Proverbs 25:23

ESV The north wind brings forth rain, and a backbiting tongue, angry looks.
NIV Like a north wind that brings unexpected rain is a sly tongue—which provokes a horrified look.
NASB The north wind brings rain, And a gossiping tongue brings an angry face.
CSB The north wind produces rain, and a backbiting tongue, angry looks.
NLT As surely as a north wind brings rain, so a gossiping tongue causes anger!
KJV The north wind driveth away rain: so doth an angry countenance a backbiting tongue.
NKJV The north wind brings forth rain, And a backbiting tongue an angry countenance.

What does Proverbs 25:23 mean?

All proverbs are general statements, rather than absolute claims. This teaching refers to the fact that weather usually comes in patterns: north winds mean rain. Of course, an earlier proverb (Proverbs 25:14) noted that rain clouds might not make good on their promise. In the same way—in general, but not in every case—speaking about others with ill intent leads to angry responses. The exact Hebrew phrase used here implies something deceptive, secretive, or slanderous. Cutting others down with gossip and criticism damages one's own reputation.

These verbal sins, referred to as slander, backbiting, gossip, and so forth, are condemned in many Scriptures. Paul denounced those who rejected nature's witness to God, the Creator. He writes that "God gave them up to dishonorable passions" (Romans 1:26) and "to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done" (Romans 1:28). He describes them as full of "all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice…envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless" (Romans 1:29–31).

A Christian tempted to defame others should recall that slander appears in these lists of sins. The apostle Peter commanded his readers to "put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander" (1 Peter 2:1). He indicated that putting those sins away was necessary for spiritual growth (1 Peter 2:2).
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