Atul Gawande, a well-known American author and medical doctor, released a book sometime ago in which he tells a story of various doctors descending upon endemic-stricken India in a race against time. A polio endemic was rapidly spreading. Due to the enormous population and geographical area that each doctor had to cover, time was of the essence in each case. No time for compassion. No time for chitchat. The doctor must be in and out—literally stick and move.
In a certain village, a Muslim woman refused the vaccine. The doctor insisted twice more to no avail. Pressed for time, he moved on without even a warning of the potential consequences of not being vaccinated. Shortly thereafter, this same woman was visited by a neighbor who asked her if she had seen the “white-coated men” with the vaccine. The woman seemed startled.
“What vaccine? There was a rumor that this was all a trick of the Hindus who were trying to poison our children. So, I refused it.” As she and her neighbor turned toward her little son, they could see that as he crawled his arms moved but his legs dragged behind—surefire indications of polio. He was ever to suffer the wounds of a whisperer.
Gossip has always been dangerous. Whether its content is true or not, its insidious power to destroy relationships stands virtually unparalleled. Solomon breathed a saying on these matters worthy of our theme at GYC 2013: Before Men and Angels.
The saying goes like this: “A perverse man sows strife, and a whisperer separates the best of friends.” While much of modern poetry emphasizes the repetition of sound, Hebrew poetry, especially in Psalms and Proverbs, emphasizes a repetition of thought. Often in the form of parallelism, the repetition is usually 2 lines in which the second line either repeats the same thought of the first line in different words, contrasts with the first line, or builds upon the first line. These are called synonymous, antithetical, and synthetic parallelisms, respectively.
Gossip has always been dangerous. Whether its content is true or not, its insidious power to destroy relationships stands virtually unparalleled.
Our proverb, found in Proverbs 16:28, happens to be a synonymous parallelism (at least according to my humble study and research). Knowing its form, we can conclude a few things about what Solomon was trying to get across to audience of his day.
1. Solomon sees a whisperer (line 1) and a perverse man (line 2) as one in the same. Perverse, meaning corrupt. Stubbornly rebellious against the right way.
2. Strife is the intention of the perverse man, since the verb is “sows.” No one accidentally sows apples, peaches, or wheat; it is an intentional act. So with the perverse man.
3. Even the closest relationships cannot always bear the weight of gossip. Gossip or whispering separates the best of friends.
4. The gossiper’s work is done quietly, behind closed doors, in the dark, as the term “whisperer” indicates.
5. And lastly, whispering leads to bickering, arguments, conflict, fighting, discord and even controversy.
As far as back as before time itself, we witness the divisiveness of a whisperer. When we go back to when Lucifer served Heaven as the light-bearer, he and Jesus were the best of friends. Yet, when Lucifer, out of jealousy and pride, turned into a whisperer, it separated the best of friends.
But not just Lucifer: a third of the angels. They had once loved and rejoiced in the service of heaven’s commander; they and Jesus were surely the best of friends, but they were separated because of a whisperer.
And at the beginning of the world, humanity and Jesus were the best of friends. Yet we became estranged from our Eden home and face-to-face communion with Jesus, before His incarnation, because of a whisperer.
As a result of Adam and Eve’s distrust of the goodness of God, humanity not only joined the rebellion against the government of God, but has continually suffered the wounds of a whisperer. Those who survive war’s sweeping away of thousands of lives still return from the battlefield with wounds seen and unseen because of a whisperer. Every genocide shocks the world with its carnage and insatiable hunger for hatred because of a whisperer. Children are shuffled in and out of the grasp of lustful brutes for virtually pennies because of a whisperer. Divorces rage all over the world, as common as rainstorms, because of a whisperer. We wait in brokenness before the coffins of our loved ones because of a whisperer.
We realize the full gravity of the situation at the sound of Jesus’ derelict cry, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?!” We cannot possibly entertain the notion that Jesus exaggerated or spoke purely from emotion as if He only felt forsaken. The Father actually separated from Jesus. And no one can argue with the idea that, from eternity past, the Father and Christ were the best of friends. Yet there was the light of heaven and the joy of earth hanging upon a cross, forsaken, because of a whisperer.
The cross of Jesus warns whisperers of all ages of the lengths to which one may have to go in order to undo the lies of a whisperer. Jesus did come down in order to save us and die for our sins, but also to silence the claims of Satan, the very first whisperer. One commentary on Luke 2 put it this way:
“In the light of the Savior’s life, the hearts of all, even from the Creator to the prince of darkness, are revealed. Satan has represented God as selfish and oppressive, as claiming all, and giving nothing, as requiring the service of His creatures for His own glory, and making no sacrifice for their good. But the gift of Christ reveals the Father’s heart. It testifies that the thoughts of God toward us are thoughts of peace and not of evil. It declares that while God’s hatred of sin is as strong as death, His love for the sinner is stronger than death…At the cross of Calvary, love and selfishness stood face to face. Here was their crowning manifestation.” (DA 57)
Here we see Jesus, by life and death, silencing the false claims of a whisperer. Though, at the resurrection, God will heal the wounds we have suffered because of a whisperer, Jesus’ will never heal. Many in the kingdom shall ask, “What are those scars in your hands, feet, and side?” Jesus will tell them, these are the wounds of a whisperer. Sometimes the wounds of gossip never heal.
Before men and angels, shall we perpetuate the words of a whisperer? Or shall we silence the false claims of a whisperer? GYC exists to inspire a generation to live such a life as Jesus’ before men and angels that the best of friends may no longer be separated because of a whisperer.
Innumerable souls abound about us, in our schools, workplaces, and neighborhoods with an earful of the whisperer. We must encourage all men and women of the world to do what is best in a situation of hearsay, and that is to go to the Source, to ask God Himself through His Word.
Here is our impetus for evangelism. Here is our urgency for preaching. Here is our passion for canvassing and Bible work. We are on a mission to heal the wounds of a whisperer, so that every soul may live with Jesus throughout eternity as the best of friends.
 PP pg. 37: “Leaving his place in the immediate presence of the Father, Lucifer went forth to diffuse the spirit of discontent among the angels. He worked with mysterious secrecy, and for a time concealed his real purpose under an appearance of reverence for God. He began to insinuate doubts concerning the laws that governed heavenly beings, intimating that though laws might be necessary for the inhabitants of the worlds, angels, being more exalted, needed no such restraint, for their own wisdom was a sufficient guide.”