Bible Society of South Africa

The havoc that gossip can create – 10 June 2022

By Ben Fourie

Bible text(s)

9and said, “Why do you listen to people who say that I am trying to harm you?

1 Samuel 24:9GNBOpen in Bible reader

In the Bible, we not only find words from God, but in numerous places also words that people spoke. In the Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, the Gospels and almost every book of the Bible, we read about the lives of people through the words they spoke. Beautiful passages like Proverbs 16:24: “Kind words are like honey – sweet to the taste and good for your health,” or Proverbs 15:1: “A gentle answer quietens anger, but a harsh one stirs it up.” All words that we say affect those around us, for better or for worse.

In this chapter from the book of Samuel, we find the well-known story of how Saul was relieving himself in a cave when David sneaked up on him and cut off part of his outer garment without harming Saul physically. When Saul eventually left the cave, David followed him at a distance and called out to him. His words were those of our verse for the day. David asked Saul why he believed the gossip of David’s enemies instead of trusting David’s loyalty to him. This gossip or untruth strained the relationship between Saul and David to the point where Saul was trying to kill David. Very few things in life are so damaging for relationships between people than untruths or gossip. Many years ago, Jan Lion-Cachet wrote a book about the seven deadly sins. One story is called “Die Praatduiwel”. Translated it would be something like “The gossip Devil”. In this story, the gossip of a group of people led indirectly to the death of a young man.

There is another story about a man who visited his rabbi and told him that his gossip about another man was very damaging to that person’s life. He wanted the rabbi to advise him how to rectify this great sin. The rabbi asked him bring a pillow stuffed with feathers. The pillow was cut open and the feathers scattered in all directions by the wind. The rabbi then told him to gather all the feathers. “But that is impossible,” the man cried. Just as impossible as it would be to take back the untruth that you spread all over town, the rabbi told him. Let us be very careful about what we say about someone else, it might cause irreparable damage, not only to the subject of our gossip, but to our own souls as well.

Prayer: Please Lord, help us not to use words that may damage the life of another person for ever. Amen

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