Who Can Live On Zion?
By Lee Jones
Five verses. David takes only five verses in this psalm to answer a key question. After spending a vast majority of the previous psalms calling out the wicked, he now gets around to asking, “O LORD, who may abide in Your tent? Who may dwell on Your holy hill? The location is no mere hill, it is as if David was asking who could live in YHWH’s own tabernacle, where the Holy of Holies was located and only the priest could enter once a year on the Day of Atonement. Who truly could make that place his home?
The answer is Christ alone, and this psalm gives us a crystal clear picture of Jesus before He had come in the flesh. In describing Christ here, David also shows the benefits of being clothed in Christ’s imputed righteousness, a gift given to every believer. I hope to walk through this psalm phrase by phrase here and point back to Jesus clearly with every description David gives us.
The resident on God’s holy hill walks with integrity, tamim in Hebrew, meaning completeness or wholeness. He is not divided, Christ truly is God and truly is man without contradiction either in His nature or teaching.
Relatedly, Christ worked righteousness. Not only did He not sin when faces with temptation, He actively obeyed the will of His Father perfectly, something none of us could ever achieve. He credited that righteousness to us who were called by his name (I Cor. 1:30, II Cor. 5:21). He spoke truth in His heart, not lying in thought, led, or deed like we do.
Neither did Jesus slander. When he rebuked, he did it truthfully and in right measure. He did not return mocking for mocking, and He received a lot of that. Jesus did no evil to His neighbor, but rather forgave repentant sinners, healed the sick, exorcised the possessed, even when they were foreigners.
Jesus didn’t scorn or reproach His friends. Even while Judas, His false friend, betrayed Him with a kiss. He only told him to do what he must. He graciously restored Peter after his denials.
Yet, it was known that Jesus does not abide the joyful sinners. He launched many a diatribe at the self-righteous Pharisees and spoke many rebuking words to them, never giving them an inch precisely because He loved His Father and was zealous to accomplish His mission.
We see this most clearly in verse 4b, “He swears to his own hurt and does not change.” Jesus went to the cross, despising the shame, and instead heaped shame on the evil spiritual authorities and powers by giving his life (Hebrews 12:2, Col. 2:15). He did not change, and I praise God He didn’t. There is no shadow of turning with Him, and on Him my salvation depends.
He never made His gifts a loan, given out at interest. He gives freely to the undeserving, and takes no bribes because the Thrice Holy God can’t be bought. Jesus is firm in His convictions. He will never leave or forsake His covenant people (Neh. 9:31) so we can count on Him to carry us through every difficulty.
Jesus is the beginning, middle, and end of this psalm. We are covered in His righteousness, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and able to be more and more confirmed to His image, which this psalm does a splendid job painting for us, even if it’s brief. Be encouraged, be provoked to deeper faith in Christ. He ascended to the Holy Hill, the right hand of the Father on high, and He is preparing a place for every one of His covenant children there too. Get excited because it’s coming soon.
Glory to God alone.