Slander

FFF 14:8 (Oct 1968)

Slander

Leslie S. Rainey

Psalm 7:1 - 17

In the course of Christian experience there are occasions when the man after God’s own heart is subject to slander. In the days of David it was certainly true as the Psalmist depicts. One expects to meet it in this lawless age, but how sad when it is tolerated and even engaged in among the people of God.

One thing we are persuaded of is that slander is devilish, and the characteristic of the “father of lies.” In the oldest book of the Bible, Satan is seen marking out Job and slanderously charging him with an ulterior motive in serving God. So it is in the Psalm before us when Cush seeks to undermine the testimony of David.

The slanderer is associated with the person “that hath an high look” and a “proud heart” (Psa. 101:5). It is like the colour scarlet, double dyed; it consists of hatred in the heart and an untruth on the tongue. Slander is listed as one of the four cardinal sins and is called the “third tongue” because it slays three people — “the speaker, the spoken to, and the spoken of.” It is worse than the criminal offence of stealing money, because it can never be made good, while money can be returned. The reputation of a man may be savagely shattered by an evil tongue. Thus men of honour will supremely value a good man, valiantly defend a fine reputation, and scornfully silence all unproved rumours. It takes a lifetime to build a reputation and yet some would destroy it in a few hours. A man’s name is so precious that the person who slanders it should be loathed. We should shun a slanderer as we do a rattlesnake or a deadly plague.

How necessary to follow the example of David who appealed to God with a conscience void of offence in the matter! David declared not that he is without sin, but that he is falsely accused (vv. 3-5). May God deliver us from acting as Ziba did towards Mephibosheth (2 Sam. 19:27), and serve God “with reverence and godly fear.”

Another thing about slander is, it brings division. It is the work of the Evil One to scatter and separate the children of God. We play into the devil’s hands and become an accomplice in his schemes when we fail to act righteously in a matter spoken or suggested which undermines the testimony of a fellow Christian. Only recently in visiting various Islands of the Sea, we have seen the awful damage caused by slander and the far reaching effect. “A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city” (Prov. 18:19).

Some one has said, “Slander is perhaps the only vice which no circumstances can alleviate as well as being one which we are most congenial in concealing from ourselves. Another has said, “Slander is a poison which extinguishes virtue, both in the slanderer and in the person who listens to it; so that a single calumny may prove fatal to an indefinite number of souls; since it not only kills those who circulate it, but also those who do not reject it.” Said Basater, “Close thine ear against him that would open his mouth secretly against another. If thou receivest not his words, they fly back and wound the reporter; if thou dost receive them, they fly forward and wound the receiver.” “When a mean wretch cannot vie with another in virtue, out of his wickedness he begins to slander. The envious wretch will slander the virtuous man when he is absent, but when brought face to face, his loquacious tongue becomes dumb.”

What then can be done in the midst of such conditions prevalent in Christian circles? Thank God we can be delivered from such wicked work. Learn the lesson of Psalm 7. Even though false accusation is grievous to bear and often is the lot of the Christian, we can do as David did, go to God about the matter. He is still the judge among His people and His law of retribution works with marvellous exactness and severity. “He made a pit, and digged it, and is fallen into the ditch which he made. His mischief shall return upon his own head, and his violent dealing shall come down upon his own pate” (vv. 15, 16).

Meanwhile we should, upon hearing something that has been perhaps perverted, twisted and added to, ask ourselves: “Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?” Or again, remember the maxim: “The tattler who tattles to you will tattle about you; don’t listen in.”

May God deliver us then from being tools of the devil and in spite of trying circumstances seek to preserve a “conscience void of offence towards God and towards men,” and in this present evil age, glorify God, in practice (v. 8) and in praise (v.17).