What does Psalm 15:1 mean?
ESV: A Psalm of David. O LORD, who shall sojourn in your tent? Who shall dwell on your holy hill?
NIV: A psalm of David. LORD, who may dwell in your sacred tent? Who may live on your holy mountain?
NASB: Lord, who may reside in Your tent? Who may settle on Your holy hill?
CSB: Lord, who can dwell in your tent? Who can live on your holy mountain?
NLT: Who may worship in your sanctuary, Lord? Who may enter your presence on your holy hill?
KJV: {A Psalm of David.} LORD, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill?
NKJV: {A Psalm of David.} Lord, who may abide in Your tabernacle? Who may dwell in Your holy hill?
Verse Commentary:
David questions how to describe a person qualified to be the Lord's guest in His tabernacle. This is not meant as a shallow thought; David seems to recognize that everyone has fallen short of God's glory (Psalm 51:1–2; 143:2; Romans 3:23). The Lord cannot coexist in His full presence with sin, so how can He welcome anyone to live in His presence?

David's use of the term "sojourn" here is part of his perspective. The Hebrew root word is guwr, which most literally means to live somewhere as a stranger or foreigner. Naturally, any imperfect person would be out of place in God's presence. This term is sometimes used for temporary travel, but it is not necessarily something short-lived. David's desire is for something permanent (Psalm 5:4–8; 15:5).

Today, a person might ask, "Who will live in heaven with the Lord?" In the New Testament a young lawyer pondered this question (Matthew 19:16–23). A Pharisee, Nicodemus, also sought an answer from Jesus (John 3:1–4). Jesus provides the answer in John 3:36 and John 14:1–3. John 3:36 assures us that whoever believes in Jesus, God's Son, has eternal life. In John 14:1–3 Jesus promises His disciples—and all believers—that He will come again and take them to His Father's house. Then Jesus and believers will be together forever.

God's saving grace is the means for us to answer. By grace He saves sinners (Ephesians 2:8–9) and reconciles them to Himself (2 Corinthians 5:17–21). David refers to the Lord's "tent," or "tabernacle," as situated on His holy hill, which is Zion, or Jerusalem. Some believe this psalm was written when David brought the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem with great joy (2 Samuel 6:12–15).
Verse Context:
Psalm 15:1 asks a question many have pondered through the ages. David poses the riddle of what kind of person is fit to be in the presence of God. This sets up a series of challenging requirements, which form the other verses of this psalm.
Chapter Summary:
David raises the question of what it looks like to live worthy of the presence of God, even knowing such a thing is not entirely possible in this life (Psalm 51:1–2; 143:2; Romans 3:23). Such a person develops a good reputation as they live and speak truthfully. The righteous person serves God obediently, refrains from slander, and does not harm his neighbor in any way. He recognizes the difference between those who ignore God and those who honor Him. A righteous person is true to his word even when such integrity hurts. He does not take advantage of those who need to borrow money, nor accept bribes. The truly righteous person is secure forever, and nothing can shake him from his relationship with the Lord.
Chapter Context:
The psalms immediately preceding this describe the wicked who deny God's existence and assault the poor. Here, David describes the lifestyle of a righteous person. David makes these comments knowing no human being is without flaws (Psalm 51:1–2; 143:2). Ideally, however, a believer honors the Lord and relates righteously to his neighbor. David may have written this psalm after bringing the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem.
Book Summary:
The book of Psalms is composed of individual songs, hymns, or poems, each of which is a ''Psalm'' in and of itself. These works contain a wide variety of themes. Some Psalms focus on praising and worshipping God. Others cry out in anguish over the pain of life. Still other Psalms look forward to the coming of the Messiah. While some Psalms are related, each has its own historical and biblical context.
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