“The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man’s inmost parts.”
— Proverbs 18:8 (NIV)
“A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends.”
— Proverbs 16:28 (NIV)
It was the perfect setup―described in Judges, chapter 3. Ehud gets permission to have an audience with Eglon, King of Moab, on a request to present tribute to him. After the presentation, he whispers that he has a secret message for the king, a word from God. Eglon clears the room, and Ehud pulls a hidden dagger from his clothing and does him in. Inscribed on the handle of the dagger were the letters G-O-S-S-I-P.
The above story is true but for the last sentence. Actually, though, the moniker would have been very appropriate. Ask anyone who’s been “done in” by the gossipy tongue of another. The weapon comes into the room unseen. It swiftly and lethally assassinates reputations, relationships, and character. It’s the “hidden dagger” in human relationships.
Gossip is any talk about another which, when heard, results in undeserved injury. Reporting the truth that Joe Doaks has just robbed your home is not gossip, and the injury caused to Job Doaks is well deserved. Passing along the unchecked rumor that Mary Doaks is having an affair with her boss is gossip. The injury caused to Mary, her reputation, her marriage, and her aura of trust is both undeserved and deadly―and the gossip is responsible for it.
When Proverbs says that gossip “goes down to a man’s inmost parts,” it means that it doesn’t just bounce harmlessly off the person like the cutting remarks made in jest at the Rotary Club roast. The evil words lodge deeply inside the person like Ehud’s dagger, so deeply that Judges says King Eglon’s flesh covered it completely. The blade went to his heart.
Wisdom Principle 12: Don’t take gossip lightly. Far more than harmless chatter, it’s a deadly dagger to the heart.
Gossip is equally unsavory because of the friends it keeps. It is the companion of dissension, quarrels, and disloyalty. Its divisive potential is so lethal that it even can separate “close friends” (Proverbs 16:28). Quarrels and arguments are fueled by gossip. “Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down” (Proverbs 26:20). Disloyalty is founded on gossip as the evil speaker “. . . betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret” (Proverbs 11:13).
Wisdom Principle 13: Gossip’s companions are worse than urban gang bangers―Faction, Quarrel and Betrayal are their names.