Proverbs 24:28

Be not a witness against thy neighbor without cause; and deceive not with thy lips.
– Proverbs 24:28

Verse 28 is a saying against bearing false witness. The word for without cause literally means for nothing. It can refer to free, or without cost, but can also mean without a reason. In the context of a false witness, it means to make a baseless accusation. The law required a witness to have firsthand knowledge to give testimony in a case (Leviticus 5:1). Judges were responsible to examine the witnesses’ evidence and establish the truthfulness of the testimony (Deuteronomy 19:18-21). Wisdom as well as the law condemns being a false witness (Exodus 23:1; Proverbs 14:5; 19:5; 21:28).

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Proverbs 21:28

A false witness shall perish: but the man that heareth speaketh constantly.
– Proverbs 21:28

The word for perish means to go astray, or be destroyed. A false witness is a lying witness, which works all kinds of evil (Proverbs 6:19; 19:5). The second phrase is difficult and interpretations vary. The word for constantly means enduring, or perpetuity. The word for heareth means to hear intelligently, or to understand. From the contrast with the first phrase, we know a faithful witness is in view (Leviticus 5:1). In ultimate terms, truth will endure and falsehood will not last (Proverbs 12:19), and that seems the overall point of the proverb.

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Proverbs 19:28

An ungodly witness scorneth judgment: and the mouth of the wicked devoureth iniquity.
– Proverbs 19:28

The word for witness means testimony, or evidence. Proverbs has several warnings or condemnations of a false witness (Proverbs 6:19; 12:17; 14:5; 19:5, 9; 21:28; 25:18). Here it is an ungodly witness, or witness of Belial. He is a thoroughly wicked and deceitful witness. Deliberately twisted testimony scorneth, or mocks, judgment, or justice in the sense of a verdict. The word for devoureth means to swallow, or we would say gulp down. The second phrase pictures the ungodly witness as enjoying and greedily devouring iniquity, or wickedness. It reminds us of how the fool laps up foolishness (Proverbs 15:14).

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Proverbs 19:9

A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall perish.
– Proverbs 19:9

A false witness is an abomination to God and forbidden strictly by the law (Proverbs 6:16-19; Deuteronomy 19:16-21). This proverb is the same as Proverbs 19:5, except for the consequence, perish. The word mean be destroyed and all liars shall meet just judgment, in this life or in the one to come (Revelation 21:8).

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Proverbs 19:5

A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall not escape.
– Proverbs 19:5

The word for unpunished means to be clear, or innocent. It has a judicial gloss here, since false witness has legal connotations. False witness is one of the hated abominations in Proverbs 6:16-19. The law forbids false witness and prescribes strict punishment for it (Exodus 20:16; 23:1; Deuteronomy 19:16). A false witness may go unchecked in this life, but this proverb promises he shall not escape (Revelation 21:8, 27; 22:15).

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Proverbs 14:25

A true witness delivereth souls: but a deceitful witness speaketh lies.
– Proverbs 14:25

True justice is dependent on truth, according this proverb and elsewhere (Proverbs 14:5). Wisdom will not trust in a false witness, for such a witness may benefit in the short term, but it is just as likely to hurt. True righteousness will not rejoice in unrighteousness even if it might benefit them.

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Proverbs 14:5

A faithful witness will not lie: but a false witness will utter lies.
– Proverbs 14:5

Truth telling is the character of a faithful witness, just as deceit is of a false witness (Proverbs 12:17; 13:5). The word for utter means to breathe out and the picture is one a habitual liar. A faithful witness will not lie and cannot be bribed to. The false witness needs no incentive, but lies readily. The lies of a false witness are an abomination to God (Proverbs 6:19).

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Proverbs 12:17

He that speaketh truth sheweth forth righteousness: but a false witness deceit.
– Proverbs 12:17

The word for righteousness means justice and along with the term false witness, this proverb has a legal connotation. Speaking truth reliably manifests or upholds justice (Proverbs 14:5, 25). So the thought here includes consistency or reliability in those who speak truth. A false witness is more than one who lies. Their lies or deceit through omission perverts justice (Proverbs 19:28; 24:28).

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Proverbs 6:19

A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.
– Proverbs 6:19

False witness refers to deception but it is distinct from just lying. A false witness lies in order to condemn someone. It is a false accusation or report that gives evidence of guilt against someone. False witness was prohibited by the law (Exodus 20:16; 23:1) and punishable (Deuteronomy 19:16-20). Of course, this is in the range of the evil man with a forward mouth (Proverbs 6:12).

The list concludes with declaring the sowing of discord to be an abomination and this was also a mark of the evil man (Proverbs 6:14). Discord is strife or contention. Sowing discord refers to causing such strife where none existed, or where there’s no reason for contention. This sort is quick to enflame a contention (Proverbs 26:20-21), or keep one going.

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