“He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour.”
As we continue our journey through Psalm 15, we see more of God’s requirements for those who will abide in His tabernacle or dwell in His holy hill. Our present text has to do with our relationship with others, and particularly the way we treat our fellow man. The person who desires to walk in harmony with the Great Shepherd must be someone who “backbiteth not with his tongue.” One cannot expect to be in close fellowship with God who slanders and criticizes others.
God has much to say in the Bible about the talebearer. The tongue is a powerful tool for good, both in blessing and praising God, and in encouraging each other. However, the tongue can be equally destructive when it is used to damage the reputation of others or spread gossip. The wounds of the tongue can be difficult to heal. If a person has a problem with a brother or sister that requires reconciliation, he should go to the person in question, not discuss it behind his back with others. This is one of those sins that we sometimes have a tendency to excuse or minimize. However, God does not minimize it.
This text clearly emphasizes the importance of our relationship with others if we expect to have a close walk with the Lord. The person who is seeking a more intimate fellowship must not be one that “doeth evil to his neighbour.” There are many ways to do evil to our neighbor. Of course, taking into consideration the previous phrase, one way would be to speak evil of him. Much evil has been done to the innocent by the weapon of words.
We are told to love our neighbor as ourselves. When we love our neighbor, we will be careful to protect his good name, as well as his property. It is evil to deliberately seek to harm others, even if they have done us wrong. The Bible tells us, “Recompense to no man evil for evil” (Romans 12:17). Neither should we be guilty of taking “up a reproach against” a neighbor.
We should be slow to believe negative information about our brothers or sisters. To take up means “to receive as true or grasp and hold on to an evil report.” To the contrary, we should always hope for the best and believe the best about others. If there were no one to receive and pass along ill reports, ill reports would soon diminish.