The Good Citizen
Psalm 15:1-5
Lord, who shall abide in your tabernacle? who shall dwell in your holy hill?…

The qualities which are required of one, not who visits the tabernacle merely, but who dwells in it, — not who ascends the hill only, but rests on it, — are those of an ordinary citizen, those without which a man cannot fulfil any of his common duties in the world. Nay, the qualities are chiefly negative. It is not said that he must be brave, magnanimous, ready to sacrifice himself. He is not to be corrupt in his life, not to take reward against the innocent, not to lie. One of the conditions reads as if it were drawn merely from the civil code of the nation. We have talked as if people might be very good in all relations with their neighbours, and yet not be servants of God. They must be something over and above true citizens for this. But the Old Testament books never teach this. They say boldly, "You are not honest and straightforward in your dealings, and so you think God is the same with you. You do not trust Him. You do not confess your sins to Him, nor draw nigh to His holy hill." And has the New Testament altered this? Does it teach another lesson? No doubt there is this, that it teaches more perfectly how we may rise up out of our old evil habits; how God has revealed His righteousness in Christ for the remission of sins. But He has revealed His righteousness, and no unrighteousness call have fellowship with Him. Christ is our help to this righteousness, that we may share His nature. Now, do we agree to this? Then let us rejoice and sing; for Christ has ascended on high, that we might be delivered from our old evil life, and that we might possess a righteous life in Him. But if this is not what we want, if we want a religion that will make us easy and comfortable in the frauds which belong to our different crafts and professions, — if the shopkeeper lifts up his voice loudly in the denunciation of Popery or some unpopular opinion, that he may more securely and with less sense of self-reproach adulterate his goods, and use the false weight and the deceitful balance, which are abominable, — then we ought to be told, one and all of us, that the hill of Sinai, with all its thunders, is not more terrible than the Zion on which God dwells; that the New Testament is not more but less tolerant of such practices than the Old, and that God will appear as a swift witness against our crimes and falsehoods. And this not because we are wanting in some transcendent qualities which men have dreamed of as befitting a Church, but because we have those qualities which are the death of nations. But many look upon the nation and the Church as scarcely compatible, indeed, as mostly the opposites of each other. No doubt that with the theory of some in regard to the Church they are opposites. But a nation is pledged, to maintain a wholesome, practical, manly morality, entirely opposed to that morality of "touch not, taste not, handle not" which a Church such as I have described must by its nature favour, and has always favoured in fact, — a morality consistent with the grossest deviations from common truth and honesty. And I solemnly conjure Protestant assertors of individual holiness to see well to it that by their teaching they are not hindering the great protest against idolatry which is involved in the very existence of a nation; whether they are not substituting certain capricious and artificial maxims for the homely morality of the Bible, and whether thus they may not be preparing their sons for that very system which they most dread. But, on the other hand, I would maintain that a holy Catholic Church, in its truest, widest, deepest sense, does lie beneath the holy and righteous nation; that they are not contraries, but that one is the vestibule to the other; that each is the support of the other; that this Church is no imaginary utopian society, no artificial society, but a real society constituted in Christ our ascended Lord. Thus the ascension of Christ to the right hand of the Father, that He might fill all things, is the meeting point between these two Divine principles, these two human societies. In it we find the consummation of all the expectations and hopes of the old world, that in it we might find the beginning of all that is purest and holiest in the new.

(F. D. Maurice, M. A.)

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?

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