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Bible Commentaries

Ironside's Notes on Selected Books

Psalms 15

Verses 1-5

And so, in the fifteenth Psalm the Psalmist says, “Lord, who shall abide in Thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in Thy holy hill?” And now note the answer, “He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart.” Oh, you say, I thought people were saved by grace. I did not know folk were saved by works. I thought the Word of God distinctly tells us that it is “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Titus 3:5). Well, you thought right, but he is not speaking of salvation here; he is speaking of more than salvation, of reward in that coming day. He is speaking of those who shall reign with Christ, and who are they? Those who by newness of life prove the reality of the regeneration which they profess. They say they have been born of God; they say they have been justified by faith; they say that not by works of their own but by the finished work of Christ they have been converted; they have been made the righteousness of God in Christ, but how will other people know that? Simply because we tell them? They may question what we say; they must see a changed life, and those who in that coming day will find their place with Christ are those who manifest the new nature. He is not speaking of salvation here but of its manifestation. Do not talk about being made the righteousness of God in Christ if you do not work righteousness. If you are justified by faith, then you have received a new and righteous nature and your life should be a righteous life. He that “worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart.” God says He desires “truth in the inward parts” (Psalms 51:6).

“Who shall abide in Thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in Thy holy hill?” “He that backbiteth not with his tongue.” What is it to backbite with your tongue? To speak people fair to the face and to say unkind things about people behind their backs. Do you know anybody that does that? If you have a looking glass at home, take a good look in it and see whether you can see any one in that glass that ever backbites with his tongue, and if you do, get down on your knees and tell the Lord that you are ashamed of yourself and that by His grace you will seek to have a kind word for others instead of saying something unkind. You will be surprised to see how much happier you will be and how many more friends you will make. It is all right to talk about people behind their back if you say the right thing. Let us be among those who never backbite with the tongue.

“Nor doeth evil to his neighbour, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour.” He neither does that which definitely harms his neighbor, nor does he pick up a story from someone else and spread it abroad. He is seeking to help instead of to hinder. “In whose eyes a vile person is contemned; but he honoureth them that fear the Lord.” Instead of standing with and endorsing the tactics of the vile person, he judges all that. In Proverbs 25:23 we read, “The north wind driveth away rain: so doth an angry countenance a backbiting tongue.” Somebody comes to you and says, “Did you hear about Brother So and So?”

“No!” you say.

“Oh, it is something dreadful.”

You say, “I do not wish to hear it!” and look as fierce as you can and you will drive him away. Stop that scandal instead of saying, “Oh, tell me about it!” and then going to the phone and spreading it. That is the way fellowship is broken. But if you will meet the backbiter with an angry countenance, instead of breaking fellowship you will maintain it.

And then notice: “He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not.” That is, if he settles it with God that he is going to do a certain thing, even though he finds out afterward that it does not seem to be to his benefit, he says, I am going on and do it anyway. If he has said, “Lord, I am going to give so and so to Thy work,” and then things get hard, and he thinks, “I guess I cannot give the Lord what I intended; I need that money for things for myself,” and so he spends the money on himself and has no more to spare. But if he says, “But I have opened my mouth to the Lord and cannot go back,” and he deals faithfully with God, he finds that they that honor God are honored of Him.

“He that putteth not out his money to usury.” It is perfectly right and proper in a business way to invest money and get interest for it. The parable of the talents makes that clear, “Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury” (Matthew 25:27). But if a brother or a sister is in need and you have the money to help and they come to you and you say, “Well, yes, I am willing to help. What security can you give?”

“I am sorry but I have none except the word of a Christian man or woman.”

“Well, how much interest will you pay?” That is asking usury.

That is the thing that God’s Word condemns. His people of old were not allowed to take interest from money loaned to their brethren, and the “Righteousness of the law [is] fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Romans 8:4). These are some very practical things, and a lot of us would get a great deal more blessing if we lived them out.

“Nor taketh reward against the innocent,” that is, would not profit through the stumbling of another. “He that doeth these things shall never be moved.” In other words, this Psalm sets before us the things that should characterize the child of God as he is passing through this world waiting for the coming of the righteous King, and when the King comes, he will stand before Him with perfect confidence to receive His approbation and to reign with Him in that day.

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Bibliographical Information
Ironside, H. A. "Commentary on Psalms 15". Ironside's Notes on Selected Books. 1914.