A Psalm of David. LORD, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy 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. One of the conditions reads as if it were drawn merely from the civil code of the Israelites, as if it were temporary and local, but all are of the same mundane, commonplace kind. The true key to this difficulty is found in a principle which goes through the whole of the Jewish polity and of Old Testament history. God is throughout spoken of as bringing His people into a true and right state, a state of fellowship with Himself. It was no contradiction to say of any men whomsoever who had been taken into God's covenant, "They are wholly a right seed; whatsoever of wrong springs up in them is of their own seeking; it will come from their choosing a way of their own, from their liking to be independent of their actual Ruler." But what was the necessary corollary from this statement? Surely that there must be certain evil habits or tendencies which denoted a determination not to abide in the state into which God had called them. To resist these habits was to acquire a fixed dwelling in God's tabernacle, a rest upon His holy hill. No Jew could dare to say that God was present with him because he was better or more believing than his brethren. The Lord was in the holy hill, the Protector of the city, the bond of Jewish fellowship. The man who wanted to be something better than a citizen must go without the Divine protection; he could not abide in the tabernacle, or rest on Zion.
I. The Lord, on the holy hill of Zion, was an object of distinct, definite contemplation. When we speak of the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, do we mean a Being less distinct, less personal? Our reverence is not promoted, but destroyed, by vagueness and unreality.
II. The ascension of Christ, like the placing of the tabernacle on the holy hill, claims equal privileges for us all. Christ has claimed for us a place in His Father's house, the place of sons and daughters. His Father is our Father. In that right we may ascend the holy hill. To say that we ascend it in virtue of any feelings, sensations, holiness, of ours is to set aside the incarnation, sacrifice, ascension, of Christ.
III. What then is the reason why we do not receive these blessings, seeing that they are so freely given? The fifteenth Psalm again gives the reason. The New Testament tells us more perfectly than the Old how we may rise out of the most base, corrupt, dishonest habits, how God has revealed His righteousness in Christ, for the remission of sins. But He has revealed His righteousness. Therefore He has said that no unrighteousness can have any fellowship or intercourse with Him.
F. D. Maurice, Sermons, vol. ii., p. 69.
References: Psalm 15—A. Maclaren, Life of David, p. 174; I. Williams, The Psalms Interpreted of Christ, p. 272. Psalm 16:2, Psalm 16:3.—Preacher's Monthly, vol. v., p. 318.
He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart.
He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour.
In whose eyes a vile person is contemned; but he honoureth them that fear the LORD. He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not.
He that putteth not out his money to usury, nor taketh reward against the innocent. He that doeth these things shall never be moved.