PROVERBS 11: 13 -15
"A FAITHFUL SPIRIT"
By Elie Nessim
Chapter 11; we've now reached verse 13. Usually you'll find that there is a connection with either the preceding verse, or the preceding verses. In verse 12, we read: "He who is devoid of wisdom, despises his neighbour, but a man of understanding holds his peace." Now, verse 12 leads directly into verse 13: "A tale bearer reveals secrets, but he who is of a faithful spirit, conceals a matter. " The one that is "devoid of wisdom and despises his neighbour, " that is the kind of person that is the talebearer; the one that doesn't care about spreading all kinds of stories about other people. We saw last week: "A man of understanding holds his peace." He's quiet. He may have heard something, but he'll wait; he'll digest it; he'll wait for further information. He will realize that appearances can be deceptive.
Incidentally, this is some humorous incident that happened that was reported in the Reader's Digest. A lady was asked by her neighbour to take care of her neighbour's poodle. This lady lived by the railway tracks. The poodle's name was 'Choo-Choo'. Well, she agreed to look after the poodle called Choo-Choo, but one day the poodle got away and went running down the railway tracks. Here was this lady rushing after it saying, "Choo-Choo, Choo-Choo," running along the railway tracks. Now if people hadn't known the true circumstances, they would have thought that she had lost her senses; that she thought that she was a train, running along the railway tracks and shouting out the poodle's name. So you see, appearances can be very deceptive.
That's what the Bible means, "A man of understanding holds his peace." He says, "Wait a minute, I don't have the full picture. It looks cut and dried; it looks black and white, but there is more to this than meets the eye." So we come to verse 13: "A tale-bearer reveals secrets." He is a person who is devoid of wisdom. He doesn't bide his time; he doesn't think further into the matter. The word for 'tale-bearer' means peddler, one who is a peddler; one who sells things at a bargain; a busybody, or a mischief-maker. This is forbidden in the Law of Moses. GOD says in the Book of Leviticus: "You shall not go up and down as a tale-bearer among your people." Gossips; that's what they are like. And it wasn't something that was unknown, even in the time of the Second Temple, because when we look at 2nd Thessalonians, Chapter 3, we find, there too, that there were people like that. And do you know there were some of them that were Believers that were doing this? It's not something that is unknown even in the House of GOD. 2 Thessalonians, 3, verse 10: "For even when we were with you, we commanded you this, if anyone will not work, neither shall he eat For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all but are busybodies. Now those who are such, we command and exhort through our LORD, YESHUA HaMashiach, that they work in quietness and eat their own bread." Those people in Thessalonica, those Believers there, thought that Messiah was coming back any moment and therefore, they thought, "Well, if the LORD is coming back any moment it's no use me getting a job. He's going to come soon anyway." So they just walked around waiting for the LORD to come. And the Bible says here, if they don't get a job, they don't deserve to eat either. It's for those who could get work and don't. I'm not talking of those who cannot get work for various reasons.
So we see here, even amongst the Believers in Thessalonica, there were those that were going around talking and gossiping and so on. The Bible says: "A tale bearer reveals secrets;" he betrays confidences. That is a false friend. "Don't tell anybody else," and then they go to somebody else and they say, "Don't tell anybody else," and so it goes on. Betraying confidences, in verse 12 we read that "A man of understanding holds his peace." David had trouble from this; we find in Psalm 41, he mentions people who came to see when he was not well. But they weren't coming really, to offer him sympathy. They were coming to collect material that they could go and gossip to other people. Psalm 41, verse 5: "My enemies speak evil of me; "When will he die and his name perish?" And he comes to see me, he speaks vain words. His heart gathers iniquity to itself. When he goes out, he tells it.” Just coming, not to offer true brotherly sympathy, but to see what else they can get by way of juicy information to spread around.
The definition of gossip, I read somewhere, is "a portrait developed and enlarged by those who are in the dark." That's a good definition of gossip. But then the second half of verse 13: "But he who is of a faithful spirit, conceals a matter. " One who can keep quiet; who can zip the lip as they say. The one who doesn't let it all out. In John, Chapter 8, the LORD, YESHUA was confronted. You know the story very well; it is a touching story. Confronted by these very righteous looking people, Scribes and Pharisees. John 8, verses 3 to 6: "Then the Scribes and Pharisees brought to him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said to him, "Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery in the very act Now Moses in the Law commanded us that such should be stoned But what do you say?" This they said testing Him that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But YESHUA stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger as though He did not hear.”
Here are these people; they seem to be the paragons of virtue, so pious; so righteous outwardly; everybody, when they saw them, said, "Shalom rabbi," to these people. These were the ones that were outwardly righteous and impeccable in their behaviour and in their religious observance. But they were not coming to get justice. They were coming to trap the LORD, YESHUA.
YESHUA stooped down and wrote on the ground. He was all for sparing them the embarrassment of exposing them. That's what it was. He had His answer; He knew very well what the Law said, that if people are caught in adultery, both of them should die. But these people had let the man go. They just brought the woman. They were already implicated. That's why He stooped on the ground just giving them a chance to back off. But, we read, they continued asking Him. "So He raised Himself up and said to them, "He who is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone.” He read them. He knew what they had done in the past.
Earlier on, in John, we read that when He spoke to the woman by the well, He said, "Go and bring your husband and I'll give you living water." She said, "I don't have a husband." He said, "You have said well, you have had five husbands."" He knew people. And these people knew that He could blow the whistle on them. So, again, "He stooped down and wrote on the ground" This time they did back off We read, "Those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest, even to the last" Their own conscience was shouting at them and telling them, "You have done it, if not in deed, in the intention." Because the LORD, YESHUA had already been teaching, 'it's enough to commit it in the heart, and you're already guilty of it.' They went out. See how the LORD spared that woman? There she was, the whole crowd was there that the LORD YESHUA was teaching. You could have heard a pin drop. Finally they had all drifted away and there, she was, trembling; her eyes to the ground; tears, probably. "And He said, "Where are your accusers? Has no one condemned you?" "No man, LORD." "Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more. ''''
That was the matchless love and faithfulness of Messiah. The One who said, "Neither do I condemn you, " was the very One who took her condemnation on Himself, not long afterwards - on the tree. He could say that, because, as He said, "The Son of Man did not come into the world to condemn the world, but that the world, through Him, might be saved" "I will not condemn you," He said. "Moses will, all in due time, ‘The words that you have spoken, they will condemn you at the last day,’ but right now, He had not come to condemn you; He had come to save. So we see what is meant by: "He who is of a faithful spirit conceals the matter. " He covered over her shame. He sent her away giving her an opportunity to start over and turn over a new leaf He gave the other people a chance to get away with it. They backed off, but not without shame. So it's one who can keep quiet~ one who sees beyond the outward appearance. That is the one of' a faithful spirit.' "He conceals a matter, " he covers the shame of the person, as far as he can and as far as is lawful. That's what we're all meant to be. There is so much harm done by wagging tongues. If we learn to do what Noah's sons did~ remember Noah, after the flood, planted a vineyard. He drank of the wine, and he was drunk. It's not entirely Noah's fault, because new wine is deceptive. We don't realize how powerful it is. Ernest Lloyd told me himself, that his friend offered him a glass of cider back in the old country. He knocked it back, as they say, and the whole room began to go around. It was more powerful than he realized; there was alcohol in that cider and he didn't know it. He could hardly keep from falling over; he was so dizzy from the immediate effects of that cider. So, it was probably the same with Noah. He didn't realize how powerful that wine was. And he was in his tent; he was not decently covered in his tent, but he was in his tent.
One of his sons, Ham, was the name, walked in and saw his father and blabbed it to his brother. "Do you want to see something?" What did his brothers do? They took a garment and they put it on their shoulders, and they walked backwards into the tent and let the garment cover their father, so that their faces were in the opposite direction, and did not see the shame and the nakedness of their father. There is the picture: "He who is of a faithful spirit conceals a matter. "
Have you found something out that is a shame to your friend; to your neighbour; to your acquaintance~ to your relative? Cover the shame. Don't spread it around. Hide it. Hide it as much as is lawful, unless you are called to a Court of Law and you are required under oath to speak up. Do what you can to hide the shame and the embarrassment from your friend, or whatever.
Jeremiah, the prophet, was called by King Zedekiah. You'll find the incident in Chapter 38 of his Book. He was called by Zedekiah for a secret consultation. "Tell me," said Zedekiah to Jeremiah, "what is GOD's Word on our future?" Jeremiah said, "It's all over, your Majesty. It's all over, unless you surrender to the Babylonians, the city is going to be destroyed. You are going to be taken captive; your wives are going to be given to the enemy. The Temple is going to be burned to the ground." Zedekiah then told Jeremiah, (that's Chapter 38, verses 24 though 27). He said, ‘Now don't let anybody know about this. If any of the princes come to you and ask you, "Why was the King speaking to you?" Tell them, I just asked the King not to put me back in the dungeon.’ And that was true. ‘Don’t tell them more than that. So when the princes did come to Jeremiah, he just repeated it and he protected the King from further trouble from his princes.
"He who is of a faithful spirit conceals a matter." The late Menachem Begin was like that. He was taking a lot of flak. "What are you doing to bring these Ethiopian Jews to Israel?" He wouldn't say, and of course, he was criticized in public, in the press, everywhere. People were throwing brickbats at him. "He is doing nothing!" But the truth was, he was doing a whole lot behind the scenes and it was only when, I think it was Mr. Peres, who blew the cover that this rescue effort was aborted. He was making secret negotiations, and he was bringing Ethiopian Jews into Israel, but he knew very well that if it went public, the whole thing would flop. And it did for a number of years because someone had a loose tongue. Menachem Begin had a more faithful spirit. He hid the matter, because he realized it was better for him to be criticized and to be misjudged than for these poor people to be stranded in Ethiopia.
We go on to the next verse, verse 14: "Where there's no counsel, the people fall But in the multitude of counselors, there is safety." Now, that means brotherly guidance; wise advice; wise policy. GOD speaks of Himself as being "Wonderful in counsel" That's found in Isaiah, Chapter 28. GOD is wonderful in counsel, but where there is no counsel, the people fall. And the counsel we are talking about here is of the right kind, wise counsel, that is. If there is no wise, godly counsel, the people fall. We have anarchy. Everybody does that which is right in their own eyes, as in the days of the Judges. That's why we need counsel. And it is the folly of our day that our leaders think anything connected with religion must be ruled out of order. So they will have nothing to do with the Bible, or with its standards. The result is we have anarchy; growing anarchy in our time. It is the wisdom of our leaders to recognize that it is "righteousness that exalts a nation." That righteousness must be the righteousness, which GOD approves of. Well, ''where there is no counsel, the people fall." We need to pray for our authorities that they will be wise.
"But in a multitude of counselors, there is safety." That is, those who are competent to guide; to guard and to deliver. There is safety in numbers. If you have a multitude of counselors, they're not all going to be agreed, that's for sure. There'll be some who will say, "Let's do this." There'll be some others that will say, "Let's do that." But you know, even those people that contradict each other, provide the necessary checks and balances, so that we are able to weigh up the pros and the cons. We are able to say, "Now let's see if there is any merit in this side. Let's see if there is any merit in that side."
Counselors. Messiah's Name is: "Wonderful, Counselor." "In the multitude of counselors…” Ecclesiastes, Chapter 4, verses 9 and 10; here is an echo of this, and then we'll go to Ezekiel, Chapter 21. First of all, Ecclesiastes, Chapter 4, verses 9 and 10: "Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion, but woe to him who is alone when he falls for he has no one to help him up." That's why I disagree when Lionel thinks his ministry is over. "Two are better than one." What would I do without him?