This Week's Focus Passage

Proverbs 19:5, 9 ‘A false witness shall not be unpunished.’

Proverbs 19:5, 9

A false witness shall not be unpunished.’

Repetition, repetition, repetition; is that not the way of learning? We were taught that from our youth, weren’t we? How often in classes did we not go over the same material again and again until we had it stored in our hard drives (a conspicuous anachronism)? There is an old Latin saying making the very same point. It is repetitio mater studiorum which translates into ‘Repetition is the mother of all learning.’ This has “been boldly extended by one American author, salesman, and motivational speaker by the name of Hilary Hinton (Zig) Ziglar into, ‘Repetition is the mother of learning, the father of action, which makes it the architect of accomplishment.’ He evidently much preferred being called ‘Zig’ than Hilary Hinton, which is quite understandable. But the point is the effective nature of the use of repetition in the cause of learning.

We have before us, in Proverbs 19, an instance of inspired poetry utilizing the principle of repetition. Verses five and nine each say the same thing; A false witness shall not be unpunished, though with slightly differing conclusions. The first instance concludes with, And he that uttereth lies shall not escape, while the conclusion of the second instance varies just a little, And he that uttereth lies shall perish. Now, on the surface, these two conclusions, it may be argued, do not really vary at all. However, in our penal system, if that is an honest description any longer, there is a great difference between not escaping and perishing. In point of fact, may it not readily define the issue between incarceration and capital punishment?

But let us, in the first place, consider the major premise, namely, that A false witness shall not go unpunished. The minor premises are then he that uttereth lies shall not escape and he that uttereth lies shall perish. There are those that may seem to have been kept from perishing, but God the Holy Spirit insists that they shall not escape.

“The warning against the sin of lying in a previous text (Proverbs 19:5) is again repeated, showing the seriousness of the truth God intends to be received. Fear of eternal hell and fear of God’s chastening hand in this world ought to restrain a man from ever uttering a lie, but an even greater and more powerful force than fear is love to the truth itself. A man is loath to do wrong to that which he loves. Reader, examine yourself to know if you have heard and been taught by Christ, as the truth is in Jesus (Eph. 4:21). All lying will then be far from you.”—Robert Jones [not Bob Jones].

Remember the account of Naboth’s vineyard that was desired by Ahab; 1 Kings 21:1-18. Ahab was crying on his bed because Naboth would not sell him his vineyard. Jezebel took control of the matter and plotted Naboth’s death using false witnesses. Consider the end of the actual perpetrator of these lies that brought about the death of Naboth. Yes, it was these two false witnesses but who suborned them to perform this foul deed? It was Jezebel. And did she go unpunished? Not at all. After Ahab had taken possession of Naboth’s vineyard, the word of Jehovah came to Elijah the Tishbite telling him to meet with Ahab who was even then in the vineyard of Naboth where he had gone down to take possession of it. Hear the word of God to Ahab in 1 Kings 21:19.

Thus saith Jehovah, Hast thou killed, and also taken possession? And thou shalt speak unto him, saying, Thus saith Jehovah, In the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick thy blood, even thine. And at verse 23:

And of Jezebel also spake Jehovah, saying, The dogs shall eat Jezebel by the rampart of Jezreel.

These pronouncements, being spoken by Jehovah, certainly came to fruition. We may read of Ahab’s death in battle when a certain man drew his bow at a venture and it smote Ahab between the joints of his armor. They later washed his chariot by the pool of Samaria; and the dogs licked up his blood. And Jezebel, the prime mover of the witnesses that spoke falsely against Naboth, was found out later by Jehu looking out her window at him; he called upon some eunuchs to throw her down from the window, which they did. When Jehu commanded them a little later to bury her for she was the daughter of a king, they returned to where she had fallen to find ‘no more of her than the skull, and the feet, and the palms of her hands. When they told Jehu, he said,

This is the word of Jehovah which he spake by his servant Elijah the Tishbite, saying, In the portion of Jezreel shall the dogs eat the flesh of Jezebel.

Thus was this condign punishment meted out to the one behind the two false witnesses. We learn that being complicit in bearing false witness is as evil as the deed itself.

Have you ever considered the plight of those false witnesses who were complicit in the condemnation of the Christ? How will it fare with them in the judgment? Only if they are among those for whom Christ prayed Father, forgive them for they know not what they do, will it go well.If He was praying for them, it was because He was dying for them.

Lying is so natural to mankind, is it not? We may read in Jeremiah, ‘Thus men teach their tongues to speak lies, Jeremiah 9:5. This has followed Jeremiah’s lament over the children of Israel, how they ‘bend their tongue, as it were, their bow, for falsehood; and they are grown strong in the land, but not for truth.’ He seems to weep over the fact that they have forsaken the law of their God, to not bear false witness. Thus ‘O Henry’ [Matthew] has also written: “Those that will take a liberty to tell lies in discourse are in a fair way to be guilty of the greater wickedness of false witness-bearing, whenever they are tempted to it, though they seemed to detest it.” And in the same context, he said further:

“Here is a repetition of what was said before (v. 5), for we have need to be again and again warned of the danger of the sin of lying and false-witness-bearing, since nothing is of more fatal consequence. An addition to it in one word; there it was said, He that speaks lies shall not escape, and intimated that he shall be punished. Here it is said, His punishment shall be such as shall be his destruction: he shall perish; the lies he forged against others will be his own ruin. It is a damning destroying sin.”

David Farmer, elder

Fellowship Bible Church


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