23As surely as rain blows in
from the north,
anger is caused
by cruel words.
24It's better to stay outside
on the roof of your house
than to live inside
with a nagging wife.
Some surprises are never good. Slander is among those. It’s unexpected, sudden and it hurts.
This two-verse proverb compares slander to an unexpected wind that brings in damaging rain, the kind that can ruin a crop.
One commentator points out that people in Israel expect the rain to come with a west wind, not a north wind. The farmer is not prepared for this surprise from the north. He expects a north wind to clear up the sky not put his crop at risk!
The comparison is strong and is a vivid reminder that words of slander are devastating.
Bible commentator, Bruce Waltke, mentions that the subtlety of the language implies that there is secrecy involved, as is frequently the case with disparagement.
Words that are whispered in secret about others are usually harmful. James speaks of the extent of the damage too easily caused by an uncontrolled tongue, and he too uses a great image from nature. He writes, “It takes only a spark to start a forest fire! The tongue is like a spark.” (James 3:5)
Do you feel resentment towards someone? Talk to the Lord about it, not a colleague, nor a neighbour. Do you find someone irritating? Tell Jesus, not a mutual friend. Did you hear something nasty about someone? Don’t repeat it to anyone. Go to the Lord.
Words can cause damage that can be difficult to repair. And the pain it brings is such that the writer of Proverbs says a person would be better off living on the corner of roof, perhaps where an unpleasant wind actually blows, than to fall victim to slander.
Whatever unkind thought or feeling we accumulate about others, let’s not pour them out like rain on our neighbours and friends but bring them to Jesus who can wash them away.
Lord of peace, help me always to hold my tongue and not slander another. Help me keep a pure heart and renew my thoughts! Teach me to speak kindly and with hope about others. I ask it humbly in the name of Christ. Amen.