3. He that slandereth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his companion, nor raiseth up a calumnious report against his neighbor.
David, after having briefly set forth the virtues with which all who desire to have a place in the Church ought to be endued, now enumerates certain vices from which they ought to be free. In the first place, he tells them that they must not be slanderers or detractors; secondly, that they must restrain themselves from doing any thing mischievous and injurious to their neighbors; and, thirdly, that they must not aid in giving currency to calumnies and false reports. Other vices, from which the righteous are free, we shall meet with as we proceed. David, then, sets down calumny and detraction as the first point of injustice by which our neighbors are injured. If a good name is a treasure, more precious than all the riches of the world, (Proverbs 22:1,) no greater injury can be inflicted upon men than to wound their reputation. It is not, however, every injurious word which is here condemned; but the disease and lust of detraction, which stirs up malicious persons to spread abroad calumnies. At the same time, it cannot be doubted that the design of the Holy Spirit is to condemn all false and wicked accusations. In the clause which immediately follows, the doctrine that the children of God ought to be far removed from all injustice, is stated more generally: Nor doeth evil to his companion. By the words companion and neighbor, the Psalmist means not only those with whom we enjoy familiar intercourse, and live on terms of intimate friendship, but all men, to whom we are bound by the ties of humanity and a common nature. He employs these terms to show more clearly the odiousness of what he condemns, and that the saints may have the greater abhorrence of all wrong dealing, since every man who hurts his neighbor violates the fundamental law of human society. With respect to the meaning of the last clause, interpreters are not agreed. Some take the phrase, to raise up a calumnious report, for to invent, because malicious persons raise up calumnies from nothing; and thus it would be a repetition of the statement contained in the first clause of the verse, namely, that good men should not allow themselves to indulge in detraction. But I think there is also here rebuked the vice of undue credulity, which, when any evil reports are spread against our neighbors, leads us either eagerly to listen to them, or at least to receive them without sufficient reason; whereas we ought rather to use all means to suppress and trample them under foot. When any one is the bearer of invented falsehoods, those who reject them leave them, as it were, to fall to the ground; while, on the contrary, those who propagate and publish them from one person to another are, by an expressive form of speech, said to raise them up.