Proverbs 16:28

Verse of the Day Devotion Proverbs 16:28

“A perverse man spreads strife, and a slanderer separates intimate friends.” – Proverbs 16:28  

Solomon, the author of Proverbs, is writing here regarding causing strife. This happens so much in this world. I have experienced this multiple times in work environments where someone who desires to move up will say things about others that are detrimental to their reputations so that they can possibly take over their position. And there are many other examples of this idea, where people are hurt by the words of another, and this results in divisiveness.

Lets start with the verse above our focus verse. “A worthless man digs up evil, While his words are as a scorching fire.” Proverbs 16:27. The Hebrew word here for worthless is belı̂ya‛al which has the idea of someone who is wicked and Godless. Going back to the verse, a wicked and Godless man works to dig up evil about a person. Any bad thing they hear about someone they will pass around, letting as many people know as possible. The analogy is a wicked man who labors much to bring about an evil purpose, as the quarryman does to dig up stones. The sense is that for the ungodly man, the evil he casually finds is not enough to satisfy his desire, therefore he digs around to pursue any evil he can come up with. And when he digs up evil, he cannot keep it to himself. He must spread it from his lips as if it were a burning fire. What he finds he spreads, like a scorching fire.  And this simile speaks of the devastating effect these words can have on that person.

Now, moving on to our focus verse, “A perverse man spreads strife, And a slanderer separates intimate friends.” Proverbs 16:28. The idea of this word perverse is a deliberate and obstinate desire to behave in a way that is unreasonable or unacceptable, often despite possible consequences.  Solomon states that a perverse person spreads strife through the method of tale-bearing of gossiping. They find out something bad about someone and their desire is to let people know what this person said or did, without any thought about the affect it may have on that person.  It is like a whisperer who goes amount secretly telling people what they know.  A modern word for this activity is gossiping, which is unconstrained conversations or reports about other people, typically involving information which the gossiper has incomplete information on. And the information spread is predominately malicious, misrepresenting the truth.  This can also be deemed as slander, which our focus verse states can cause intimate friendships to end, which is division.  And Paul had harsh words for those who cause division. “Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them. For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting.” Romans 16:17-18.

I encourage everyone to watch out that they do not find themselves spreading words that could be hurtful to anyone or cause any form of division between people. This is not love, and we need to avoid such activities. Paul, again, wrote regarding gossip, “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Ephesians 4:29.  Our speech should provide encouragement to all, consolation where needed, and joy to all who hear it.  It must be words that bring us together and not divide us. It should help people understand what Christianity is all about and should provide reasons for the unsaved to desire and ultimately accept the salvation Jesus provided. This is what God has called us to do.  Let us not deviate from the good speech that helps people in their walk, causing them to question the reality of Christianity and possibly abandoning belief in Christ altogether.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.