A Psalm of David.
1 LORD, who? may abide in Your tabernacle?
Who? may dwell in Your holy hill?
The prescription of life before God requires instruction. This is a song of hope and instruction. It takes the form of positive teaching and negative teaching, those things we are to do, and those we are not to do. It may have been part of a temple or tabernacle liturgy. Words used to encourage those bringing offerings, those living normal lives, dealing with daily problems. It is divided into three parts. The question, Who and the answer which follows in four verses.
The word abide ( יָג֣וּר), is used of an alien, one who inhabits a location temporarily, who is a stranger to the location. This is the state of all men before God, who only entered the Holy of Holies with blood, and but for a moment were before the mercy seat of God. The location of the Tabernacle and the Holy Hill were Mount Zion, where David upon conquering the Jebusites built the City of David and brought the Tabernacle and the Ark of the Covenant to that place. The Tabernacle like the Temple after it were also temporary locations.
Following a series of Laments this song points to the 14 before it. For Psalm 1 teaches us the LORD knows the ways of the righteous and perishing of the ungodly. Those who love His law, who delight in Him. Zion is the most Holy place, the place of the Saviour Psalm 2, the place from which the Savior comes Psalm 14.
In this Psalm, we are asked to reflect upon the character of those who can enter in to the presence of God, to seek His mercy, justice and righteousness. In all this the covenant relationship of the individual is assumed, and so the adoption of the individual who is able to come.
2 He who walks uprightly,
And works righteousness,
And speaks the truth in his heart;3 He who does not backbite with his tongue,
Nor does evil to his neighbor,
Nor does he take up a reproach against his friend;
We see in verses 2 and 3 the Decalogue summarized. To walk uprightly is to honor God, to respect His name, and keep the law. Those things which we actively do positively. We love God with all our heart and mind and soul and strength. Deut. 6:5; 10:12; 30:6; Matt 22:37-40. When we honor God we demonstrate uprightness of heart, our actions are righteous in Christ, and we speak the truth to one another in love, even when it is uncomfortable.
Moreover, we do not slander, lie, or esteem our words as those to be thrown out easily to be tread under foot as though they are of no worth. We do no evil toward our neighbor but seek what is good for our neighbors Phil 2:3-5, and so keep the Golden Rule Matthew 7:12, even as Christ taught us.
We know from the epistle of James (Chapter 3), the sins of our minds lust and mouth are among the most common to all people, and our thoughts sometimes leave our mouth before we have the thought to not say them. While evil against our neighbor can be more than words, the idea is to keep our hearts and minds focused on what is good, truth, hope, love, compassion. Those things which are produced by the Holy Spirit, the Fruit of the Spirit for against such there is no Law Gal 5:22-23.
4 In whose eyes a vile person is despised,
But he honors those who fear the LORD;
He who swears to his own hurt and does not change;
5 He who does not put out his money at usury,
Nor does he take a bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things shall never be moved.
As we come to v4, we see and continued development in answer to the question WHO? The text presents two possible translations. First, “The righteous is rejected and despised in his own eyes”, this would correspond with placing one’s self beneath the needs of others. But the contrast is very clear from the second part of V4, the righteous honors those who fear YHWH. So we must answer the question of how the righteous can despise or find contemptible those who are rejected. Our answer comes from the words for vile and despised. A proper understanding of the contrast causes us to see those who are rejected by God. The righteous fears YHWH, swears to his own hurt and does not change, or turn from doing what is right, true, in line with his practice of life, works of righteousness, and a pure heart before God. Such despised and rejected men as those who seek only ungodly gain and the cost of truth, trodden under foot goodness and truth. Such as those who mistreat the poor. The conclusion is for those who reject all evil they shall never be moved.