The great philosopher, Maimonides, who lived some 800 years ago, wrote, "The sin of the man with the evil tongue is worse than the murderer, since the slanderer destroys a man's reputation, which is more precious than life. He kills with his tongue three victims: himself, the man listening to his slander, and the innocent subject."
In Leviticus 19:16, the Lord commanded, "You shall not go about as a talebearer among your people." The Hebrew word here is rachi, meaning "trader, peddler." Dake says, "It is used here for those who peddle scandal, obtaining secrets of others, and retailing them as gossip wherever they go."
We are told in Proverbs 11:13, "The talebearer reveals secrets," meaning "a walking busybody, a peddler of scandal." They reveal whatever is confided to them. Further, in Proverbs 20:19, we are told not to associate with such people, and 26:20 tells us that talebearers are the cause of much strife and division. Spurgeon said, "Cannibalism is dying out among the barbarous tribes, but it still survives among highly civilized people. How great would be our revulsion if we were invited with others to a feast whose principal dish was a well-roasted neighbor. We would refuse with horror. But any host would not lack for guests if at some social event some absent one was slanderously spoken against, and seared and scarred by gossiping tongues."
In Proverbs 26:22, we read how their words bring much pain and wounds to others. The Septuagint translates this verse, "The words of knaves are soft, but they strike to the bowels." Another has stated, "Slander is deadly--it outvenoms all the worms of the Nile." During Aaron Burr's long life, he tasted the cup of honor and distinction, and also drained the dregs of bitterness and humiliation. As he lay dying, a friend who was sitting with him reported some rumor by saying, "They said." Burr interrupted her, and said, "My dear, never use that phrase. It has broken more hearts than any other."
Proverbs 10:18 warns, "Whoever spreads slander is a fool." Therefore, let our prayer be, "Lord, put Your arm around my shoulder, and Your hand across my mouth!"