In stanza 1, a complaint is made to God. A lament is not mere whinging or a slight upset, but rather a gut wrenching cry of anguish because no remedy can be seen. Stanza 2 tells us that false accusations are being made against the person. Like lion’s claws, these false accusations threaten the person. Stanza 3 is a plea to God to check the person’s heart for any sense that they may have somehow caused these false accusations or given their accusers cause to accuse them. Stanza 4 asks God to make a “firm but fair” judgement in the matter. Stanza 5 is a call to stop the culture of revenge and a plea for a new way forward that would be better for everyone in the community, where Christ Jesus “sets us free.”
False accusations are a vicious form of gossip. Gossip is a community killer – see James 3:5-10 and the Apostle Paul’s ‘what not to do’ lists. Gossip is like a drug that at first makes us feel good with that ‘high’ of knowing something about someone else, but the effect soon wears off. We need more and more. The old news doesn’t quite have the same edge as new news. Gotta get me some of that new news…
Gossip hurts people. The person gossiping is stuck in the lion’s claws just as much as the person being talked about. Stopping gossip requires a complete shift in the community’s thinking. It requires a desire to seek the real truth and to care about each other enough to know what the truth actually is. It requires justice. Can we make Jesus – aka “The Truth”- the heart of our communications?
If you have a gossip problem, you are not alone, but get help before gossip wrecks you and your community.
God of justice and truth we have a gossip problem. Teach us to use words that give life and not kill (Proverbs 18:21). Change how we speak to and of each other. Amen
The Rev’d Angela Rigby, Minister at Christ Church URC Tonbridge and St Johns Hill URC Sevenoaks