Psalm 15

Notes (NET Translation)

A psalm of David.

1 Lord, who may be a guest in your home? Who may live on your holy hill?

This verse asks what kind of person can remain in God’s presence. The Hebrew word ohel (“home”) is the same word used for the tabernacle first constructed in the days of Moses. The holy hill may be the hill where the tabernacle or temple stood.

2 Whoever lives a blameless life, does what is right, and speaks honestly.

The Hebrew word tamiym (“blameless”) means complete, whole, or sound. Speaking honestly does not merely mean telling the truth, but being reliable and trustworthy.1

3 He does not slander, or do harm to others, or insult his neighbor.

4 He despises a reprobate, but honors the Lord’s loyal followers. He makes firm commitments and does not renege on his promise.

The reprobate is a person who is hardened in the ways of evil and mischief.2

5 He does not charge interest when he lends his money. He does not take bribes to testify against the innocent. The one who lives like this will never be upended.

The Israelites were not to take advantage of their fellow Israelites who had fallen on hard times by charging them interest (Ex. 22:25-27; Lev. 25:35-36; Deut. 23:19). Bribery was prohibited (Ex. 23:8; Deut. 16:19; Isa. 1:23; 5:23; Amos 5:11-15).

The promise does not merely concern itself with security or freedom from trouble, oppression and the like. Indeed, the righteous very often were “shaken” (cf. Ps 13:5) in a literal sense, to the rejoicing of their enemies. The promise pertains to a more fundamental stability, indicated in the opening verse: “Who may reside in your tent?” (v 1). Answer: the righteous person (vv 2–5b), and come what may, he would not be shaken from that residence in the divine presence. Thus the “answer” of Ps 15 sets a useful perspective for the many laments contained within the Psalter. From a human perspective, the psalmists were constantly shaken by their experience of human oppression and the vicissitudes of life, and so they issued their laments; but the only possibility of transforming lament into confidence or praise lay in the fact that there was an unshaken position transcending the vicissitudes of a shaken and uncertain life. That position was in the presence of God, whether in public worship or private devotion.3

Bibliography

Craigie, Peter C., and Marvin E. Tate. Psalms 1-50. Nashville: Nelson Reference & Electronic, 2004.

Goldingay, John. Psalms: Volume 1: Psalms 1-41. Kindle Edition. Baker Academic, 2006.

Kidner, Derek. Psalms 1-72: An Introduction and Commentary. Downers Grove, Ill.: Inter-Varsity Press, 2008.

VanGemeren, Willem. Psalms. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2008.


  1. Kidner 2008, p. 98 
  2. VanGemeren 2008, p. 184 
  3. Craigie 2004, p. 152 
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