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Oh, that Israel’s deliverance would come from Zion!
When the Lord restores the fortunes of His people,
Jacob will rejoice; Israel will be glad.
Lord, who can dwell in Your tent?
Who can live on Your holy mountain?
The one who lives honestly, practices righteousness,
and acknowledges the truth in his heart —
who does not slander with his tongue,
who does not harm his friend
or discredit his neighbor,
who despises the one rejected by the Lord
but honors those who fear the Lord,
who keeps his word whatever the cost,
who does not lend his money at interest
or take a bribe against the innocent —
the one who does these things will never be moved. Psalm 15

“David here outlines the virtues that render a person worthy of dwelling in Hashem’s “tent” and residing in His “sacred mountain.”  According to the Radak, David refers here to the resting place of the soul in the afterlife; it is thus here where we are told how a person earns his eternal share in the world to come.  The Radak draws proof to this reading from the chapter’s final clause, where David exclaims, “he who does these shall not falter, forever.”  The term “forever” implies that David refers here to eternal peace, which would suggest that he speaks of the soul’s reward in the afterlife.

“In listing these virtues, David focuses first on proper interpersonal conduct: honesty and integrity (verse 2), and refraining from crimes such as gossip, causing others harm, and nepotistic protection of unworthy relatives (verse 3).  In verse 4, he imposes an important qualification on the virtues of loving kindness and concern for others: “Nivzeh Be’einav Nim’as,” which Rashi translates to mean, “The shameful one is despicable in his eyes.”  Although this prototype acts with love and sensitivity, he is at the same time prepared to confront evil and its advocates, rather than extend to them the same kindness and compassion he shows generally.  He respects those who deserve respect, while condemning behavior that warrants condemnation.

“The Ibn Ezra and Radak explain this verse differently, as meaning that the person sees himself as “shameful” and “despicable.”  Despite his many fine qualities, he recognizes how much more he has to grow and accomplish in order to achieve perfection.  Rather than falling into the trap of stifling complacency, he constantly strives to improve and to accomplish more.

“The message conveyed by this Psalm is thus a dual one.  On the one hand, David promises eternal life to everyone who lives in accordance with the basic values of honesty and Godliness; the world to come is not reserved for only the great Tzadikim who have reached the highest levels of spiritual devotion.  At the same time, however, to earn eternal life one must spend his life in the pursuit of perfection, working each day to grow and become better than he is.  This Psalm does not demand that everybody be perfect, but it does not demand that everybody work towards and strive for spiritual perfection.” —Daily Tehlllim Psalm 15

“Here is a very serious question concerning the character of a citizen of Zion. It is the happiness of glorified saints, that they dwell in the holy hill; they are at home there, they shall be for ever there. It concerns us to make it sure to ourselves that we have a place among them. A very plain and particular answer is here given. Those who desire to know their duty, will find the Scripture a very faithful director, and conscience a faithful monitor. A citizen of Zion is sincere in his religion. He is really what he professes to be, and endeavors to stand complete in all the will of God. He is just both to God and man; and, in speaking to both, speaks the truth in his heart. He scorns and abhors wrong and fraud; he cannot reckon that a good bargain, nor a saving one, which is made with a lie; and knows that he who wrongs his neighbor will prove, in the end, to have most injured himself. He is very careful to do hurt to no man. He speaks evil of no man, makes not others ‘faults the matter of his common talk; he makes the best of every body, and the worst of nobody. If an ill- natured story be told him, he will disprove it if he can; if not, it goes no further. He values men by their virtue and piety. Wicked people are vile people, worthless, and good for nothing; so the word signifies. He thinks the worse of no man’s piety for his poverty and mean condition. He reckons that serious piety puts honor upon a man, more than wealth, or a great name. He honors such, desires their conversation and an interest in their prayers, is glad to show them respect, or do them a kindness. By this we may judge of ourselves in some measure. Even wise and good men may swear to their own hurt:but see how strong the obligation is, a man must rather suffer loss to himself and his family, than wrong his neighbor. He will not increase his estate by extortion, or by bribery. He will not, for any gain, or hope of it to himself, do any thing to hurt a righteous cause. Every true living member of the church, like the church itself, is built upon a Rock. He that doeth these things shall not be moved for ever. The grace of God shall always be sufficient for him. The union of these tempers and this conduct, can only spring from repentance for sin, faith in the Savior, and love to him. In these respects let us examine and prove our own selves.” —Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary

Two perspectives on a psalm of King David. One from a Jewish Commentator; the other from a Christian commentator. Both perspectives point to the obligations to live in the balance between justice and kindness. Rev. Henry wrote: “The union of these tempers and this conduct, can only spring from repentance for sin, faith in the Savior, and love to him. In these respects let us examine and prove our own selves.” From Tehillim we learn that “. . . to earn eternal life one must spend his life in the pursuit of perfection, working each day to grow and become better than he is.  This Psalm does not demand that everybody be perfect, but it does not demand that everybody work towards and strive for spiritual perfection.”

The only difference I find between the Jewish and Christian way of living is those who know Y’shuaJesus as Messiah have accepted they work toward perfection so that they may live eternally in the House of the LORD, yet understand it  is never earned, but granted by the one Who gave His life, that died, rose, and lives so we may live today without regret and live forever with Him in the House of the LORD.

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