The words of a talebearer are as wounds,
and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly.
Having worked with high school students for over 40 years, I have often heard students discussing what they have overheard others saying about them. It may be a friend talking to another friend or a teacher talking to another teacher about a student. The words were hurtful and have never gone away. The memory of those words were deep and lasting.
This verse (26:22) repeats the words from Proverbs 18:8. The meaning, too, is the same. Perhaps the author wants to add emphasis here to the seriousness of gossip (verse 20) and arguing (verse 21). A talebearer is one who misrepresents stories about others. There may be truths in what they say, but the motivation for telling the story is somewhat mischievious, sometimes to blast another person’s reputation, to break a friendship or to cause disharmony between friends. The emphasis of the verse is upon the WORDS that this talebearer uses. They cause wounds.
Notice how serious this really is. These words cause great harm. If you are wounded physicially, it often takes time to get over the pain. These words cause hurt; you are in pain for a time. The verse, too, reminds us that these words go to the very core of our being (“into the innermost parts of the belly”). Our Lord commands us to love one another, yet the one who uses these words is doing anything but love. They are causing great injury. These woulds are mortal and cause deep pain.
Did not our Savior bear deep pain from words spoken by those around the cross? He heard all the false accusations from his enemies, yet he did not respond, but committed himself to his heavenly Father.
Let us be very careful with our words. Let us use words to build up one another, to encourage and help each other in this journey of life. If we have been wounded, even many years ago, let us commit ourselves to our Father’s keeping and for his healing of our pain.