Prov.30:10-17 — Calculating Our Words

This sermon was preached at Peace Hill Christian Fellowship on  June 17, 2012.  To listen to the audio, just click on this link – Prov 30B.


10 Do not slander a slave to his master, Or he will curse you and you will be found guilty.

11 There is a kind of man who curses his father and does not bless his mother.

12 There is a kind who is pure in his own eyes, yet is not washed from his filthiness.

13 There is a kind—oh how lofty are his eyes! and his eyelids are raised in arrogance.

14 There is a kind of man whose teeth are like swords and his jaw teeth like knives, to devour the afflicted from the earth and the needy from among men.

15 The leech has two daughters, “Give,” “Give.”

There are three things that will not be satisfied, Four that will not say, “Enough”16   (#1) Sheol, and the barren womb, (#2)  Earth that is never satisfied with water,  (#3)  And fire that never says, “Enough.”    17  (#4)  The eye that mocks a father and despises to obey a mother.   The ravens of the valley will pick it out, and the young eagles will eat it.


What is Slander?   Slander is one of those words – a legal term – which is quite easy to push off and deny.   A brief definition of slander from the dictionary says that slander is a matter of: “False and malicious statements”.  However, this does not really go far enough in defining what slander truly is and does.  After all, what do we mean when we say “False words”?  There are shades of false when it comes to our words.   I can say something that is true about “X”, and yet, which is calculated to create a negative impression.  In fact, we do tend to speak with this kind of “Calculated Malice”, with carefully measured words which create disdain or hatred or side-taking, while creating and maintaining an impression of our own innocence.

Since Jesus tells us that our words come out of the overflow of our hearts, we can redefine slander as: “Calculated Malicious words that come out of a bitter and angry heart, whose purpose is to create disdain or hatred for another, while maintaining our own innocence:

Whom Do We Slander?   Do we slander enemies?  Sure,   But more often we slander our family (the barbed words we use with one another, calculated to sound innocent, and yet which are character assassinations – stories we tell about one another in a particular light).  We often slander our friends – drawing up a negative character portrait of them when they disappoint us.  We slander coworkers.  We slander those who are in authority over us – slander characterizes most political discussions – though we are told to pray for our leaders.


Slander Feeds on Underlying, Evil Attitudes:

Vs.11 Slander Begins in The Home – Clearly this attitude is expressed first in the home.  There is a kind of person whose tendency is to speak with malice and to vilify their parents – vs.11.  Slanderous speech – malice and ungratefulness –  begins in the home with an unwillingness to bless or thank parents, or to remember love and faithfulness of one’s parents.  These attitudes, which for many persist into adulthood, are the seeds in the malicious heart that pours out slander.

Vs.12 Slander Survives on Self-Righteousness –  The slanderer speaks in a way calculated to maintain their innocence – to present themselves as the offended party.  He gauges his audience, looking for sympathy – careful not to say just enough to gain sympathy.  And, as with all lies, the more the slanderer repeats his lies – his slanderous point of view – the more he believes it.  He assumes and maintains his own innocence.

Vs.13 Slander Thrives on an Attitude of Disdain – We use slanderous, malicious speech about other people because we truly believe that they are unworthy of our consideration or respect.

Vs.14 Slander Feeds on an Attitude of Violence – Our malicious words are a form of violence – veiled hatred.  We have, as the passage puts it, jaws full of knives.  We stab and wound and attack – all under the disguise of harmless words.

Slander is an Appetite:  vs.15 – Slander and malicious words are a way of both gaining the approval of others and of having revenge – satisfaction against all who disappoint us.  Like the leeches 2 daughters it is never satisfied.

The proverbs drive this point home with the images in vs.16-17.  All four images are pictures of demanding and consuming.  Fire consumes land – water is consumed by the earth – death consumes our bodies – the barren womb demands and is consumed with longing.

But the forth and last image of the eye that mocks a father and despises to obey a mother is an image of the one being consumed.  Slander, which has its origin in one’s response to parents, is never satisfied, and ends up consuming one’s joy and one’s relationships.  The final image of the child who disdains and slanders his parents is that of death  (the image of a corpse being eaten by the vulture and the eagle – of hanging – of burial refused).

Reject Slander:  Reject Slander:   Vs.10 – There is evidence that these proverbs were written to the future leaders of Israel.  They are told –   Do not slander a slave to his master.  It is hard to imagine a more vulnerable target than a slave.  Yet, the Proverbist tells us that even the ruler who slanders the slave will be humbled and suffer correction.  This is a warning.


God is not mentioned in these verses – and yet, God is the backdrop against whom we are to understand Proverbs.  To see how we are called to respond we need to ask these three questions…

1) Who is God?  In regard to speaking, God is the one whose word about us is final.  God is the one who used his word to create all things -order all things and sustain all things.  God is the one who spoke his blessing on mankind at creation.  God will also judge all things – will speak the truth about all things and will pass sentence.  God is the one whose words alone carry weight and final authority and significance.

We are the image of God – made to reflect God.  How inappropriate is it that we should speak malice and hatred against the image of God.  Our words tend to have more in common with Satan – who is the accuser and the liar.  When we slander, we speak Satan’s language.

2) What is the Gospel?   The announcement of hope and salvation and God’s love is this:  God sees the calculated malice of our hearts – has heard our malicious words, and in response has spilled his blood in order to intercede for us.  God has spoken a word of forgiveness and blessing at the cross.  God has spoken blessing and worthiness over us – who were vile and guilty.  Rather than speaking the hatred and rejection we had earned by our calculating and malicious words – God has spoken forgiveness, acceptance, life and blessing to us through Christ’s death and resurrection.

3) What are We Being Asked to Do/ Believe?  We are being called to see slander for what it is.

* Begin by confessing and taking responsibility for calculated and malicious words, at least before God.   Face sin that is not only in your actions – but in your heart.

* Bring your malicious and evil words to the cross and call on God, who alone can change your heart through his Holy Spirit.  Ask for grace both to turn from malicious words, and for grace to speak blessing – faithful words – the kinds of words that God has spoken to you – though you have been, and continue to be, a guilty sinner.

* Practice gracious words.   Become thoughtful about how to speak blessing to your parents, children, siblings, friends.  Remember and speak about the ways and times family have blessed you.  Remember that every bad quality we speak about in others has a corresponding flip side that is a good quality.  Speak blessing on your leaders and bless those who mistreat and slander you.  Bless and do not curse. (Rom.12:14), and so become children of God in your words.

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