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Bible Commentaries

Utley's You Can Understand the Bible

Psalms 15

Psalms 15:0

STROPHE DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
Description of a Citizen of Zion The Character of Those Who May Dwell with the Lord A Liturgy for Admission to the Temple What God Requires The Guest of Yahweh
MT Intro “A Psalm of David”
Psalms 15:1-5 Psalms 15:1 Psalms 15:1 Psalms 15:1 Psalms 15:1
Psalms 15:2-5b Psalms 15:2-5b Psalms 15:2-5b Psalms 15:2-3a
Psalms 15:3-4b
Psalms 15:4-5
Psalms 15:5c Psalms 15:5c Psalms 15:5c

READING CYCLE THREE (see “Guide to Good Bible Reading”)

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

Verses 1-5

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Psalms 15:1-5 1O Lord, who may abide in Your tent? Who may dwell on Your holy hill? 2He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness, And speaks truth in his heart. 3He does not slander with his tongue, Nor does evil to his neighbor, Nor takes up a reproach against his friend; 4In whose eyes a reprobate is despised, But who honors those who fear the Lord; He swears to his own hurt and does not change; 5He does not put out his money at interest, Nor does he take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things will never be shaken.

Psalms 15:1 “Lord” This is the covenant name for Deity from the Hebrew verb “to be.” See SPECIAL TOPIC: NAMES FOR DEITY.

“who” Verse Psalms 15:1 is a question which may be a textual marker for a type of liturgy used for those who enter the temple on a feast day.

“Your tent. . .Your holy hill” These are parallel which means the verbs (“abide” and “dwell”) are also. The concept of being in YHWH's temple permanently (cf. Psalms 23:6b) is eternal fellowship with God that

1. reaches beyond this life

2. involves intimacy

3. has a daily aspect

Psalms 27:4-6 expresses this same thought in a non-hyperbolic way (i.e., “all the days of my life,” cf. Psalms 23:6a).

Also note that in Psalms 5:4b “no evil abides/resides with YHWH,” but the faithful follower desires to live with God (cf. Psalms 61:4; Psalms 84:10).

Psalms 15:2-5 These verses describe (in balanced positive and negative attributes) the kind of person who will dwell with God (cf. Psalms 24:3-6).

1. walks in integrity (“blameless,” BDB 1071, cf. Psalms 18:23, Psalms 18:32; Psalms 119:80; Proverbs 28:18)

2. works righteousness

3. speaks truth (see Special Topic: Believe, Trust, Faith, and Faithfulness in the Old Testament) in his heart

4. does not slander

5. does not do evil to his neighbor

6. does not take up a reproach against his friend

7. despises reprobates

8. honors those who fear the Lord (i.e., covenant partners)

9. swears to truth (i.e., a vow, cf. Leviticus 27:0)

10. does not change (renege on a vow for self interest)

11. does not charge interest (cf. Exodus 22:25; Leviticus 25:36)

12. does not take a bribe against the innocent (cf. Exodus 23:8; Deuteronomy 16:19)

Notice that all of these characterizations describe how a godly person lives and treats others. To know God is to respect people. Faithful followers are meant to live and love so that the world may come to know and emulate the Creator God.

Psalms 15:4b “those who fear the Lord” This is a recurrent description of faithful followers (cf. Psalms 25:12, Psalms 25:14; Psalms 103:11, Psalms 103:13; Psalms 118:4). They are described in several ways.

1. what they do

a. praise, glorify, and stand in awe of YHWH, Psalms 22:23; Psalms 22:23

b. walk in His way, Psalms 128:1; Psalms 128:1

2. what He does for them

a. explains His covenant, Psalms 25:14

b. brings salvation near, Psalms 85:9

c. is their help and shield, Psalms 115:11

d. blesses them, Psalms 115:13; Psalms 128:1

e. fulfills their desires, Psalms 145:19; Psalms 145:19 (also “hears their cry and will save them”)

Psalms 15:5c This is the summary statement. Those who live in covenant with God and their brothers/sisters will never be shaken (BDB 556, KB 555, Niphal imperfect, cf. Psalms 17:5; Psalms 30:6; Proverbs 10:30; Proverbs 12:3). TEV translates it as “will always be secure.” Isaiah 33:15 seems to parallel the glorification of those who can approach and dwell with YHWH. If so, then Isaiah 33:16 is parallel to Psalms 15:5c.

The purpose of salvation is not just individual-focused but societal! A love for God should issue in love for each other! We must not separate justification from justice! The Fall of Genesis 3:0 affected all mankind (cf. Psalms 14:1-3). The image of God (cf. Genesis 1:26-27) in mankind was damaged. Mankind has turned inward. Selfishness and independence now characterize his/her thoughts and actions. A new encounter with God changes this focus (cf. Jeremiah 31:31-34; Ezekiel 36:25-27). The new person again has a sense of dependance. He/she lives for God/for others.

“never” See Special Topic: Forever.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. Describe the person who can approach YHWH in the temple.

2. How is “lifestyle faith” related to saving faith?

3. List the five positive and negative characteristics of a faithful follower.

4. Define “usury.”

5. Does this Psalm imply a righteous person will never suffer?

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Bibliographical Information
Utley. Dr. Robert. "Commentary on Psalms 15". "Utley's You Can Understand the Bible". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ubc/psalms-15.html. 2021.