A Question and an Answer
Psalm 15:1-5
Lord, who shall abide in your tabernacle? who shall dwell in your holy hill?…

Question: Who is the man who would be able to ascend unto that hill of God where the highest visions of the Almighty may be perceived? The answer is: The man whose life is blameless. All that follows is a description of the moral qualifications of such a man. What is striking in the Psalm is the moral principle which seems to underlie it. There are laws in the spiritual kingdom, and the Psalmist gets a glimpse of these spiritual laws, and he makes them the subject of his poem. The law here is this, that the condition of power in life, and the condition of the vision of the Almighty, is to be found in the ethical or moral considerations. It is the man whose life is blameless, the man whose character will bear investigation, the man whose whole being and nature are animated by a strict regard of what is morally right and true, that comes by degrees to this possession of strong invincible character, and that capacity for seeing the highest things of God. There is no idea here that the Psalmist can purchase the vision of God by the payment of so much good done. To do that would have been to vitiate the whole moral basis of the idea; for if a man seeks heaven for profit he is not, of course, a heavenly-minded person. Morality and spirituality must be genuine and sincere if they are to be moral or spiritual things at all. What the Psalmist does set forth is this, that the conditions of this insight and power of life lie, not so much in the possession of intellectual force as in the possession of moral capacities. There is a constant tendency to confuse religion with theology. Theology is only the scientific expression of the ideas which are incorporated in religion. Religion itself is quite different. A man may be religious who has very small theological opinions. Our power of seeing Divine things does not depend so much upon our moral integrity as upon our spiritual devotion. Religion is a moral sympathy between the soul of the creature and the spirit of the Creator. It is the moral sympathy between you and me in this world and the great God who put us into this world. That is what is said in the Gospel of St. John, "If any man will do His will," — if a man has a moral desire to follow out the Divine ideal in his life, if his soul is in sympathy with the Divine moral earnestness, then he shall be able to understand; he will gain a perception of the meaning of God's action, and the vision of God which would otherwise be denied him. Observe the wonderful way in which the same thought underlies the great creation of the Italian poet. This Psalm is a sort of "Divine Comedy" in miniature, for it exactly expresses the thought which Dante had in his mind. What are the conditions, according to Dante, in which a man can enter into the vision of the great paradise over his head? He must have understood evil, and seen it in all its hideousness, and must have overcome and climbed that steep of purgatory, disciplining by degrees the moral defects in him, until at last, when he climbs to the summit of the mount of purgatory, he is the immovable man, the man who is crowned with crown and mitre, as god over himself. And only when that is achieved, when that moral sincerity is at last made a real thing in him, is he capable of ascending under the guidance of Divine truth into the lofty regions of paradise. This is exactly the same thought. What an enormous source of joy that ought to be to the human heart. Let us remember that we have within us a Divine Spirit that is constantly prompting us to higher things.

(W. Boyd Carpenter, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: {A Psalm of David.} LORD, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill?

WEB: Yahweh, who shall dwell in your sanctuary? Who shall live on your holy hill?

A Life Without Reproach
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