In this verse David enjoins the godly neither to oppress their neighbours by usury, nor to suffer themselves to be corrupted with bribes to favour unrighteous causes. With respect to the first clause, as David seems to condemn all kinds of usury in general, and without exception, the very name has been every where held in detestation. But crafty men have invented specious names under which to conceal the vice; and thinking by this artifice to escape, they have plundered with greater excess than if they had lent on usury avowedly and openly. God, however, will not be dealt with and imposed upon by sophistry and false pretences. He looks upon the thing as it really is. There is no worse species of usury than an unjust way of making bargains, where equity is disregarded on both sides. Let us then remember that all bargains in which the one party unrighteously strives to make gain by the loss of the other party, whatever name may be given to them, are here condemned. It may be asked, Whether all kinds of usury are to be put into this denunciation, and regarded as alike unlawful? If we condemn all without distinction, there is a danger lest many, seeing themselves brought into such a strait, as to find that sin must be incurred, in whatever way they can turn themselves, may be rendered bolder by despair, and may rush headlong into all kinds of usury, without choice or discrimination. On the other hand, whenever we concede that something may be lawfully done this way, many will give themselves loose reins, thinking that a liberty to exercise usury, without control or moderation, has been granted them. In the first place, therefore, I would, above all things, counsel my readers to beware of ingeniously contriving deceitful pretexts, by which to take advantage of their fellow-men, and let them not imagine that any thing can be lawful to them which is grievous and hurtful to others.
With respect to usury, it is scarcely possible to find in the world a usurer who is not at the same time an extortioner, and addicted to unlawful and dishonourable gain. Accordingly, Cato of old justly placed the practice of usury and the killing of men in the same rank of criminality, for the object of this class of people is to suck the blood of other men. It is also a very strange and shameful thing, that, while all other men obtain the means of their subsistence with much toil, while husbandmen fatigue themselves by their daily occupations, and artisans serve the community by the sweat of their brow, and merchants not only employ themselves in labours, but also expose themselves to many inconveniences and dangers,—that money-mongers should sit at their ease without doing any thing, and receive tribute from the labour of all other people. Besides, we know that generally it is not the rich who are exhausted by their usury,2 but poor men, who ought rather to be relieved. It is not, therefore, without cause that God has, in Lev. 25:35, 36, forbidden usury, adding this reason, “And if thy brother be waxen poor and fallen in decay with thee, then thou shalt relieve him; take thou no usury of him or increase.” We see that the end for which the law was framed was, that men should not cruelly oppress the poor, who ought rather to receive sympathy and compassion. This was, indeed, a part of the judicial law which God appointed for the Jews in particular; but it is a common principle of justice which extends to all nations and to all ages, that we should keep ourselves from plundering and devouring the poor who are in distress and want. Whence it follows, that the gain which he who lends his money upon interest acquires, without doing injury to any one, is not to be included under the head of unlawful usury. The Hebrew word נשך, neshek, which David employs, being derived from another word, which signifies to bite, sufficiently shows that usuries are condemned in so far as they involve in them or lead to a license of robbing and plundering our fellow-men. Ezekiel, indeed, chapters 18:17, and 22:12, seems to condemn the taking of any interest whatever upon money lent; but he doubtless has an eye to the unjust and crafty arts of gaining, by which the rich devoured the poor people. In short, provided we had engraven on our hearts the rule of equity, which Christ prescribes in Matthew 7:12, “Therefore, all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them,” it would not be necessary to enter into lengthened disputes concerning usury.
What next follows in the text properly applies to judges who, being corrupted by presents and rewards, pervert all law and justice. It may, however, be extended farther, inasmuch as it often happens, that even private individuals are corrupted by bribes to favour and defend bad causes. David, therefore, comprehends, in general, all those corruptions by which we are led away from truth and uprightness. Some think that what is here intended is the rapacity of judges in extorting money from the innocent who are accused, as the price of their deliverance, when they ought rather to have protected and assisted them gratuitously. But it appears from the passages similar to this in Ezekiel, which we have quoted, that the sense is different.
He who doeth these things. This conclusion warns us again, that all who thrust themselves into the sanctuary of God are not permanent citizens of “the holy Jerusalem which is above;” but that hypocrites, and all who falsely assume the title of saints, shall at length be “cast out” with Ishmael whom they resemble. That which is ascribed in Psalm 46 to the whole Church, David here applies to every one of the faithful: He shall not be moved for ever. The reason of this which is there expressed is, because God dwells in the midst of Jerusalem. On the contrary, we know that he is far from the perfidious and the wicked, who approach him only with the mouth, and with feigned lips.
5a When the wise promise, make a vow, or swear to do something, they remain true to their word (cf. Ecc 5:1–7; Mt 5:33–37). They have a deep sense of integrity and must often make material sacrifices to be honest. Their honor is more important than their wallet.
The concern of the wise for people shows up also in their relationship to the poor and those who need justice (v. 5). The poor at times needed a loan to keep from being sold into slavery. The idiom “lends his money” (lit., “his silver he does not give”) refers to the practice of giving silver as an ancient equivalent for money lending.
“Usury” was the practice of charging high interest on business loans. According to the law, the Israelite was not to take advantage of the adversities of a fellow Israelite who had fallen on hard times (Ex 22:25–27; Lev 25:35–36; Dt 23:19). Usury was prohibited because of the need of the poor to not get further into debt and because of the ancient Near Eastern practice of high interest rates—as much as 50 percent (cf. “Interest,” ZPEB 3:295). Israelites were to have regard for their fellow Israelites.
Often the poor were also cast into court and taken advantage of by the well-to-do, who could easily afford to pay a bribe to thwart justice. The law strictly prohibited bribery (cf. Ex 23:8; Dt 16:19). The godly witness or judge should refuse any bribe as being a perversion of justice. Dahood, 1:83–85, goes beyond this in suggesting that “innocent” should be translated “hungry” (based on Am 4:6) and that the word for “bribe” be given the broader meaning “compensation”: “nor accept compensation from the hungry.” Though the law clearly prohibits usury and bribery, it does not prohibit receiving equitable compensation. Moreover, the legal aspect of the regulations of vv. 4b–5a inclines the balance in favor of the usual legal meaning of “innocent” (over against Dahood).
The prophets did not spare words in condemning the practice of bribery (cf. Isa 1:23; 5:23; Am 5:11–15). The godly person does not discriminate against the poor in favor of the rich, powerful, and influential.
The Promise (15:5b)
5b The reward of God ensures that the wise will “dwell” with the Lord (v. 1; cf. 23:6). They may experience adversities, but they will never fall (cf. 37:31), as the wicked will (1:4–6; 9:17; 37:36). They will “never be shaken” (cf. 16:8). This is God’s promise. Clearly the ethics of God’s people are not a system of morality independent of the Lord; rather, they have a theological basis. This is also Jesus’ emphasis in the Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5–7).
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).
Ver. 5.—He that putteth not out his money to usury. Usury, when one Israelite borrowed of another, was strictly forbidden by the Law (Exod. 22:25; Lev. 25:36; Deut. 23:19). When the borrower was a foreigner, it was lawful (Deut. 15:3; 33:20); and no discredit can attach to the practice, so long as the rate of interest charged is moderate (comp. Matt. 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 Isa. 1:23; 5:23; Jer. 22:17; Ezek. 22:12; Hos. 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. Ps. 16:8). He shall continue “steadfast, unmovable,” having God “at his right hand,” as his Protector and Sustainer.
5 “He that putteth not out his money to usury.” Usury was and is hateful both to God and man. That a lender should share with the borrower in gains made by his money is most fitting and proper; but that the man of property should eat up the poor wretch who unfortunately obtained a loan of him is abominable. Those who grind poor tradesmen, needy widows, and such like, by charging them interest at intolerable rates, will find that their gold and their silver are cankered. The man who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord must shake off this sin as Paul shook the viper into the fire. “Nor taketh reward against the innocent.” Bribery is a sin both in the giver and the receiver. It was frequently practised in Eastern courts of justice; that form of it is now under our excellent judges almost an unheard-of thing; yet the sin survives in various forms, which the reader needs not that we should mention; and under every shape it is loathsome to the true man of God. He remembers that Jesus instead of taking reward against the innocent died for the guilty.
5 “He that doeth these things shall never be moved.” No storm shall tear him from his foundations, drag him from his anchorage, or uproot him from his place. Like the Lord Jesus, whose dominion is everlasting, the true Christian shall never lose his crown. He shall not only be on Zion, but like Zion, fixed and firm. He shall dwell in the tabernacle of the Most High, and neither death nor judgment shall remove him from his place of privilege and blessedness.
Let us betake ourselves to prayer and self-examination, for this Psalm is as fire for the gold, and as a furnace for silver. Can we endure its testing power?
The Final State of the Truly Faithful (15:5b)
15:5b. The hope of the truly faithful, whatever he may experience in this life, is that he will never be shaken, that is, he will never lose or be separated from his promised inheritance of life in the new creation in the presence of God (cf. Rm 8:38–39). Implicit in this affirmation, as highlighted in the following psalm where the same phraseology is employed, is that the faithful will never be shaken because the Lord Himself is at their right hand (Ps 16:8), referring to the believer’s reliance on God (including His Word and His character), the only unshakable foundation in this corrupt and crumbling world (the same phraseology is used in Pss 21:8; 112:6; 125:1; Pr 10:30; 12:3).
15:5 The friend of God does not put out his money at interest, that is, to another member of God’s family. Under the law of Moses, an Israelite could lend to Gentiles at interest (Deut. 23:19, 20) but was forbidden to do so to a fellow Jew (Ex. 22:25; Lev. 25:35–37).
If Jews living under law were guided by this principle, how much more so should Christians living under grace!
Finally, the righteous man does not take a bribe against the innocent. He hates the perversion of justice, and disproves the old saying that “everybody has his price.”
This then is the type of person who lives for God in time and for eternity. Come to think of it, no one else would be comfortable in God’s presence!
 Calvin, J., & Anderson, J. (2010). Commentary on the Book of Psalms (Vol. 1, pp. 212–214). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
 VanGemeren, W. A. (2008). Psalms. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Psalms (Revised Edition) (Vol. 5, pp. 184–185). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
 Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 1, p. 350). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
 Spence-Jones, H. D. M. (Ed.). (1909). Psalms (Vol. 1, p. 92). London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company.
 Spurgeon, C. H. (n.d.). The treasury of David: Psalms 1-26 (Vol. 1, p. 178). London; Edinburgh; New York: Marshall Brothers.
 Rydelnik, M., Vanlaningham, M., Barbieri, L. A., Boyle, M., Coakley, J., Dyer, C. H., … Zuber, K. D. (2014). Psalms. In The moody bible commentary (p. 772). Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.
 MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 565). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.