Psalm 15 opens by David asking Yahweh who it would be who would get to live with Him forever. He asks with three (not two) locations in mind:
- Who shall dwell (guwr) in Your tabernacle?
- Who shall dwell (shakan) on Your holy hill?
Firstly, David was obviously referring to the great tent of meeting (the tabernacle) that Moses constructed after leading the Hebrews out of Egypt and in which the sacrificial system, under the Levitical priesthood, was inaugurated.
Though David wasn’t a priest himself, he revered the holy role of the Levites with specific regard to worship and the presence of God and, crucially, of the characteristics of those people who would be allowed to dwell with him. (See Psalm 19:14).
Secondly, when David asks a second time, “who shall (shakan) on your holy hill?”, he is not only using the Hebraic device of repetition (asking the question more than once); this second word for ‘dwell’ carries with it, by stark contrast to the nomadic tabernacle, the profound meaning (largely lost on us today) of permanence and citizenship. Hence came the temple, (1 Kings 6).
Thirdly, the tabernacle is obviously replaced by the more permanent/fixed temple but even this renovation was still dealing in types and shadows.
Rather, as David prayed, he was prophetically meditating on the eternal dwelling/abiding that his heart craved (see Psalm 63:1,3) – the New Jerusalem – and that “permanent dwelling” was not going to be the experience of everyone who professed faithfulness to Yahweh. (see Matthew 7:21-23).
“LORD, who shall dwell on your holy hill?”
The answer is summarised by, “he who thinks and speaks the truth in this heart” (Psalm 15 v2[b]; Psalm 19:4; Psalm 24:4).
When we look at the professing “church” today – daring to take the Name Christ – who is it that will dwell on His holy hill?
cf. 1 Corinthians 11:18-19