A man that beareth false witness against his neighbour is a maul, and a sword, and a sharp arrow.
Do you smash, slash, or pierce others? Do you crush them? Cut and wound them? Pierce them deeply? If you ever exaggerate, lie, or remain silent to put a person in a bad light, you are guilty. You are like a maul – a large and heavy hammer. You are like a sword. You are like a sharp arrow. You hurt others painfully. Destroy these weapons today!
Similes and metaphors are figures of speech that make a comparison between things to explain or illustrate one of them. A simile admits the comparison by using comparative words such as “like” or “as.” A metaphor assumes the comparison without identifying it. This proverb is a metaphor. If it were a simile, it would read, “A man that beareth false witness against his neighbor is LIKE a maul, and a sword, and a sharp arrow.”
Noble and righteous men always tell the truth, especially when a reputation or life is at stake. When they are witnesses in any matter, they are careful to say all they should, as accurately as they can recall it. They do not remain silent, when their word would shed light on a situation. This matter is important enough to God that the ninth commandment reads, “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour” (Ex 20:16).
This is no light matter. When God writes a nation’s laws, perjury in court will get you the same punishment as the crime being tried, even if it is death (Deut 19:16-21). Such a wise law would help witnesses tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth! Memories would improve and consciences would be much more active. God hates all lying, but especially when another party is at risk (6:16-19; 19:5,9; Ex 23:1-9; Lev 5:1; 19:11-18).
You can smash a person’s hopes, reputation, or life, if you testify falsely against him or do not tell the whole truth. You can cut him deeply, as with a sword, if you fail to deliver him from trouble, when you know the truth about a matter. And you can fatally wound him from a distance, if you were a witness to some event, but you withhold the truth from those adjudicating the crime. A false witness is a hateful and terrible enemy to men.
You would never lie in court? Good. Would you tell the whole truth, nothing but the truth, without exaggeration or bias, about everything you know? Good. Remember that stretching the facts or remaining silent when you know more is also being a false witness.
What is your reputation? Is it always and only to tell the truth about others? Are you known for never backbiting, never slandering, never talebearing, and never whispering? Do you always put the actions of others in the best light possible? If not, start today!