Accuse Not a Servant unto His Master
1. Verse 10 begins a section in which Agur gives advice to Ithiel and Ucal. (vs.1)
2. The advice in verse 10 is against slandering a household servant.
3. This verse also serves as an introduction to verses 11-14.
1. Accuse Defined:
a. The term “accused” here literally means “the tongue” and often is used of a misuse of the tongue.
b. Psalm 52:2, 4 – mischief, like a razor, deceit, etc.
c. Prov. 6:17 – God hates a lying tongue.
d. It sometimes means “to hurt with the tongue.”
e. To slander; to accuse; insult; evil speaking.
f. As used in Prov. 30:10, the term implies an accusation, slander, or evil speaking against the servant in one way or another.
2. The servant
a. The term can mean “slave.”
b. However, the Hebrew concept was different from what we might think of as a slave.
c. The Hebrew servant was a domestic servant or an indentured servant – almost like a hired hand.
d. Ex. 21:2 – His time of service was limited to six years.
e. Ex. 21:20 – The Law of Moses also provided protection for the Hebrew servant.
f. Some servants could rise to position of power and honor – as Joseph did in Egypt. He was a “steward” of all his master’s goods.
g. The Hebrew servant was more like a domestic servant. He was considered part of the household.
3. Accusing a servant to his master
a. The accusation against the servant in this proverb is a false accusation. We know this because the man is in danger of being found guilty.
b. Agur is not speaking about a legitimate accusation against a servant. (For example: stealing from his master or committing some other crime.)
c. The proverb exhorts readers not to falsely accuse a servant.
d. Don’t make up a story about him and report it to his master.
4. The passage is an exhortation not to stick your nose into the domestic affairs of some else’s household.
a. The servant was considered to be a part of the household.
b. Falsely accusing him before his master was like driving a wedge between them.
c. This is an act of sabotage against a family… against their household—which included their servants.
d. Because it was a false accusation, it was obviously coming from a trouble maker. He was making up stories to drive wedges and to pit one person against another in a household.
e. This accusation is coming from a meddler… an evil busybody… someone trying to stir up evil feelings.
f. The accuser here is a liar with evil motives; he or she is a home-wrecker.
5. The exhortation: don’t do this!
a. Don’t falsely accuse a servant to his master.
b. It might seem like an easy thing to do… to slander a lowly servant. A servant might seem like an easy target. He is lowly and unable to defend himself. Who’s going to believe a servant?
c. It might be fun to watch all the trouble that gets stirred up.
d. Solomon wrote that it is “as sport to a fool to do mischief.” (Prov. 10:23)
e. But Agur says, “Don’t do it!”
f. Don’t falsely accuse someone in a lower position than yourself; don’t lie about them; don’t slander; don’t speak evil of someone… just because they are in a lowly position and you think you can get away with it.
1. The exhortation is followed by a warning: If you DO slander a servant, he may curse you and you might be found guilty.
2. Consider the terms used:
a. Curse: To slight; to trifle; to appear insignificant; to be lightly esteemed; to make despicable; to bring contempt; to dishonor; to curse; etc.
b. Guilty: Faulty; offend; declared guilty; exposed for wrongdoing.
3. The point here is that the slanderer may be exposed for what he really is.
a. He may find that he only stirred up trouble for himself.
b. He may discover that his little “sport” backfired on him.
4. The lowly servant who is falsely accused may come upon an opportunity to “curse” his accuser.
a. The slanderer who tried to curse (cause people to despise) the servant may himself be despised in the end.
b. The tables could be turned and the servant may end up having the upper hand.
c. In the end, the servant may prove himself to be innocent and end up causing the slanderer to be lightly esteemed in the eyes of all… to be dishonored… to be held in contempt.
d. By throwing out that false accusation, the slanderer may have hoped to hurt the servant. He may have hoped to make trouble for him… to cause his master not to trust him anymore.
e. He may have hoped to cause trouble for the whole family.
f. The slanderer may have expected that he would cause the servant to be despised and held in contempt by all.
g. But in the end, the tables might be turned. It may be that the slanderer is the one held in contempt by all… and dishonored.
5. It only takes a minute to spew out a thoughtless slander or to lie against someone.
a. But if discovered, YOU might be the one who ends up hated and scorned.
b. YOU may be the one who is held in contempt.
c. And in that setting and culture, it would be especially embarrassing, humiliating, and dishonorable to be cursed and shamed by someone from an inferior station in life.
d. And while it only takes a minute to gossip about someone and slander them, if exposed as a liar and a slanderer, it could take years to earn a good reputation again.
e. It is quick and easy to destroy a testimony. It takes a long time with much effort to rebuild it.
f. Prov. 25:8-10 – “Go not forth hastily to strive, lest thou know not what to do in the end thereof, when thy neighbour hath put thee to shame. 9Debate thy cause with thy neighbour himself; and discover not a secret to another: 10Lest he that heareth it put thee to shame, and thine infamy turn not away.”
g. It is not easy to UN-DO your reputation once you establish yourself as a slanderer, a gossip, a liar, or a trouble maker.
h. Rebuilding one’s testimony can be done—but how much better not to have to!
6. Agur speaks here about a kind of poetic justice: in the end, the guilty slanderer is exposed, and the innocent servant is exonerated.
a. This kind of justice is “proverbial.”
b. We have seen this truth repeated many times in proverbs in all kinds of settings: in the end, you reap what you sow!
c. Prov. 6:12-15: 12 “A naughty person, a wicked man, walketh with a froward mouth. 13 He winketh with his eyes, he speaketh with his feet, he teacheth with his fingers; 14 Frowardness is in his heart, he deviseth mischief continually; he soweth discord. 15 Therefore shall his calamity come suddenly; suddenly shall he be broken without remedy.”
d. Be sure your sin will find you out! (Num. 32:23)