He that backbites not with his tongue, nor does evil to his neighbor, nor takes up a reproach against his neighbor.
The backbiter is so called because, like the dog, he steals behind those in whom he wishes to flesh his teeth, deals in innuendoes, insinuations, evil surmisings, significant shrugs and looks, words meaning one thing in their literal sense and altogether another thing from the tone in which they are uttered, and so destroys a good name that no open assault could have affected. In this way the weak often overwhelm the strong; the vilest the most pure. The blow from behind and in the dark accomplishes its work of ruin before danger is even suspected. The truly good man, however, will assail no man's good name. If he cannot speak good of another he will say nothing. He thinks, and justly too, that he has no more right to injure another's character, than he has to injure his health; to destroy another's good name, than he has to destroy his life. If he discover a neighbour's faults he does not noise them abroad, but tries to conceal them; and so, if he discovers his neighbour's necessities, he does what he can to relieve them. Moreover, be taketh not "up a reproach against his neighbour"; that is, either he will not originate a reproach, or he will not listen to one. The willing listener is as bad as the tale bearer. If there were none to listen to the tale of scandal, there would be none to start it, and none to repeat it; the slanderous ear is as detestable as the slanderous tongue.
(David Caldwell, A. M.)
Parallel VersesKJV: He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour.