A true witness delivereth souls: but a deceitful witness speaketh lies.
Lies cost lives; truth saves lives (Pr 18:21). Witnesses must tell what they know to deliver the innocent (Pr 24:12; 31:8-9). A witness can save a person from trouble by telling the truth, or a witness can condemn a person by lying about him. The power of a witness is enormous, and you have opportunities every day to be a true witness or a deceitful witness. It is very important to set your heart and mouth to always tell the truth.
The proverb is a simple observation about witnesses. The hidden lesson is the power of truth or lies in a witness’s mouth. A true witness can rescue an innocent man from suspicion or false charges. A lying witness can destroy an innocent man by deceitfully creating suspicion or confirming false charges. The damage done by witnesses is very great, which should provoke you to love truth and honest men and to hate lies and liars.
The perfect laws of God, which excel the laws of all nations, require a minimum of two witnesses before a charge can be brought in any matter against any person (Num 35:30; Deut 17:6; 19:15; Matt 18:15-16). One witness is not enough, because it is too easy for an angry or bitter person to ruin the lives of others by deceitfully speaking lies. Most any day you can read or hear about reputations or lives being damaged or ruined by one liar.
God’s perfect laws protect against perjury or lying in court. If a false witness were found, he was judged with the punishment at stake (Deut 19:16-21). For example, if a person testified falsely in a murder case, where capital punishment was the rule, the false witness would be killed. If eyesight were at stake, then the false witness’s eye was gouged out. Compare this to the slap on the wrist that perjurers get today. There is great wisdom in the Bible, and every political science class should read it and study it (Deut 4:5-8).
God’s perfect laws also required an oath before hearing a witness, which had the powerful effect of bringing the fear of God to bear on the controversy (Pr 29:24; Lev 5:1). After a person had been sworn to tell the truth in the name of the LORD Jehovah, any thought of lying would bring with it the thought of God’s certain curse. Even Jesus of Nazareth finally spoke after the high priest used an oath to bind Him (Matt 26:63-64).
Consider the damage done by false witnesses. Potiphar’s wife accused the perfect Joseph of trying to rape her, and it cost him his job, his reputation, and his liberty (Gen 39:7-20). But he rose to rule Egypt, and she was never heard from again. Wicked Jezebel hired two false witnesses to lie about Naboth in order for her to steal his vineyard for her wicked husband, King Ahab (I Kgs 21:7-14). He was killed in battle, and she was eaten by dogs.
If a true witness in court is so important, then what of men who are God’s ambassadors and witnesses in the pulpit? Let every man called of God to preach His gospel take heed to the doctrine that he proclaims (I Tim 4:16; Titus 1:9-11). But there are today, as there have always been, false teachers who speak lies in the name of God and His religion (Is 30:8-11; Jer 5:31; II Cor 2:17). Measure every minister by the word of God (Acts 17:11).
The greatest trial of all time is approaching. All men shall give an account of their lives to God (Rom 14:10-12; II Cor 5:9-11). No man will hide from the penetrating gaze of the infinitely holy and just God. For God’s elect, saved by His grace and the substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus Christ for their sins, there will be a mediator and counselor with the name of Faithful and True Witness (Rev 3:14; 19:11). He is the Lord Jesus Christ, and He will faithfully confess those who obey Him (Matt 7:21-27; Heb 2:13; 5:9; Rev 3:5).