Exodus 20:16 “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.”
Proverbs 6:16–19 “There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.”
In the sixth chapter of Daniel we find that Darius was going to appoint Daniel over the whole kingdom because Daniel so distinguished himself above the other administrators in character. The other administrators tried to find fault with Daniel but could not because there was no corruption in him, he was trustworthy and not negligent. The reason I bring this out regarding Daniel is that he was a man of truth and influence. This is what we need today in our societies: men and women of influence who surround men and women of power – like David and Darius.
The bottom line is that King Darius wrote to all the peoples, nations and men of every language throughout the land issuing a decree that people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel.
We should we at all times and under all circumstances tell the truth to all men who ask anything of you? I do not believe so. We can be silent.
Rahab lied to protect the lives of two spies, but Rahab’s faith that James singled her out for as an example of vital faith, was not in that she lied to protect them, but that she received them as God’s messengers and sent them out another way than they came in. (James 2:24-25)
Abraham and then later his son Isaac lied about their wives to the kings in order to avoid murder and rape, and Scripture does not condemn them for lying, although they were shamed by God for lying.
It was Churchill who said during the time of war that the truth is so important it must be guarded by a bodyguard of lies. Interesting…
This Commandment is against two things: First, slandering our neighbor. Like someone once said, “The scorpion carries his poison in his tail, the slanderer carries his poison on his tongue.” Perhaps the best definition of slandering would be to unjustly report things about others in order to do them harm. Holiness will not keep us from being slander as we see with the apostle Paul as well as Jesus Himself, but we can learn from them how to respond.
This commandment forbids the giving of false testimony and it is especially appropriate in the testimony given by witnesses in courts of law. This commandment not only forbids straightforward lying and slander, but also telling the truth in order to do harm or get revenge.
Another question that does arise with this commandment is: What should be our response to those that do slander and falsely accuse us? First, we labor to make a sanctified use of it. For example, Shimei cursed David and when Abishai wanted to put him to death David forbade him to do so, and said “If he is cursing because the Lord said to him, ‘Curse David,’ who can ask, ‘Why you do you do this?’ In other words, if we are falsely accused we first need to see if there is any unrepentant sin that we need to deal with. If there is then we need to deal with it, but if we are falsely accused God will take care of it.
Psalm 37:6 “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.” It is God who can bring forth our righteousness as the light.
This commandment also brings out that because we should not slander or falsely accuse others, we should be a favorable witness for the innocent and stand up in their defense. How true it is that a man may wrong another by silence as by slander; when he knows him to be wrongfully accused, yet does not speak in his behalf.
We see Peter standing up for the other apostles when they were slandered. They were accused of being drunk after being filled with the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:15 “These men are not drunk, as you suppose.”
Jonathan knowing David to be a worthy man knew that all the things that his father Saul said of David were slanderous and so Jonathan vindicated David by being a truthful witness for David. 1 Samuel 19:4-5 “Jonathan spoke well of David to Saul his father and said to him, ‘Let not the King do wrong to his servant David; he has not wronged you, and what he has done has benefited you greatly.’”
We are here to extend the kingdom of God and the kingdom of God consists of that which is just, right and true.