A talebearer revealeth secrets.
1. What is a talebearer?
a. This verse defines it for us. He reveals secrets.
b. In other words, when you tell something to this person in private—it doesn’t remain private. He blabs it all over town.
c. This is the person who cannot be trusted with a secret… you cannot speak in confidence to him… for your confidential words will be broadcast.
d. Consider the OPPOSITE of a talebearer in this verse: one who is of a faithful spirit.
• A faithful spirit is one that can be trusted.
• A talebearer is UNFAITHFUL.
e. A faithful friend is one in whom we can confide. We can open up and share with him some of the secrets of our heart. We can confess our faults to him. A faithful friend conceals the matter.
f. A talebearer: is the opposite. When he gets wind of a person’s faults… or when he is told something in confidence… he does NOT conceal the matter but REVEALS the matter.
g. According to this passage, the real problem with a talebearer is not just that he has a big mouth. The problem is not that he is talkative… gregarious… lacking self-control… or
h. The real issue is one of faithfulness.
• It is not just a matter of the tongue. It is a matter of the heart.
• He is not faithful to God who says NOT to be a talebearer.
• He is not faithful to his so-called friend he tore up with words.
• He is not faithful to his word. He said it was in confidence, but instead of concealing it, he reveals it.
• He is not a faithful person! His is not a faithful SPIRIT… there is a lack of faithfulness deep in the innermost part of his being.
2. This was part of the Law of Moses. (Lev. 19:16)
a. This is no new problem facing the modern world.
b. This problem has been around ever since shortly after the fall. (Immediately after the fall Adam and Eve had no third party to whom secrets could be told! If there was another person there, Adam would have snitched on Eve and vice versa! It’s human nature.)
THE CONSEQUENCES OF TALEBEARING
1. HE SEPARATES VERY FRIENDS (17:9)
a. Very friends = chief friends.
b. The talebearer is one who REPEATS matters that should not be repeated. (Haven’t we all been there!)
c. Not only is it sin for the one repeating the matter, but it is also extremely disruptive & divisive.
d. Talebearing separates friends… good friends… even chief friends!
e. This sort of thing can ruin friendships… marriages… families… churches…
f. Talebearing can turn friends against each other.
g. Usually when someone “bears a tale” he spices that tale up a bit… exaggerating here… stretching the truth there… leaving out key ingredients to make the one he’s tearing down look even worse…
h. The tale that people end up hearing from the talebearer is often quite distorted… twisted… manipulated… jaded… — you get the idea!
i. This kind of talebearing is effective at dividing and disrupting.
2. STRIFE (26:20)
a. When the talebearer is gone, so is the strife.
b. In other words, his presence means trouble… strife…
c. He is constantly telling other people bad things about his victims.
d. He usually does so to make himself LOOK GOOD and the other person LOOK BAD.
e. In the process, he turns people against each other.
f. He causes division and strife.
• The strife will continue as long as he is practicing his evil trade.
• Prov. 20:19 – we are told NOT TO MEDDLE with a known gossiper. Stay away. That person is trouble.
• He goes around from one person to the next telling everyone how awful his victim is…
• God’s word to us: don’t listen! Don’t get involved! Don’t meddle with such a person. He is up to no good.
3. HIS WORDS ARE USUALLY ACCEPTED (18:8)
a. His words are like wounds.
• Strong’s defines it as gulp; that which is gulped down;
• Gesenius Hebrew Lexicon – defines it as that which is swallowed down greedily… like a glutton…
• Theological Wordbook of Old Testament – “bits greedily swallowed down.”
• I couldn’t find any dictionaries or lexicons or other sources which agree with the KJV on this verse.
• Most translations translate this word as “dainty morsels.”
• This changes the meaning of the verse drastically.
b. This means then that Solomon is not speaking about the pain that talebearing inflicts on people, but rather on the insatiable desire there IS for such talebearing.
• People love to hear gossip. They gobble it up like dainty morsels of lobster dunked in melted butter!
• Of course, this causes great pain to the one who is gossiped about—especially when he realizes that it is human nature to gobble it up!
c. People gobble them up and they are taken in… into their innermost parts! Men have an insatiable desire to hear gossip. They eat it up and take it in.
d. Just consider how many gossip papers there are on the newsstand… how many gossip columns in the newspaper… on TV…and radio talk shows give men opportunity to hear the latest gossip about the stars… they eat it up like dainty morsels…
e. People LOVE juicy stories.
f. The words of the talebearer are usually taken in… eaten up… rather than examined.
• Hence, it is dangerous! Much damage can be done by gossip.
• He is divisive and disruptive BECAUSE people listen… because people take it in and swallow it without careful examination.
• We are told to PROVE ALL THINGS. (I Thess. 5:21-22)
• Phil. 1:10 – We are told to APPROVE (test with a view towards approval) things that are excellent… THAT we may be sincere and without offence!
• In other words, the believer should not be ready to gobble up gossip and take it in… accept it without examining it.
4. THE TALEBEARER HAS NO FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD
a. The question might be paraphrased, “Who can have fellowship with God? Who is close to the Lord? Who is able to worship the Lord acceptably?”
b. David gives the answer: The one who uses his mouth to speak truth and not to backbite… that’s who!
c. In other words, if we use our mouth to backbite and speak reproachfully of others and to tear others down, we are NOT abiding in the presence of the Lord! Period!
d. Even if we think we are… or feel like we are. God says we are not! His is the opinion that counts!
e. The talebearer may be accepted and his words may be gobbled up by unthinking men. But he is NOT accepted before the Lord.
5. THE TALEBEARER OPENS HIMSELF UP FOR CHASTENING
a. Vs. 19 – God notes that these men used their mouths for evil.
b. Vs. 20 – They spoke against and slandered their own brothers.
c. Vs. 21 – These men used their tongues in an evil manner and God said nothing.
• The men made a wrong assumption.
• They assumed that since God didn’t immediately chasten them for their sin—no lightening bolt fell from heaven—therefore, God must be like them!
• God must not care too much about slander… talebearing… etc.
d. Vs. 21b – BUT—God begs to differ with their assumption!
• They could think whatever they wanted to about God. That doesn’t change God’s character.
• BUT—God will reprove them for their error. God will set matters in order in His own good time.
e. Vs. 22 – God reminds them NOT to forget about Him when they speak, or He will “tear them in pieces!” Harsh language. God takes the use of our tongues seriously!
f. Vs. 23 – on the other side of the spectrum is the one who uses his tongue for good—to praise the Lord!
• God will deliver this one from trouble! This is the man God will honor.
• What a contrast: those who use their tongues for evil God will tear to pieces! Those who use their tongues for good, God will deliver from trouble (save).
• It makes sense for us to use our tongues wisely… especially now that we know how God feels about it.
• He’s NOT like us! He is infinitely holy…
But he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter.
1. Note once again, that the opposite of a talebearer is a man who is of a faithful spirit.
2. This man CONCEALS the dirty laundry rather than displaying it for all to see.
3. Conceal: to cover; conceal; hide; to clothe; to cover for protection.
4. Prov. 10:12 – it is LOVE that motivates a man to cover the faults of others… of his spouse, children, parents, brethren at church, office workers, classmates, neighbors.
a. We all have faults… we all have dirty laundry.
b. Nobody wants their dirty laundry displayed for all to see. It is embarrassing and humiliating.
c. A person motivated by something “other than love” will display that dirty laundry… in order to embarrass and humiliate his victims!
d. But a person motivated by love will cover it… hide it… protect that person by covering his faults…
e. What motivates you? And me?
• Is it hatred? Then we will spread gossip, display dirty laundry, and stir up strife.
• Is it love? Then we will bury the gossip… not listen to gossip… conceal the faults of others… and refuse to add fuel to the fire.
• When love is functioning—the strife will disappear. When you stop throwing logs on, the fire goes out!
5. The person who operates in love, conceals the dirty laundry of others rather than exposing it, refuses to go around as a talebearer speaking evil of others.
a. Solomon doesn’t say here that that person has great self-control. Nor does he say that that person has learned to tame his tongue.
b. It isn’t really a matter of the tongue, but of the heart.
c. Solomon says that the person who CONCEALS the matter is FAITHFUL!
• Don’t you want friends like that? Faithful!
• For a spouse to reveal the secrets of his or her spouses heart before others would be the ultimate example of unfaithfulness.
• For family members or church members to reveal dirty laundry is an expression of UNFAITHFULNESS.
• How much better to be loyal and faithful… a faithful friend… a faithful spouse… a faithful family member… a faithful church member.
• Faithfulness is a matter of the heart. Keep your heart with all diligence—and your tongue will be kept as well.