(Compare Ps 2:6).
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