God’s Word for You
Proverbs 26:22-26 The whispers of a gossip
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Saturday, February 22, 2020
22 The whispers of a gossip are like delicious morsels;
they go down into the inner parts of the body.
I have translated the phrase “the words of a whisperer” as “the whispers of a gossip” in order to try to catch the flavor of the Hebrew in English. This is a repeat of Proverbs 18:8, but it fits here with this series about gossip. The things that a gossip says are like sweet tasty candy; we love to take it all in. But this exposes our sinful human nature. While my own evil heart causes enough sin in my life, there are external causes for sin. One of these is the devil but another cause is sinful people, such as the gossip or “whisperer.” Solomon warns: “My son, if sinners entice you, do not give in to them” (Proverbs 1:10). A warning should suffice for the Christian, but nevertheless we falter. “Each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and sin, when it is full-grown gives birth to death” (James 1:14-15). So when God warns me through his word, or through another Christian, or even with a warning that seems to come out of the blue (even this takes place from time to time!), I need to listen to the voice of the Spirit and turn from sin.
23 Like the glaze coating of a clay pot
are burning lips with an evil heart.
The glaze coating of a pot is a smooth covering, concealing what it covers in such a pretty way. The fervent or burning lips of an adulteress conceal the wickedness in her heart. This is true of other sinners as well who want to entice us to sin along with them. This proverb fits the temptations of the devil as well as those from sinful mankind all around us.
On the other hand, every husband should remember that a tired goodnight kiss from his wife, a mere moment’s affection, is infinitely more precious than repeated hot kisses from any woman who is not his wife. Whoever she is, her intention is sinful; she does not have his good marriage at heart. She is driving a wedge between him and his wife, and so she has broken through the fencing of the Sixth Commandment, the Tenth, and all of the others as well (James 2:10). She doesn’t have God’s good will in mind, and she has shown hatred for her neighbor, his dear wife. Whatever “glaze coating” adorns her lips, her heart is evil. More than her lips will burn if she does not repent.
24 An enemy disguises his words
while harboring deceit in his heart.
Verse 24 really restates verse 23 but turns from the context of the adulteress to another kind of enemy, one who has a man’s death or ruin in mind. But as with the adulteress, what is on his lips is disguised. In this case, we must understand that the reverse, though painful, is the truth. A genuine friend who points out my flaws is infinitely more valuable to me, and precious, than an enemy who has no good in mind for me but flatters me with useless platitudes.
25 His speech seems gracious, but do not believe it,
for there are seven abominations in that heart.
26 Though his hatred is covered with deception,
his wickedness will be exposed in the assembly.
These verses restate the warning of verse 24 and expand on it. “Seven” here means “many” just as it did in Proverbs 26:16. Here there is a resolution stated, and we should take verse 26 to heart. We don’t face our enemies alone. We have “the assembly” with us: The Holy Christian Church, the Communion of Saints. We share our faith with believers around the world, many of whom are praying for us and for our welfare even though we’re not aware of it. Consider the regular prayers of the church in worship. Don’t we always pray things like, “Bless all those who are suffering or are in need…,” and many other prayers like this? The Holy Spirit knows who these people are, even if we don’t. And there are times when we ourselves are just those people who are in need, attacked by the deceptions of the devil, the world, and even our own weak and foolish flesh. May the Lord God spare us from these troubles and enable us to endure. “When you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). And while this blessing washes over us and preserves us through the grace of God, may the wicked foe be exposed so that other Christians can benefit even from our hardships and from the devil’s attacks on us. Share your troubles so that the church can pray on your behalf and know that God’s love and protection tower over you like an iron umbrella, keeping watch over you from all of the storms the world can throw your way.
Pastor Timothy Smith