Breakfast with Solomon - Proverbs 18:8
"The words of a whisperer are like dainty morsels, and they go down into the innermost parts of the body"
Solomon is warning us about a kind of person who will influence you in ways that you do not see. His influence is hidden and is usually eagerly wanted. Be careful when you are in the presence of someone who always has dirt to dish on others.
We need to be wary of this type of person and the information that they are peddling. We also have to be aware of its impact upon us. It goes down to the depth of our being; largely unfiltered. We also have to be on guard of becoming this kind of person ourselves.
This is the Hebrew word ragan, which means to murmur, whisper, to criticize, to grumble. Clearly the intent of this proverb is to point out the problem of the seductive call of gossip and the disgruntled person. What they have to say is so incredibly tempting that we all tend to just suck in what they say -- without analysis, without stopping them, without realizing the emotionally-laden poison that their comments are.
This is the Hebrew word laham, which means "bits greedily swallowed." (According to the NASB Hebrew and Greek Lexicon) Notice how the tone of the proverb in the original is clearly darker and more clearly instructive about resisting temptation.
Solomon is really saying that a person needs to realize that we all want to listen to the tales of woe that the grumbler tells. We are naturally inclined to bad news and love what the gossip says because it is so negative. Solomon is saying to us that we must be very careful because our natural defenses are so easily penetrated by this type of behavior and information.
The danger is that we receive the information so uncritically and are influenced by it. The people who are railed against are not given a fair counterbalance. We do not usually hold in abeyance our judgments in regard to the object of disdain. Solomon is saying that the gossip and the grumbler influence you in ways that you might not have expected.
and they go down into the innermost parts of the body
This is the Hebrew word cheder, which means bedroom, chamber room, inner room. Clearly the idea is that the information from the grumbler, the gossip, the slanderer, the bearer of negative news immediately gets taken to the deepest parts of us. It begins to have influence almost immediately in how we treat people, in how we make decisions, and how we interact with the people and comments that we have heard.
This is very interesting in that it is an ancient warning to realize that you are being influenced to not be objective. When people are known for their negative news, then we should be wary of them. Solomon is not encouraging that this type of information can be effectively filtered. Clearly he is saying we need to avoid these types of people and their information. I think he would also say we need to be very careful of the type of news that is mostly negative and oriented to cast a negative image of people, companies, and things because it fits this type of information that moves to the innermost parts of our soul and begins to influence immediately.
There is an interesting angle that says that Solomon is not completely condemning this practice but stating its power. If this is true, then he is suggesting that this is a powerful weapon in the battle for influence in people's lives. This seems highly unlikely because this verse is set in the midst of verses about fools, sloths, etc. He clearly seems to be warning how difficult it will be to resist the grumbler, the gossip, the negative whisperer. YOU ARE BEING INFLUENCED BY WHAT THEY SAY. Realize that their information is skewed and overly injected with emotion. They are not giving you objective information, and this information will cause you (unless you work really hard to stay objective) to react to the person or company in different ways.
The more the truth of this proverb dawns on me, the more it is easy to see how our whole culture is dueling negative news. Who can use this principle first, loudest, and longest? Be careful – realize the seduction that is taking place. Stay objective. What you are hearing is only one side of the story. There is another side.