Accuse not a servant unto his master, lest he curse thee, and thou be found guilty.
Accusations must be just and merciful, especially against the afflicted or oppressed, who cannot easily defend themselves. Unnecessary harshness could cause them to curse you, which will then bring God’s judgment against you. God’s religion under both testaments includes much compassion and mercy for the lowly, poor, weak, or oppressed.
The Bible throughout allows for servitude or slavery, though it protects servants or slaves by commanding just and kind treatment from masters. The Bible allows and governs both bond servants and hired servants. While legal servitude disturbs some, the confusion is usually due to one’s cultural upbringing, ignorance of the Bible and history, ignorance of servitude in other societies, and/or ignorance of the possible mutual economic benefits.
The God of the Bible, Jehovah by name, protects the lowly, poor, weak, and oppressed, and He commands that all others do the same. He protects orphans and widows (Ps 68:5; 82:1-4). He protects animals (Pr 12:10; Deut 22:6; 25:4). He demands that men speak up when they are able to help those who cannot defend themselves (Pr 24:11-12; 31:8-9).
Servants or slaves were a low class of men, easily afflicted or oppressed by masters, and with little protection by ordinary means of justice or redress. They depended on fairness and kindness from their masters, so God protected them by a variety of duties required of their masters (Lev 25:39-46; Deut 15:12-15; 23:15-16; 24:14-15; Col 4:1; etc.).
This proverb protects 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 deprivation or punishment. The proverb condemns accusations that were slanderous (a false accusation), trivial (unnecessary), or harsh (unmerciful).
A servant or slave’s lowly status did not stop accusations of wrongdoing that were given honestly, for a major offence, and without prejudice or revenge. Respect of persons in judgment, either low or high, is wrong (Ex 23:3; Lev 19:15). The lowly do not deserve sympathy when guilty of crimes (Pr 6:30-31; Gen 21:25-26; Lev 19:17; I Sam 26:19).
How important is this matter? God defends and judges those with no power to protect themselves, so beware (Pr 22:22-23; 28:27; Deut 10:18; 15:9; Ps 10:14,18; 146:9). Deal carefully, judge lightly, and choose to err on the side of liberality and mercy, and God will bless you (Pr 19:17; 21:13; 22:16; Is 58:6-11). Do justly and love mercy (Mic 6:8).
Consider an example. Jacob moved his family to Egypt, where through a succession of kings they became servants of the Egyptians. The accusation was made that unless they were oppressed, they would become too numerous for the Egyptians (Ex 1:8-14). Israel cried unto the Lord, and He heard them (Ex 2:23-25). Think ten plagues, dead firstborn, a drowned army, and a plundered and ravaged nation. Be careful about accusing a servant.
Consider another example. The scribes and Pharisees, religious elite of the Jews, accused the lowly apostles to their Master Jesus (Matt 15:1-2). It had been better for them not to have left their homes that day. Jesus promptly and publicly took them to task for their hypocrisy and vain religion, shaming them before the multitude (Matt 15:3-11). When informed that the Pharisees were offended, He condemned them further (Matt 15:12-14).
Consider another example. Judas Iscariot was a thief (John 12:6), and he conspired with the Jews against the Servant Jesus for the price of a servant (Matt 26:15; Ex 21:32). Jesus cursed Judas (Ps 109:6-20; Matt 18:7; 26:24), and he ended up without the money, swallowed up with guilt and grief, and a disemboweled suicide in a worthless field (Matt 27:3-10; Acts 1:16-20). Be careful about accusing a servant, especially the Son of God.
Consider another example. The Jews hated Jesus, and they despised and rejected Him, hid their faces from Him, and accused Him of horrible crimes before God (Is 53:3-4; Matt 9:34; 12:24; 26:65; John 8:48). But Almighty God leveled the city of Jerusalem to the ground because they so treated their holy Servant and Visitor (Luke 19:43-44). Be careful about accusing a servant, especially the Son of God. Kiss Him instead (Ps 2:12).
To be sure of godliness, speak evil of no man (Tit 3:2). Worry more about the beam in your own eye than the mote in another’s (Matt 7:3-5). Love mercy over judgment (Jas 2:13; Matt 7:1-2). Remember the ten thousand talents God forgave you when considering the hundred pence owed you (Mat 18:21-35). Let love cover what it can (Pr 10:12; 17:9).
Do you understand Christian liberty? God has left many incidental matters of life to each believer’s choice or preference. You have no right to criticize or accuse about these choices. Paul wrote, “Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand” (Rom 14:4). Does Solomon’s proverb extend beyond what you first thought? Amen!
Let every man or woman in a position of authority practice fairness and gentleness to completely fulfill the righteousness of God taught by this proverb. Let no civil ruler oppress any under him (Eccl 5:8). Let every employer deal fairly (Col 4:1). Let every father avoid discouraging his children (Col 3:21). Let every husband honor his wife (I Pet 3:7). Let every pastor despise partiality or respect of persons (I Tim 5:21).
Christian reader, you are a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. If you live godly in Christ Jesus, you will be persecuted (II Tim 3:12), and some will think they are pleasing God (Is 66:5). Hear your Master, “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD” (Is 54:17).