(Psalms 15:3) “He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour.”
In the previous devotion (Psalms 15:1-2), David asked God two questions. Both questions begin with, “who shall...” Who shall what? and where shall they? The answers to what and where are found in the key words in the first question: “abide” and “tabernacle”; and in David’s second question: “dwell” and “holy hill.”
The Hebrew word for “abide” carries the idea of one turning aside to have lodging; to assemble in one place. The Hebrew word for “dwell” carries the idea of staying permanently in the lodging; to continue, or to remain. On the surface these two Hebrew words can be synonyms of each other. However, the real difference lies in that the word translated “abide” is the initial beginning; and the word translated “dwell” has more to do with continuing or remaining in the place.
And the Where
The Hebrew word for the English translation of “tabernacle” carries with it a tent or a covering. Whereas the Hebrew word for the English translation of “holy (hill)” carries with it a sacred place; a hallowed place; a set-apart place; a holy place; a consecrated place; a dedicated place. The word translated “hill” is a mountain or a range of hills. (See the previous devotion, Who Shall Abide?)
However, David – writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit – looked past the Tabernacle in the Wilderness, to the Church of Jesus Christ in the New Testament. The Church is the Spiritual Habitation of God on the earth (Eph. 2:20-22; 3:21). The Church is called the Body of Christ; Christ is the Head, and the believers in Christ are the body of Christ (Rom. 12:5; 1 Cor. 12:12, 27; Eph. 2:6; 5:23; Col. 1:24). In Christ are the fulness of Grace and Truth.
Therefore, David asked God, “…who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill?” Or: who is allowed to come into the Church (Where Christ is The Head of the Body; and Where Christ Dwells on Earth)? And who will dwell there permanently? In the previous devotion, these questions were answered (Psalm 15:2); only…
I. Those That Love God
1). “He that walketh uprightly, and
2). “Worketh righteousness, and
3). “Speaketh the truth in his heart.”
In our current devotion, David continues to answer his request to God, “LORD, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill?” David adds: not only those that love God; but, secondly, those that love their neighbor:
II. Those That Love Their Neighbor – (Brethren)
(1). Not a Slanderer: “He that backbiteth not with his tongue”
A “backbiter” is a tale bearer; or one who slanders another. The definition of “slander” is, “a false report maliciously uttered and tending to injure the reputation of a person.” The backbiter slanders one who is absent from the hearers of slander. The backbiter goes behind the back of his neighbor to hurt his neighbor’s reputation. The backbiter goes from house to house to do harm to his neighbor with his tongue (1 Tim. 5:13). Slander is not a characteristic of a child of God. Slander’s root is lodged in hate, and even in jealously. The desire to ruin another’s reputation using a lie comes from the “flesh” or the “old man,” which dwells in all men.
The Bible states in (Jn. 8:44) that the father of all lies is the devil. Therefore, lies are not of God; nor from God – but, from sin, and rebellion to God’s Righteousness. David said, the slanderer will not abide or dwell in God’s house.
(2). Not a Schemer: “…nor doeth evil to his neighbour,”
A schemer is one who devises a plan of action. The word “schemer” leans itself to the negative side. Therefore, the schemer in (v-3b), speaks of having evil schemes, or evil plans, toward his neighbor. This means that the schemer’s actions follow unrighteousness rather than righteousness toward his neighbor. This evil toward his neighbor has two faces: (1) A face of mental torment or harm. One can torment mentally through lies, threats, mocking, an angry attitude and actions; and a multitude of ways that brings uncertainty and even fear in the mind of the neighbor. (2) A face of bodily torment or harm. That is, through bodily injure; property damage; etc. Here again, evil intentions and actions against your neighbor have their root in sin, and not love.
(3). Not A Scandal Carrier: “…nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbor.”
The scandal carrier is one that is active in taking up a reproach. He is looking for such a reproach on his neighbor. That is, if he will not take up a reproach on his neighbor – then, he will not receive a lie on his neighbor; nor will he suffer others to lie on his neighbor; nor will he bring about any lie on his neighbor himself. But, rather the contrary, he will try to clear his neighbor of any reproach.
Jesus made it very plain concerning in what way those who dwell in His House are to be toward the brethren:
- (John 14:15) “If ye love me, keep my commandments.”
- (John 13:34-35)
- (Mt. 22:37-40)
- (1 John 3, 4, 5)