St Robert Bellarmine’s Commentary on Psalm 15
Posted by Dim Bulb on September 17, 2016
WHAT KIND OF PEOPLE SHALL DWELL IN THE HEAVENLY SION
Psa 15:1 A psalm for David. Lord, who shall dwell in thy tabernacle? or who shall rest in thy holy hill?
The prophet, in alluding to Mount Sion and the tabernacle of God thereon, means the “heavenly Jerusalem,” and the tabernacle not made by human hands; for the prophets foretold the kingdom of heaven through such figures: St. Paul makes frequent mention of the “celestial tabernacle,” Hebrew 8 and 9; and in chap. 12, Mount Sion is called “The city of the living God;” and St. John, in the Apocalypse, makes mention of “the celestial Sion;” and, in chap. 21, he says, “Behold the tabernacle of God with man, and he will dwell with them.” The prophet then asks, “Who is to dwell?” That means, to have a fixed, certain residence, on the top of that lofty mount, from which, by reason of its out topping all others, there is no further ascent; for here on earth there can be no permanent residence nor real rest.
Psa 15:2 He that walketh without blemish, and worketh justice:
A most summary and comprehensive answer; as if he said, “Who declineth from evil and doeth good?” who does not offend God by the commission of a sin, or the omission of a duty? He who lives without committing a mortal sin “walketh without blemish;” and he who discharges all his obligations, not through fear of punishment, but from a sense of duty, is one “that worketh justice.”
Psa 15:3 He that speaketh truth in his heart, who hath not used deceit in his tongue: Nor hath done evil to his neighbour: nor taken up a reproach against his neighbours.
Coming now to particulars, he says, “The man to dwell in the house of the Lord” is he who doeth no evil in heart, mouth or action, “Who speaketh truth in his heart.” For all who set more value than they ought on the things of this world, do not speak truth in their heart; and whoever consent to sin speak not truth in their heart, because they consider a matter will profit them, which rather injures. Thus, all the sins of the heart may be reduced to false judgment as their main root. Speaking of sins by the mouth, he says, “Who hath not used deceit in his tongue;” for detractions and flattery, and such sins, may be aptly styled “deceits.” Such man not only did no evil himself, but did all in his way to prevent it in others, and thus committed no sin in his actions, “nor taken up a reproach against his neighbor.” He has not listened to vituperation, detraction, stories or calumnies against his neighbor; and, instead of giving ear to the ill disposed, has rather despised them; while, on the contrary, he has glorified, honored, and helped the good who fear God. Great praise is due to him who hates sin, not only in himself, but in others.
Psa 15:4 In his sight the malignant is brought to nothing: but he glorifieth them that fear the Lord. He that sweareth to his neighbour, and deceiveth not;
All this is explained above.
Psa 15:5 He that hath not put out his money to usury, nor taken bribes against the innocent: He that doth these things, shall not be moved for ever.
Having explained the virtues of a good man, in general, he now touches on one vice in particular, from which any one aspiring to be heir to the kingdom of heaven should be specially exempt, namely, avarice. His reason for touching on this vice in particular, is either because, according to Tim 1:6, “It is the root of all evils,” or because this vice always was and is still, peculiar to the Jews. Now, avarice turns up in contracts otherwise lawful, or in unlawful contracts, or in bribes. The first class come under “He that sweareth to his neighbor, and deceiveth not.” The second class are designated by the expression, “He that hath not put out his money to usury.” The third class, the worst of all, are they “Who take bribes against the innocent.” “He that doeth those things shall not be moved forever.” The question put in the first verse is here answered. He says, that they who live according to what was just laid down will have an everlasting habitation in the kingdom of heaven. “He that doeth,” etc., will securely dwell in God’s tabernacle, will rest in his holy mountain, without the slightest fear of ever being disturbed therein.