New European Commentary


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Deeper Commentary

Psa 15:1 A Psalm by David.
Yahweh, who shall dwell in Your sanctuary? Who shall live on Your holy hill?-
Perhaps this was written before David took the hill of Zion from the Jebusites. He felt they shouldn't be living there because of how they lived so immorally; and was eager to make it his own inheritance by conquest. And it seems from Ps. 16:5,6 that David considered Zion his personal inheritance where he was to live (see on Ps. 17:14). The priests didn't live in the sanctuary, indeed the High Priest could only enter the most holy place briefly once / year. David seems to have had insight into the fact that ultimately that most holy place would be opened and the "blameless" (:2) would be able to not only enter it but live there permanently. These are the very ideas developed in Hebrews, developing the implications of how the Lord had torn down the veil through His death- that we might enter in and dwell there in God's presence and fellowship.

Psa 15:2 He who walks blamelessly, does what is right-
We wonder at David's possible arrogance in assuming that he or any man can walk blamelessly. Only the Lord Jesus fits this. And yet this is the phrase used in God's command to Abraham and his seed (Gen. 17:1). It was only possible for Abraham to do so by his faith in imputed righteousness, by grace through faith. But it's questionable as to whether David at this point realized that; he had to learn it through reflection upon the wonder of how God had counted him righteous after the sin with Bathsheba.

And speaks truth in his heart- David is to be commended for so often perceiving the importance of internal spiritual mindedness, at a time when religion was perceived merely as ritualism and externalities. It is part of being human that we speak to ourselves, and often our self talk can be fantasy / imagination about things which are not true. But this will lead to doing what is not right, David reasons. To speak the truth in our hearts all the time is perhaps the litmus test of our spiritual mindedness. See on Ps. 16:2.

Psa 15:3 he who doesn’t slander with his tongue, nor does evil to his friend, nor casts slurs against his fellow man-
This  offers commentary upon gossip in relation to our “neighbour”: “He that... speaketh the truth in his heart. He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour, nor receiveth / endureth a reproach against his neighbour” (Ps. 15:2,3 AVmg.). To gossip / backbite is paralleled with receiving gossip. To listen to it and accept it is as bad as to create it in the first place. The antidote is to have a mind that thinks of those things which “are true... lovely... of good report”. We live in a world of conscious untruth and half truth. In our unshareable self, our inner thoughts and musings, let us seek to have only that which is true passing through our meditations. And then we will not want to receive a gossip against our brother, indeed by implication we will not ‘endure’ it, we will tell the gossiper to cease, and certainly not act upon it. 


Psa 15:4 in whose eyes a vile man is despised, but who respects those who fear Yahweh-
But God doesn't despise any (Job 36:5). Throughout David’s Psalms in Ps. 1-72, he repeatedly asks for torture upon the sinners and blessing upon himself as the righteous. He speaks of how sinners should be “despised” in the eyes of the righteous (Ps. 15:4), the gatherings of sinners should be “hated” and sinners should not be fellowshipped (Ps. 26:4-6; Ps. 31:6) and how God’s uprightness is shown to the upright and His judgment to the judgmental (Ps. 18:25,26; Ps. 33:22). He invites God’s judgment upon himself and others according to their and his works (Ps. 28:4).  Frequently he alludes to Saul as “the violent man”- even though David committed his share of violence- and asks judgment upon him (Ps. 18:48). Only those with clean hands and pure heart like himself could have fellowship with God (Ps. 24:3,4). Psalm 37 doesn’t indicate any desire to convert the sinners but rather an expectation of their judgment and destruction. God and David laugh at the wicked because their day is coming (Ps. 37:13). There’s no spirit of grace here at all- perhaps that’s why Zech. 12:10 specifically says that the spirit of grace will have to be poured out upon the house of David in the last days. This attitude changed after the sin with Bathsheba, but still something of the old self righteousness and judgmental attitudes are to be found in David in Psalms written after that.

He who keeps an oath even when it hurts, and doesn’t change- Ps. 15:4, in evident allusion to Jephthah, describes those who will attain the Kingdom as fearing Yahweh, and swearing to their own hurt and changing not. Some may swear and change and attain the Kingdom; but we are invited to follow Jephthah to the highest level. The principle of Jephthah's vow is seen in many other Bible characters.


Psa 15:5 he who doesn’t lend out his money for usury, nor take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things shall never be shaken- This appears to be commentary upon the state of affairs under Saul's kingship; and therefore his kingdom and dynasty was "shaken" and removed.