This is a proverb where something in nature is described, and then God compares it with a spiritual truth about life. Here we find a fire described in practical terms no one can deny - but in the end this fire that is going out is compared to what the Bible calls "the whisperer." Let's take a look at what we can learn here.
"For lack of wood the fire goes out." Here is the practical truth that no one can deny. When you have a fire, you have to continue putting wood on it if you want it to continue to burn. No wood means no fire. It will go out in a matter of hours. Just like this is true, God wants us to grasp something about contention among people. This contention is often due to someone called "a whisperer." Who is this whisperer - and what does he or she do that helps to keep contention alive?
The whisperer is one who murmurs. The Hebrew word is "ragan" and it means to murmur or to whisper. The murmuring that is going on with the whisperer is that of grumbling, criticizing, complaining, and slandering. Zhodiates says it refers to gossipping and complaining. The word is used in Psalm 106:25 to describe how Israel murmured and complained in their tents against the Lord in the time of Moses. Those who were the murmurers and whisperers were the trouble makers - the gossips - the ones who fomented rebellion in the hearts of the people of Israel. Their murmuring helped to destroy an entire generation - who became infected with it. This whispering here is what is causing problems - causing the contention that exists here. There are serious relational problems developing because of the actions of the whisperer.
Let me give a practical illustration. The whisperer does not like something done by leadership in the church. Instead of taking their problems to the leadership, which is the biblical way to deal with problems, they begin talking to a brother or sister about what they see and perceive. Soon, there are two people who are upset with leadership - and their number grows as the whispering campaign continues to grow and flourish. Soon small groups of whisperers get together from time to time and have roast pastor or elder - a delicacy that is loved by whisperers and gossips. Before long the majority of the church is being infected with this gossip that begins to gain steam around the fellowship. Until the whisperers are quieted and rebuked, there will be plenty of contention to go around. Some may leave the fellowship - while others stick around for the eventual power play to usurp the authority of the pastor/elder and take over themselves. There will be plenty of anger and frustration build as long as the whisperers ply their trade. The only hope for the fellowship is that they are silenced. When there is no whisperer, contention quiets down. There is the truth to be learned. Just like a fire without wood will die down - so a contention or church fight will die down if the whisperers can be silenced or removed.
How about you? Are you a whisperer? Does there seem to be contention around you all the time? If you whisper to others about the problems and the discontentment you have - don't be surprised if soon you have a circle of other malcontents who will aid and abet you in setting the church or friendship or marriage on fire. For those who love ashes and destruction - this is almost impossible to resist - but oh how we should resist it. No one ever gains by tearing something donwn and destroying it. Instead of whispering to men - try interceding to God. The difference in the result may shock you! As long as their are whisperers - there will be no real, long-term growth and blessing in the church. Next time you are tempted to become a whisperer - don't do it. Stop yourself in your tracks and fall to your knees in prayer. If you resist the destructive nature of gossip and whispering - you will find that the opposite of it is intercession and crying out to God. One creates contention - the other creates peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Which one will you choose?