What does Proverbs 11:13 mean?
ESV: Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered.
NIV: A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret.
NASB: One who goes about as a slanderer reveals secrets, But one who is trustworthy conceals a matter.
CSB: A gossip goes around revealing a secret, but a trustworthy person keeps a confidence.
NLT: A gossip goes around telling secrets, but those who are trustworthy can keep a confidence.
KJV: A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter.
Scripture forcefully condemns gossip. A person who has been told a secret in confidence, but breaks that confidence by sharing the secret with others, is a gossip. So is the person who passes along information which is not theirs to share, or which they have no personal knowledge of. The Bible does not suggest there is never a time to share information—pastors and other counselors must sometimes share "secrets" in cases of abuse. However, they are also responsible for keeping the confidence of those they counsel in most cases.
Jeremiah condemns gossip by writing: "They bend their tongue like a bow; falsehood and not truth has grown strong in the land…Let everyone beware of his neighbor, and put no trust in any brother, for every brother is a deceiver, and every neighbor goes about as a slanderer" (Jeremiah 9:3–4). Romans 1:29 includes gossips in a list of those whose minds are debased, and Paul insists in 1 Timothy 3:11 that the wife of a deacon must not be a gossip.
The apostle James goes so far as to say. "If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless" (James 1:26).
Unlike a gossip who fails to keep a secret is the person who "keeps a thing covered" (Proverbs 11:13). He is described in verse 11 as "trustworthy in spirit." The best response to hearing scandalous, embarrassing, or personal information about others is to keep it to ourselves.
Proverbs 11:9–15 continues Solomon's wise sayings, mainly addressing the speech of the righteous and the speech of the wicked. The righteous person speaks wisely and causes others to rejoice and be blessed. In contrast, the wicked person speaks foolishly and causes trouble.
Many of the proverbs in this section deal with contrasts between those who are righteous and those who are wicked. Righteous people follow God's will, bring honor and blessing on themselves, and have hope. Evil people disobey God, bring trouble on others, are hated, and their lives lead to disaster.
This continues a long passage filled with Solomon's general, common-sense observations. As in chapter 10, Solomon presents a variety of contrasts. We see distinctions such as those between integrity and dishonesty, trust in wealth and trust in the Lord, wise and foolish talk, true riches and false riches, the blessing of the righteous and the harm caused by the wicked, and the respective rewards of the godly and those who are evil.
Proverbs is best understood in context with the books of Ecclesiastes and Job. In Proverbs, “wisdom” is given in short, simple, general terms. Ecclesiastes represents wisdom based on observation and experience. This often shows how the general principles of the book of Proverbs don’t apply in absolutely every circumstance. Job represents wisdom based on the experience of suffering and injustice. All three come to the conclusion that God does indeed know best, and the most sensible course of action is to follow His will.
Accessed 3/1/2024 3:35:33 AM
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