Psalms 15:3 MEANING

Psalm 15:3
(3) He that backbiteth not.--Literally, he has not footed it on his tongue. Very expressive of those who go about from house to house carrying tittle- tattle. (Comp. 1 Timothy 5:13.)

Reproach.--The Hebrew word has a striking derivation. Properly, the stripping of the trees of autumn fruit; so, stripping honour and reputation from a person. Two different words are in the Hebrew for "neighbour." Translate, "Who does no ill to his friend, nor carries a reproach against his neighbour." The marginal receiveth, or endureth, is quite against the context.

Verse 3. - He that backbiteth not with his tongue. Among the negative virtues the first place is given to the observance of the ninth commandment, probably because to err in this respect is so very common a fault (see Jeremiah 6:28; Jeremiah 9:4; James 3:5-8). Nor doeth evil to his neighbour; rather, to his friend, or his companion - a different word from that used at the end of the verse, and implying greater intimacy. There is special wickedness in injuring one with whom we are intimate. Nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour. The good man does not, even when it is true, spread an ill report concerning his neighbour. He prefers to keep silence, and let the report die out (see Exodus 33:1).

15:1-5 The way to heaven, if we would be happy, we must be holy. We are encouraged to walk in that way. - 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 endeavours 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 neighbour 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 honour upon a man, more than wealth, or a great name. He honours 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 neighbour. 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 Saviour, and love to him. In these respects let us examine and prove our own selves.He that backbiteth not with his tongue,.... Is not a slanderer, a defamer, a tale bearer; a backbiter is one who privately, secretly, behind a man's back speaks evil of him, devours and destroys his credit and reputation: the word here used comes from which signifies the "foot", and denotes such a person who goes about from house to house, speaking things he should not, 1 Timothy 5:13; and a word from this root signifies spies; and the phrase here may point at such persons who creep into houses, pry into the secrets of families, and divulge them, and oftentimes represent them in a false light. Such are ranked amongst the worst of men, and are very unfit to be in the society of the saints, or in a church of Christ; see Romans 1:30, 2 Corinthians 12:20;

nor doeth evil to his neighbour: to any man whatever, good or bad, friend or foe, whether in a natural, civil, or spiritual relation, either by words or deeds, to his person, property, or good name;

nor taketh up, a reproach against his neighbour; does not raise any scandalous report on him himself, nor will he bear to hear one from another, much less will he spread one; nor will he suffer one to lie upon his neighbour, but will do all he can to vindicate him, and clear his character.

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