Their Problems And Ours
EasyEnglish Bible Studies that show that God is sufficient whatever the problem
David: The Problem Of *Slander
by Raymond Brown, M.A., M.Th., Ph.D.
translated into EasyEnglish by Mary Read
A word list at the end explains words with a *star by them.
(Slander is when people say evil things that are false against someone.)
The Bible is a wonderful book. It encourages us in many ways. One special thing is the way that it deals with people. There is reality about human problems and troubles. The Bible never tries to hide the *sins of great people. But it does not neglect their hard tests either. The Bible shows the greatest people as they really are. It tells of their times of personal pain and despair. This reminds us that God is able to help us. He is sufficient for us. He will help us in all the troubles and difficulties of life.
People may have said evil things about you. This probably makes you feel hurt and sad. You may have done or failed to do something. People have said unkind or false things about you. To know that people respect you is something of great value. (Read Ecclesiastes 7:1; Proverbs 22:1.) To steal this from somebody is an awful *sin.
Paul makes an appeal to us. He urges us to think only about good, worthwhile things. (Read Philippians 4:8.) Love ‘thinks no evil’. (This is one translation of 1 Corinthians 13:5b.) We should fill our thoughts with good and holy things. Then it will be easier to obey an order of James. He tells us not to gossip. (Read James 3.) There is a prayer for every *believer. ‘*Lord, put a guard at the door of my lips. Help me to control the things that I say. Help me to be careful what I say’ (Psalm 141:3).
Slander is a painful experience. Christians in each century have known it. Dr Barnardo was one who knew it. He lived from 1845-1905. Many children in Britain lived and slept outside. He gave them love and a home. But people still spoke against him. His suffering was unnecessary. It has been like this for many hundreds of *believers.
We want to think about this problem for ourselves. To do this, we will study Psalm 7. David wrote it. Its title tells us the occasion when he wrote it. It says that it is ‘about the words of Cush’. He was ‘from the family group of Benjamin’. There may be a link between the words ‘Cush’ and ‘Kish’. Kish was Saul’s father. So, maybe people in Saul’s family were saying evil things about David.
It was probably at the period when Saul was chasing him. If it is, 1 Samuel chapters 24-26 tell us what was happening at the time. One thing is definite. David suffered because of nasty and cruel speech. He goes to the *Lord for help. The Psalm shows 5 things. They are about his thoughts and his conversation with God.
This is the main idea of Psalm 7:1-2. David clearly declares his trust in God. He does this in a definite way. He says: ‘*Lord my God, I put my trust in you.’
It should be the same for all who suffer like this. People may be saying cruel things about you. You should go to God. You should declare your confidence and trust in him. One translation says: ‘I come to you for protection.’
There may be many unkind words. They may be completely false. They are like dangerous swords. Your first act must not be a natural human act. A natural reaction is to attack with words too. But your first act must be to hurry to God. Tell him how much you love and trust him. Remember the words of Proverbs 18:10. ‘The *Lord is like a strong tower. (This is a strong, tall, narrow building.) Good people can run to him and be safe.’
This is something that we must always do. It is the subject of Psalm 7:3-5. At first, everything that people say against us seems false. But there may be some truth in their words. We must examine our lives in front of God. David says: ‘*Lord, if I have done this...’. The words against him were cruel. But he refuses just to try to prove that he is innocent. Something else is more important to him. He wants to know the truth about himself.
So, he stays in front of God. He asks God to examine his life. Other men have examined the details of his behaviour. He is bold and asks God to do the same. First, he found safety in the tower. Now he stands in God’s court. ‘*Lord’, he cries, ‘I want you to be my Judge. Is there any truth in these statements about me? Am I making you sad in any way? Am I being careless? Is there anything else in my life that is wrong?’
In a later Psalm, David prays. He asks God to forgive any secret faults (19:12). (Read Psalm 139:23, 24 too.) He knows that God will be a completely fair Judge. (Read Proverbs 17:3, 4; Jeremiah 11:20; 17:10.) If David has done wrong things, God will clearly show this to him.
A *believer may have this kind of trouble. Often he will try immediately to show that he is right. Do not do that. Go to the Holy One. Ask God to let you see your life as he sees it. It may hurt, but it is worth it.
This is the main idea in Psalm 7:6-10. David is sure that he is innocent in the matter. He calls to God again. This is because he knows that God alone is the judge. He believes that God loves what is fair and right. God will deal with those who accuse him. He will do this in his own way.
Notice 3 beliefs about *judgement. It is:
‘The *judgement is your command’ (Psalm 7:6). God is not careless. He does not keep changing his mind. There are clear laws. They rule people’s lives and their fate. He will not just forget what is unjust. Sometimes people are foolish. Perhaps they do not care. They think that they can do and say what they like. But they are forgetting an important Bible fact.
There is a Day of *Judgement. Then people must give an account of their lives. This will not just be about the serious things against God. It will be about the careless word. It will be about wrong things that they have said. (Read Matthew 12:36.) Each *believer should be careful about his conversation. We must remember that God hears everything. He hears what we discuss with other people. He hears what we say about other people.
Malachi says something important here. (This is in the book of Malachi. It is the last book of the Old Testament. The Old Testament is the first part of the Bible.) Malachi 3:16 speaks about a special book. It is the Book for Remembering. There is a clear link with the subject of *judgement.
Some people have *sinned in their speech against David. Of course he cares about these people. But he knows that he, too, must give a report of his life. David clearly says: ‘the *judgement is for me, *Lord’ (Psalm 7:6). He also says: ‘Be my judge, *Lord’ (Psalm 7:8). He cares about the ‘goodness that is in me’. He does not repeat the *sin of those who accuse him. So, he does not speak bitter words. He makes all his feelings become prayers. He is very aware that he, too, must meet the Judge.
‘The *Lord is judge of all people.’ (Read Psalm 7:7, 8.) These are serious words. Nobody should ever neglect them. They are very clear too. Each person must give an account of himself. He must explain his behaviour in this world. (Read Romans 14:10 and 2 Corinthians 5:10.)
David prays 3 prayers to God in Psalm 7. It is because of these great facts about the *judgement. God will come and deal with the situation. So David prays:
· Be my judge (7:8).
· Examine me (7:9). This includes his emotions and his thoughts. David uses a word picture here about metal. People put it in a fire to make it pure. (Read 1 Peter 1:6, 7.) David is praying: ‘Make me all that you want me to be.’
· Protect me (7:10). The attacks of people may be very cruel. But David is sure about God. God will defend and protect him.
This is the main subject of Psalm 7:11-16. When people attack you, the natural reaction is to attack them. Here, David refuses any thought of this. That is not his task. It is God’s business. God is a fair and good judge (7:11). The one who accuses David may refuse to *repent (7:12).
But one thing is certain. That person must explain his actions to God. He will have to do that in the Day of *Judgement. God is Judge. He is the one who will punish. It is not a job for the one who suffers. Romans 12:17-21 is important here. This was not a new idea. God taught it to his people near the beginning of their history. Read Deuteronomy 32:34-36. But they were slow to leave everything to God.
Someone may say something cruel against you. You must go to God. You must remember that he is holy. Perhaps you are with him for some time. You become sure that you are innocent. But you must refuse any thoughts of trying to prove this. You must decide not to attack that person. Tell the *Lord all about it. Ask him to deal with the matter in the way that pleases him most. The devil easily uses any effort by you to prove that you are right. (Read Proverbs 10:19.)
They said cruel and awful things to Jesus. But he refused to answer them. (Read Matthew 27:14; Mark 14:61 and Luke 23:9.) Peter was not like that. When people accused him, his reaction was to swear. (Read Matthew 26:74.)
Peter noticed this big difference. Maybe that is why he repeats it in his letter. It is in 1 Peter 2:23. ‘People said bad things to Jesus Christ. But he did not say bad things to them.’ This is how Peter ends chapter 2. Notice how he begins the chapter. He appeals to *believers to avoid certain things. ‘Do not do anything to hurt other people. Do not lie or pretend to people. ...Do not say bad things about people. Put all these things out of your life’ (1 Peter 2:1).
So, let us follow our *Lord’s example. Let us keep quiet and leave it all to him.
David refuses to attack those who attack him. That is God’s responsibility. But David has noticed something. Those who hurt people will hurt themselves too. (Read Psalm 7:15-16.) Some people like to gossip. They tell unkind things about other people. Someone who wants to please God will not listen to them.
There are even some Christians like this. They gossip about people. But we should ask God to guard our talk. We know what cruel words can do. They can make people very unhappy. We may hear unkind things about other people. We must refuse to repeat these things. Our silence could stop their pain.
This is the main idea of Psalm 7:17. David has brought his trouble to God. He is sad and anxious. But being with God changes things. One translation says: ‘I will give ... thanks’ and ‘I will sing praise’ to God. (Praise means to admire and appreciate God.) These two things are of great importance in a time of trouble.
This Psalm describes some of David’s troubles. There is something sad about trouble of any kind. It can make us unable to see things clearly. Our troubles and sad feelings are all that we can think about.
The sincere Christian refuses to allow this. He may have many difficulties. But they will not stop him from being grateful to God. There may be many things to disturb him. But he can still be grateful for many other things.
It may be hard for you to think of the good things. But you can still ‘sing praises to the *Lord’. God’s title at the end of the Psalm is a special one. It should cause any Christian to offer praise to him. He is the most high (special) *Lord. He is the sovereign one. This means that he has all authority and power. The *Hebrew words are ‘Jehovah Elyon’. This means that he controls everything. He is sovereign. (This means that he is the ruler with all authority and power.) He can use the terrible things that happen. He can bring good out of all our troubles. The sad things can become songs.
The people who wrote the Old Testament used many different words about
God. Sometimes they said ‘He is the place where we are safe’. Or, they
said ‘He will protect us.’ (Read Deuteronomy 33:27; Psalm. 9:9;
18:2; 46:1; 91:9). We must make sure that God is
‘our shelter, and the place where we are safe’ (Psalm 46:1). What does
that mean, when we try to do it?
2. David asked God to ‘Get up…Wake up’ (Psalm 7: 6). These words suggest something. It was a sad time for David. And perhaps he felt that God was far away. Maybe God did not care about his troubles. How would we deal with thoughts like that?
God knows what we are thinking. He knows what we want (Psalm 7:
9). What difference should that make to our lives?
2. David often called his God the ‘Most High’ (Psalm 7: 8, 10, 17. [Note: Not every translation of the Bible uses these exact words]. What truths was David remembering? The people who accused him said harmful things about David. How do you think that the true things helped him to cope?
3. David called God ‘my God’ (Psalm 7: 1, 3, 6). What did David mean at that time?
4. What are the qualities of someone who has an ‘honest heart’? (Psalm 7:10)
5. People might say things about us that are unkind. And they might say things that are not true. (Read Psalm 7).
How should we respond at a time like that?
6. Read James 3 again. We can hurt other people by careless talk. How we can avoid doing this?
believer ~ a person who knows and accepts the *Lord Jesus Christ; it is another name for a Christian.
Hebrew ~ the first part of the Bible is in the Hebrew language.
judgement ~ when God or a person says what is right or wrong; he tests behaviour; he decides if it is right or wrong; then he acts on the decision; the word can be about legal or moral matters.
Lord ~ a name that we call God or Jesus; we call God or Jesus Lord when we do what they say.
repent ~ to turn away from evil and towards God; this choice will mean a complete change of life.
sin ~ not reaching God’s standards; not obeying God’s rules; the word can speak about a state (Genesis 3; Romans 3:23; 5:12-17); it can also be an act; so the word can be a noun or a verb.
slander ~ when people say evil things that are false against someone.
EasyEnglishÓ TRANSLATION: Mary Read
LINGUISTIC CHECKER: Sue Hunter
© 1999-2014, Wycliffe Associates (UK)
This publication is written in EasyEnglish Level B (2800 words).
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