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Bible Commentaries

Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible

Psalms 15


The scope of this short but excellent psalm is to show us the way to heaven, and to convince us that, if we would be happy, we must be holy and honest. Christ, who is himself the way, and in whom we must walk as our way, has also shown us the same way that is here prescribed, Matthew 19:17. "If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments." In this psalm, I. By the question (Psalms 15:1) we are directed and excited to enquire for the way. II. By the answer to that question, in the rest of the psalm, we are directed to walk in that way, Psalms 15:2-5. III. By the assurance given in the close of the psalm of the safety and happiness of those who answer these characters we are encouraged to walk in that way, Psalms 15:5.

Verses 1-5

The Citizen of Zion.

4. He is one that values men by their virtue and piety, and not by the figure they make in the world, Psalms 14:5; Psalms 14:5. (1.) He thinks the better of no man's wickedness for his pomp and grandeur: In his eyes a vile person is contemned. Wicked people are vile people, worthless and good for nothing (so the word signifies), as dross, as chaff, and as salt that has lost its savour. They are vile in their choices (Jeremiah 2:13), in their practices, Isaiah 32:6. For this wise and good men contemn them, not denying them civil honour and respect as men, as men in authority and power perhaps (1 Peter 2:17; Romans 13:7), but, in their judgment of them, agreeing with the word of God. They are so far from envying them that they pity them, despising their gains ( Isaiah 33:15), as turning to no account, their dainties (Psalms 141:4), their pleasures (Hebrews 11:24; Hebrews 11:25) as sapless and insipid. They despise their society (Psalms 119:115; 2 Kings 3:14); they despise their taunts and threats, and are not moved by them, nor disturbed at them; they despise the feeble efforts of their impotent malice (Psalms 2:1; Psalms 2:4), and will shortly triumph in their fall, Psalms 52:6, 7. God despises them, and they are of his mind. (2.) He thinks the worse of no man's piety for his poverty and meanness, but he knows those that fear the Lord. He reckons that serious piety, wherever it is found, puts an honour upon a man, and makes his face to shine, more than wealth, or wit, or a great name among men, does or can. He honours such, esteems them very highly in love, desires their friendship and conversation and an interest in their prayers, is glad of an opportunity to show them respect or do them a good office, pleads their cause and speaks of them with veneration, rejoices when they prosper, grieves when they are removed, and their memory, when they are gone, is precious with him. By this we may judge of ourselves in some measure. What rules do we go by in judging of others?

5. He is one that always prefers a good conscience before any secular interest or advantage whatsoever; for, if he has promised upon oath to do any thing, though afterwards it appear much to his damage and prejudice in his worldly estate, yet he adheres to it and changes not,Psalms 14:4; Psalms 14:4. See how weak-sighted and short-sighted even wise and good men may be; they may swear to their own hurt, which they were not aware of when they took the oath. But see how strong the obligation of an oath is, that a man must rather suffer loss to himself and his family than wrong his neighbour by breaking his oath. An oath is a sacred thing, which we must not think to play fast and loose with.

6. He is one that will not increase his estate by any unjust practices, Psalms 14:5; Psalms 14:5. (1.) Not by extortion: He putteth not out his money to usury, that he may live at ease upon the labours of others, while he is in a capacity for improving it by his own industry. Not that it is any breach of the law of justice or charity for the lender to share in the profit which the borrower makes of his money, any more than for the owner of the land to demand rent from the occupant, money being, by art and labour, as improvable as land. But a citizen of Zion will freely lend to the poor, according to his ability, and not be rigorous and severe in recovering his right from those that are reduced by Providence. (2.) Not by bribery: He will not take a reward against the innocent; if he be any way employed in the administration of public justice, he will not, for any gain, or hope of it, to himself, do any thing to the prejudice of a righteous cause.

III. The psalm concludes with a ratification of this character of the citizen of Zion. He is like Zion-hill itself, which cannot be moved, but abides for ever, Psalms 125:1. Every true living member of the church, like the church itself, is built upon a rock, which the gates of hell cannot prevail against: He that doeth these things shall never be moved; shall not be moved for ever, so the word is. The grace of God shall always be sufficient for him, to preserve him safe and blameless to the heavenly kingdom. Temptations shall not overcome him, troubles shall not overwhelm him, nothing shall rob him of his present peace nor his future bliss.

In singing this psalm we must teach and admonish ourselves, and one another, to answer the characters here given of the citizen of Zion, that we may never be moved from God's tabernacle on earth, and may arrive, at last, at that holy hill where we shall be for ever out of the reach of temptation and danger.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on Psalms 15". "Henry's Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". 1706.