Psalm 15:5
He that puts not out his money to usury, nor takes reward against the innocent. He that does these things shall never be moved.
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(5) Usury was not forbidden in the legitimate commercial dealings with foreigners (Deuteronomy 23:20); and the laws against it seem to have had exclusive reference to dealings among Israelites themselves, and were evidently enacted more with a view to the protection of the poor than because the idea of usury in itself was considered wrong (Exodus 22:25; Lew 25:36). So here the context plainly seems to limit the sin of usury to unjust application of the principle, being connected with bribery. Against “biting” usury (the Hebrew word primarily means “bite”) all governments find it necessary to legislate, as we see in the case of the money-lenders of our own time; but with the employment of capital put out on interest for legitimate purposes of trade, neither Hebrew feeling generally, as the whole career of the race shows, nor the higher minds among them, as we see by our Lord’s parable of the talents, were averse. The best illustrations of invectives of prophets and psalmists against extortionate usurers are supplied by Shakespeare’s play, The Merchant of Venice.

Psalm 15:5. He that putteth not out his money to usury — In such a manner as is contrary to God’s law, of which see on Exodus 22:25; Leviticus 25:36-37. Or taketh reward — Or bribe, from him who hath a bad cause; that he may condemn the innocent or acquit the guilty: both which things God abhors. He that doeth these things — Here enumerated, in consequence of first having faith working by love, in consequence of the justification of his person and the renovation of his nature; he that, being made a tree of righteousness, thus glorifies God by bearing the fruit of righteousness, and being created anew, in Christ Jesus, unto good works, thus steadily and perseveringly walks in them; he shall never be moved — But shall abide with God, in his favour and family here, and shall dwell with him for ever hereafter. 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 putteth not out his money to usury - The word "usury" formerly denoted legal interest, or a premium for the use of money. In this sense the word is no longer used in our language, but it always now denotes unlawful interest; "a premium or compensation paid, or stipulated to be paid, for the use of money borrowed or retained, beyond the rate of interest established by law." "Webster." The Hebrew word used here - נשׁך neshek - means "interest," that is, a premium or compensation for the use of money in any manner, or to any extent. The reference is to the law of the Hebrews, which forbade such a loaning of money to the poor, and especially to poor Israelites, Exodus 22:25; Leviticus 25:35-37. Although this was forbidden in respect to the Israelites, yet the lending of money on interest, or "usury" in a lawful sense, was allowed toward "strangers," or toward the people of other nations.

See Deuteronomy 23:19-20. The ground of the distinction was, that the Hebrews were regarded as a nation of brethren; that, as such, they should be willing to accommodate and aid each other; that they should not do anything that could be regarded as unbrotherly. In respect to other people it was allowed, not because it was proper to take advantage of their wants, and to oppress them, but because this special reason did not exist in regard to them. That might be improper "in a family," among brothers and sisters, which would be entirely proper toward those who did not sustain this special relation; and we may conceive of cases - such cases in fact often occur - when it would be unkind in the highest degree to exact interest of a brother, or an intimate friend, while it is perfectly proper to receive the ordinary allowance for the use of money in our business transactions (that is, the ordinary rate of interest) of those who do not sustain to us this special relation.

The fact that it was allowed to the Hebrews to take interest of the people of other nations, shows that there was nothing morally wrong in the thing itself; and, in fact, there can be no reason why a man, to whom it is an accommodation, should not pay for the use of money as well as for the use of any other property. The thing forbidden here, therefore, is not the taking of interest in any case, but the taking of interest in such a way as would be oppressive and hard - as of a Hebrew demanding it from his poor and needy brother; and, by consequence, it would forbid the exacting of unusual and unlawful rates of interest, or taking advantage of the necessities of others - by evading the provisions of law, and making their circumstances an occasion of extortion. In one word, the thing forbidden is a harsh, grasping, griping disposition; a disposition to take advantage of the embarrassments of others to increase our own gains. Kindness, and an accommodating spirit in business transactions, are as much demanded now by the principles of religion as they were when this psalm was written, or as they were under the law which forbade the taking of interest from a poor and needy brother.

Nor taketh reward against the innocent - Who does not take a bribe; that is, does not accept a pecuniary consideration, or any other consideration, to induce him to decide a cause against justice. He is not, in any way, to allow any such considerations to influence him, or to sway his judgment. The taking of bribes is often expressly forbidden in the Scriptures. See Exodus 23:8; Deuteronomy 16:19; Deuteronomy 27:25; Proverbs 17:23.

He that doeth these things shall never be moved - That is, in answer to the question in Psalm 15:1, he shall be permitted to "abide in the tabernacle" of God, and to "dwell in his holy hill." He shall have a solid foundation of hope; he is a friend of God, and shall enjoy his favor forever. In other words, these things constitute true religion; and he who has such a character will obtain eternal life. His foundation is sure; he will be safe in all the storms of life, and safe when the cold waves of death beat around him. Compare Matthew 7:24-25.

5. (Compare Le 25:37; De 23:19, 20).

usury is derived from a verb meaning "to bite." All gains made by the wrongful loss of others are forbidden.

taketh reward, &c.—The innocent would not otherwise be condemned (compare Ex 23:8; De 16:19). Bribery of all sorts is denounced.

doeth these, &c.—Such persons admitted to God's presence and favor shall never be moved (Ps 10:6; 13:5).

He that putteth not out his money to usury, in such manner as is contrary to God’s law; of which see in Exodus 22:25 Leviticus 25:36,37.

Nor taketh reward, or a bribe, from him who hath a bad cause; that he may either condemn the innocent, or acquit the guilty; both which God abhorreth.

He that doth these things here enumerated, and such things as naturally and necessarily flow from them, or are akin to them, and joined with them, he shall constantly persevere in God’s church here; and though he may be shaken, and stagger and fall, yet he shall never wholly and finally be removed or fall away from it, nor from that happiness which was proposed and promised to him, but shall abide with God here, and go to him when he dies, and be for ever with the Lord. He that putteth not out his money to usury,.... To the poor, in an extravagant and exorbitant way, by which he bites, devours, and destroys his little substance, and sadly afflicts and distresses him; see Exodus 22:25; otherwise, to lend money on moderate interest, and according to the laws, customs, and usages of nations, and to take interest for it, is no more unlawful than to take interest for houses and land; yea, it is according to the law of common justice and equity, that if one man lends money to another to trade with, and gain by, that he should have a proportionate share in the gain of such a trade; but the design of this passage, and the law on which it is founded, is, to forbid all exactions and oppressions of the poor, and all avaricious practices, and to encourage liberality and beneficence; and such who are covetous, and bite and oppress the poor, are not fit for church communion; see 1 Corinthians 5:11;

nor taketh reward against the innocent; either to swear falsely against him, or to pass a wrong sentence on him; see 1 Samuel 12:3;

he that doeth these things shall never be moved; from the tabernacle of God, and his holy hill; he is fit to be a member of the church of God, and an inhabitant of Zion; and he shall dwell and abide there, he shall be a pillar which shall never go out, Revelation 3:12; he shall finally persevere, through the grace of God; he shall hold on and out unto the end: and though he may fall through infirmity and temptation into sin, and that many times, yet he shall not finally and totally fall, 2 Peter 1:10; but shall be as Mount Zion which can never be removed, Psalm 125:1; The words should be rendered, since the accent "athnach" is on "these things", thus; "he that doeth these things", not only what is mentioned in this verse, but in the foregoing, "he", I say, "shall never be moved".

He that {c} putteth not out his money to usury, nor taketh reward against the innocent. He that doeth these things {d} shall never be moved.

(c) To the hinderance of his neighbour.

(d) That is, will not be cast from the Church as a hypocrite.

5. He that hath not put out his money for usury,

Nor taken bribes against the Innocent.

Two of the most common and flagrant offences against justice. Cp. Isaiah 33:15; Ezekiel 22:12. Taking interest was forbidden by the Law in dealing with a fellow-countryman as an unbrotherly act (Leviticus 25:36-37; cp. Exodus 22:25; Ezekiel 18:17), but allowed in dealing with foreigners (Deuteronomy 23:19-20). Cp. Psalm 37:26, Psalm 112:5. For a survey of opinion on the subject in the Christian Church see Dict, of Christian Antiquities, Art. Usury, or Cunningham’s Christian Opinion on Usury. The positive rule of the O.T. has become obsolete under the circumstances of modern society, but the principle which underlies it is still of obligation.

Bribery has always been the curse of Oriental countries. For the laws against it see Deuteronomy 27:25; Exodus 23:7-8; Deuteronomy 16:19; and comp. numerous passages in the prophets.

shall never be moved] The Psalmist’s conclusion goes a step further than his opening question. Such a man as he has described will not only be admitted to fellowship with Jehovah, but under His protection will enjoy unshaken prosperity. Cp. Psalm 16:8.Verse 5. - He that putteth not out his money to usury. Usury, when one Israelite borrowed of another, was strictly forbidden by the Law (Exodus 22:25; Leviticus 25:36; Deuteronomy 23:19). When the borrower was a foreigner, it was lawful (Deuteronomy 15:3; Deuteronomy 33:20); and no discredit can attach to the practice, so long as the rate of interest charged is moderate (comp. Matthew 25:27). Here the writer contemplates only such usury as was forbidden by the Law. Nor taketh reward against the innocent; refuses, i.e., to take a bribe, either as judge or witness, when a charge is made against an innocent person. The contrary conduct was widely practised by the Israelites in later times (see Isaiah 1:23; Isaiah 5:23; Jeremiah 22:17; Ezekiel 22:12; Hoe. 4:18; Micah 3:11, etc.), and prevails generally in the East to the present day. He that doeth these things shall never be moved (comp. Psalm 16:8). He shall continue "steadfast, unmovable," having God "at his right hand," as his Protector and Sustainer.

The psalmist himself meets the oppressed full of joyous confidence, by reason of the self-manifestation of God in judgment, of which he is now become so confident and which so fills him with comfort. Instead of the sixth tristich, which we expected, we have another distich. The Hiph. הבישׁ with a personal object signifies: to put any one to shame, i.e., to bring it about that any one must be ashamed, e.g., Psalm 44:8 (cf. Psalm 53:6, where the accusative of the person has to be supplied), or absolutely: to act shamefully, as in the phrase used in Proverbs, בּן מיבישׁ (a prodigal son). It appears only here with a neuter accusative of the object, not in the signification to defame (Hitz.), - a meaning it never has (not even in Proverbs 13:5, where it is blended with הבאישׁ to make stinking, i.e., a reproach, Genesis 34:30) - but to confound, put to shame equals to frustrate (Hupf.), which is at once the most natural meaning in connection with עצת. But it is not to be rendered: ye put to shame, because..., for to what purpose is this statement with this inapplicable reason in support of it? The fut. תּבישׁוּ is used with a like shade of meaning as in Leviticus 19:17, and the imperative elsewhere; and כּי gives the reason for the tacitly implied clause, or if a line is really lost from the strophe, the lost clause (cf. Isaiah 8:9.): ye will not accomplish it. עצה is whatsoever the pious man, who as such suffers reproach, plans to do for the glory of his God, or even in accordance with the will of his God. All this the children of the world, who are in possession of worldly power, seek to frustrate; but viewed in the light of the final decision their attempt is futile: Jahve is his refuge, or, literally the place whither he flees to hide himself and finds a hiding or concealment (צל, Arab. dall, סתר, Arab. sitr, Arabic also drâ). מחסּהוּ has an orthophonic Dag., which obviates the necessity for the reading מחסּהוּ (cf. תּעלּים Psalm 10:1, טעמּו Psalm 34:1, לאסּר Psalm 105:22, and similar instances).
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