Verse 1. - Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? rather, Who shall sojourn? Whom wilt thou accept as a sojourner in thy tent, to be near to thee, and consort with thee? Who shall dwell (i.e. whom wilt thou permit to dwell) in thy holy hill? The "tabernacle" and the "holy hill" of Zion are, of course, not to be understood literally. They are figurative expressions, pointing to the Divine presence and favour, and the blessedness of abiding in them.
He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart.
Verse 2. - He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness. An upright walk is the first requisite (comp. Genesis 17:1; Psalm 26:3, 11; Isaiah 33:15). Such a walk involves the doing of righteousness, not, of course, in absolute perfection, but with a sincere intention, and so as to have "the answer of a good conscience towards God" (1 Peter 3:21). And speaketh the truth in his heart. Not "from his heart," as in the Prayer-book Version, which would make the reference one to mere truth of speech, but "in his heart," which points to internal truthfulness - that truthfulness "in the hidden council-chamber of the soul," which "holds no parley with what is false" (Kay).
He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour.
Verse 3. - He that backbiteth not with his tongue. Among the negative virtues the first place is given to the observance of the ninth commandment, probably because to err in this respect is so very common a fault (see Jeremiah 6:28; Jeremiah 9:4; James 3:5-8). Nor doeth evil to his neighbour; rather, to his friend, or his companion - a different word from that used at the end of the verse, and implying greater intimacy. There is special wickedness in injuring one with whom we are intimate. Nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour. The good man does not, even when it is true, spread an ill report concerning his neighbour. He prefers to keep silence, and let the report die out (see Exodus 33:1).
In whose eyes a vile person is contemned; but he honoureth them that fear the LORD. He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not.
Verse 4. - In whose eyes a vile person is contemned. So the LXX., the Vulgate, Ewald, Hupfeld, Hengstenberg, and the Revised Version. Others prefer to translate, "He is despised in his own eyes, [and] worthless" (Abort Ezra, Hitzig, Delitzsch, Kay, 'Speaker's Commentary'). Either rendering furnishes a good sense; but the law of parallelism is very decidedly in favour of the former. As the righteous man honors those who fear God, so he contemns those who are vile or worthless. He is no respecter of persons. Men's outward circumstances are nothing to him. He awards honour or contempt according to men's moral qualities. But he honoreth them that fear the Lord. "It is no common virtue," says Calvin, "to honour pious and godly men, since in the opinion of the world they are often as the offscouring of all things (1 Corinthans 4:13)? He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not. The righteous man, if he happens to have sworn to do something which it turns out will be to his own hurt, nevertheless keeps his engagement (comp Leviticus 5:4, where לְהָרַע is used in the same sense).
He that putteth not out his money to usury, nor taketh reward against the innocent. He that doeth these things shall never be moved.
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.