If you take your neighbor to court, do not betray another’s confidence, or the one who hears it may shame you and the charge against you will stand.
These two verses continues the theme of verse 8 – dealings with my “neighbor.” At issue here, is whether I decide to take him or her to court!
Verse 9 doesn’t address if it’s right or wrong to take them to court. Instead, it’s a discussion about how I build my case against them in the court.
The singular thing I’m warned not to do here is “betray another’s confidence.” Choosing to share publicly what someone else has shared with me privately (“another’s confidence”) is just not a good idea.
Verse 10 indicates the reason I shouldn’t do this is because the “confidence” I share in public may well come back on me. “The one who hears it” could be the person who shared it with me.
And that person – or someone else with inside knowledge of the situation – “may hear it and shame” me. Even worse, “the charge against you shall stand.”
The consequences of my inappropriate words apparently turns everything around. While this translation suggests I lose my court case, that’s probably not the best understanding of the verse.
Rather than addressing who won or lost, it suggests that what I did lose was my credibility among those who know me.
The truth is, sometimes I can actually win the battle (my court case) but lose the war (my reputation) in the process!
So the message here is simple. I need to really think – count the cost – before I decide to take another to court. And, if I do choose to go ahead with the case, I’d better be careful about what information I want to share.