“Do not slander a servant to his master, lest he curse you, and you be held guilty.”
Gossip is always hurtful, and scripture commands us not to do it. In this verse, the command is to refrain from slandering “a servant to his master.”
Servants or slaves had very little social status, and as such were easily afflicted or oppressed by their masters or others. They had little protection by ordinary means of justice or redress. For fairness, they depended on the integrity and kindness of their masters. For that reason, God established a variety of responsibilities required of masters (see Lev 25:39-46; Deut 15:12-15; 23:15-16; 24:14-15; Col 4:1).
This proverb seeks to protect servants or slaves from those other than their masters or owners. False or harsh accusations from others in the household or those outside it could provoke their masters and lead to harsh treatment or punishment. The proverb condemns accusations that were slanderous (a false accusation), trivial (unnecessary), or harsh (unmerciful).
For arrogant people, it is tempting to disregard the rights of servants. It is tempting to ignore respect for those of a lower “social status.”
The warning in today’s proverb is that if you falsely accuse a servant to his master, and then the servant explains to the master that the accusation is false, you are in danger of being found guilty of slander. This presupposes, of course, a wise and discerning master.
I will close today with the straightforward declaration against gossip in James chapter 4: "Do not speak evil against one another, brothers." It is quite possible that James was thinking of Leviticus 19.16, which says: "‘Do not go about spreading slander among your people. Do not do anything that endangers your neighbor’s life. I am the Lord."
Trust God and reject gossip.