This is the portrait of a perfect character after the ideal of Israel. We naturally compare with it, on the one hand, the heathen types of perfection as we see them in the ethical philosophy of Greece and Rome, and, on the other, the Christian standard as we see it in the New Testament and in modern literature, and the result is to leave us in wonder and admiration before this figure of stainless honour drawn by an ancient Jewish poet. “Christian chivalry,” it has been said. “has not drawn a brighter.” In heart and tongue, in deed and word, as a member of society and as an individual, the character of Psalms 15 is without reproach.
The psalm makes no pretence to art either in form or style.
Speaketh the truth in his heart—i.e., both thinks and speaks the truth.
“This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.”
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.
To his own hurt.—Literally, to do evil, i.e., to him-self (see Leviticus 5:4). The LXX., by transposing the letters, read, “to his neighbour;” and the English Prayer Book version has apparently combined the two thoughts: “Who sweareth to his neighbour, and dis-appointeth him not, even though it were to his own hindrance.”
“His words are bonds, his oaths are oracles,
His love sincere, his thoughts immaculate;
His tears pure messengers sent from his heart,
His heart is far from fraud as heaven from earth.”
SHAKSPEARE: Two Gentlemen of Verona.