If you read Psalm 15 carefully, you will discover the entire song all hangs upon the first verse. Verse 1 is crucial in that it asks a probing question. That’s today’s devotional. David’s answer forms the rest of the psalm. He then arrives at a wonderful promise. These we’ll look at over the next couple of days.
David’s psalm opens with a probing question, put in the form of a metaphor.
O LORD, who may abide in Your tent?
Who may dwell on Your holy hill?
The song is a prayer directed to God, whose name appears in Hebrew as the four consonant letters YHWH. Using the Lord’s sacred name, David asks two questions that appear different, but they actually seek a single answer. Hebrew poetry often uses a grammatical device called “synonymous parallelism,” in which two lines express the same thought using different words or phrases. Literally, they read: “YHWH, who shall dwell in your tent? Who shall settle down on your holy mountain?”
The references to “tent” and “holy mountain” are both symbols of God’s presence—descriptive expressions of intimate fellowship. At the time, the temple had not yet been built; the Israelites worshiped God in the tabernacle, a large tent structure. The ark of the covenant was kept in the center of the tabernacle, in the Most Holy Place, and that’s where God’s shekinah glory could be found. The otherworldly light of the shekinah represented God’s special presence among the Israelites, establishing them as a nation, protecting them from harm, and blessing their faithfulness.
The expression “Your holy hill (mountain)” recalls the event in the book of Exodus when Moses met God on Mount Sinai to receive His Law (Exodus 24:12–18). On that occasion, a fiery, glowing cloud covered the summit. The expression also refers to the summit of Jerusalem, the future home of the temple, where God’s presence would abide and where all people were invited to worship Him.
David asked, “What kind of an individual does it take to maintain and enjoy intimate fellowship with You, Lord?”
From Living the Psalms: Encouragement for the Daily Grind by Charles R. Swindoll, copyright © 2012. Reprinted by permission of Worthy Inspired, an imprint of Hachette Book Group, Inc.