Wise Words From the Book of Proverbs

The words of a talebearer are as wounds [dainty morsels], and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly

Proverbs 18. 8

This little proverb is so important that it is stated twice, here and in Proverbs 26. 22. It warns us of the pleasure and problem of gossip; the pleasure lies in the telling and the hearing of the gossip; the problem is in the effect it has upon us.

The word for ‘talebearer’ here is the same as ‘whisperer’ in 16. 28. This is someone who murmurs and whispers about other people behind their backs. Gossips never share their secrets in front of the person about whom they are speaking. They are always busy behind the scenes, with a brief word, a nudge, a ‘Did you know?’ or a ‘Have you heard?’ They usually speak in those whispering, low tones, as though they don’t want anyone to overhear them, when really they would like everybody but their subject to hear their titbits of news.The trouble is, what gossips have to share is likened to ‘dainty morsels’. The description comes from the verb to devour, swallow, gobble up.

Listening to gossip, and spreading it, is as easy and as pleasurable as sucking sweets or eating pastries. And turning away from it is as hard as saying ‘No’ to the most gorgeous pudding one ever saw. The problem of gossip is what it does to people. In Proverbs 16. 28 the gossip divides the best of friends. In chapter 26 and verse 20 the gossip causes strife. This is because the sweet titbit of news goes down ‘to the innermost parts of the belly’. This is a phrase that means the very inner chambers of the heart of a man or woman, Prov. 20. 27. The problem with gossip is that it influences our thoughts and our opinions without us knowing it. Once accepted, it is hard to reject. We may never think so well of the person about whom the gossip speaks, even though we may do our best to do otherwise.Gossip may be delicious to hear and to mull over; but it is a powerful destroyer of relationships and opinions.

God hates gossip and gossips. It would be good if we could determine never to listen to gossip and never to engage in it or pass on anything we hear. Pleasant words and pleasant speech are life and health to the body, Prov.4. 22. Though the exhortation ‘speak not evil one of another, brethren’ may refer to speech in a wider sense, it is still true of gossip too. There has been many a man, woman, reputation or life destroyed by malicious talk. Do not engage in it. If you know or hear of anything bad about a brother or sister, talk to the Lord about it, and not to anyone else.