Verbal and Emotional Abuse – page 4 of Scriptures Describing Abuse

Prov. 12:18a  There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts,

Prov. 16:27  A worthless man plots evil, and his speech is like a scorching fire.

Prov. 18:21  Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.

The fifteen numbered categories below are taken from The Verbally Abusive Relationship [Affiliate link] by Patricia Evans.

1. Withholding

2 Sam. 13:22  But Absalom spoke to Amnon neither good nor bad, for Absalom hated Amnon, because he had violated his sister Tamar.

Mt. 26:56  But all this has taken place that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples left him and fled.
Abandonment is a form of withholding.

2. Countering

Lk. 11:15 But some of them said, “He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the prince of demons,”
This is countering and name calling.

John 7:19-20 [Jesus said] “Has not Moses given you the law? Yet none of you keeps the law. Why do you seek to kill me?”
The crowd answered, “You have a demon! Who is seeking to kill you?”
Countering by making accusations: you’re demonised and paranoid!

3. Verbal abuse disguised as a joke

Prov. 26:18-19  Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death is the man who deceives his neighbor and says, “I am only joking!”

Judges 16:25  And when their hearts were merry, they said, “Call Samson, that he may entertain us.” So they called Samson out of the prison, and he entertained them. They made him stand between the pillars.

Ridicule and mockery:
Mk. 15:15, 17-20  So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified. … And they clothed him in a purple cloak, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on him. And they began to salute him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they were striking his head with a reed and spitting on him and kneeling down in homage to him. And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. And they led him out to crucify him.
Also Lk. 23:11; Jn. 19:2-3

Mk. 15:29-32 And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself, and come down from the cross!” So also the chief priests with the scribes mocked him to one another, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself.  Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe.” Those who were crucified with him also reviled him.

4. Blocking and diverting

John 12:3-5  Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?”
Judas blocked the attention being given to Jesus’ impending sacrifice, and tried to divert the disciples’ attention to the needs of the poor — but like all abusers, he had a hidden agenda in creating that diversion.

5. Accusing and blaming (blame-shifting)

Gen 3:12-13  The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
Also Num. 16:41
Blame shifting has been the tendency of every man and woman since the fall.

Gen. 27:36  Esau said, “Is he not rightly named Jacob? For he has cheated me these two times. He took away my birthright, and behold, now he has taken away my blessing.” Then he said, “Have you not reserved a blessing for me?”
Esau despised his birthright and gave it away; Jacob did not wrest it from him.

Gen 39:11-18  Potiphar’s wife saying she had Joseph’s garment because he had tried to rape her.

Ex. 32:24 So I [Aaron] said to them, ‘Let any who have gold take it off.’ So they gave it to me, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf.”
Aaron blamed the fire for shaping the golden calf, when it was he who had fashioned the gold with a graving tool! Man will shift the blame anywhere, even to forces of nature.

Ezek. 18:2  “What do you mean by repeating this proverb concerning the land of Israel, ‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge’?
The Israelites were blaming their forebears for their suffering, rather than taking personal responsibility. We sometimes see this in psychiatry and sociology today.

Ps. 109:2-3  For wicked and deceitful mouths are opened against me, speaking against me with lying tongues. They encircle me with words of hate, and attack me without cause.
Also Ps.120:2

Prov. 25:18-19  A man who bears false witness against his neighbor is like a war club, or a sword, or a sharp arrow. Trusting in a treacherous man in time of trouble is like a bad tooth or a foot that slips.

1 Sam. 17:28  Now Eliab his eldest brother heard when he spoke to the men. And Eliab’s anger was kindled against David, and he said, “Why have you come down? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your presumption and the evil of your heart, for you have come down to see the battle.”

1 Kings 18:17  When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, “Is it you, you troubler of Israel?”
Ahab blamed Elijah for the drought which he had brought on by his own idolatry.

Lk. 11:53-54  As he went away from there, the scribes and the Pharisees began to press him hard and to provoke him to speak about many things, lying in wait for him, to catch him in something he might say.

John 8:48  The Jews answered him, “Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?”

John 10:24  So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.”
Jesus did not make them doubt; they doubted by themselves.

Mt. 26:59- 60  Now the chief priests and the whole council were seeking false testimony against Jesus that they might put him to death, but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. At last two came forward

6. Judging and criticising

Acts 26:24  And as he was saying these things in his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, “Paul, you are out of your mind; your great learning is driving you out of your mind.”

Lk. 5:30  And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”

7. Trivialising

Ex. 32:21-22  And Moses said to Aaron, “What did this people do to you that you have brought such a great sin upon them?” And Aaron said, “Let not the anger of my lord burn hot…
Aaron was saying “Don’t be so angry! You’re over-reacting. You’re oversensitive,” when the issue was very serious and Moses’ anger was fully justified.

Luke 23:8  When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had long desired to see him, because he had heard about him, and he was hoping to see some sign done by him.
To treat the Lord’s miracles as if they were entertaining or curious stage shows is to utterly trivialise them.

Mt. 27: 28-29  And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!”

Prov. 25:20  Whoever sings songs to a heavy heart is like one who takes off a garment on a cold day, and like vinegar on soda.

8. Undermining

Lk. 4:22   And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth. And they said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?”
The people of Nazareth undermined Jesus by pointing to his undistinguished upbringing.

Lk. 16:13b-14 …You cannot serve God and money. The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all these things, and they ridiculed him.
The perpetrators’ motive for throwing accusations and blame is to divert the focus off their own moral faults.

Lk. 23:35-37, 39  And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him,  saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!”

Mk. 12:18-23  And Sadducees came to him, who say that there is no resurrection. And they asked him a question, saying, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife, but leaves no child, the man must take the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. There were seven brothers; the first took a wife, and when he died left no offspring. And the second took her, and died, leaving no offspring. And the third likewise. And the seven left no offspring. Last of all the woman also died. In the resurrection, when they rise again, whose wife will she be? For the seven had her as wife.”
This example has shades of verbal abuse disguised as a joke, undermining, and trivialising.

9. Discounting

Lk. 24:9-11  …and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles, but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.
The women’s testimony was discounted.

Lk. 8:52-53  And all were weeping and mourning for her, but he said, “Do not weep, for she is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him, knowing that she was dead.
Their laughter was discounting and undermining. Note how Jesus put out the verbal abusers before he got down to the business of healing.

2 Sam. 13:20  And her brother Absalom said to her, “Has Amnon your brother been with you? Now hold your peace, my sister. He is your brother; do not take this to heart.”
Absalom discounted the importance of Tamar’s rape by saying ‘It was only your brother!’

10. Threatening

Mk. 11:28  and they said to him, “By what authority are you doing these things, or who gave you this authority to do them?”
The Jewish leaders were trying to intimidate and threatened Jesus. If he had answered this question he would, at the very least, have been undermined by his accusers. They might have felt they had grounds to arrest him.

11. Name calling

Mt. 26:65-66  “He has uttered blasphemy. What further witnesses do we need? You have now heard his blasphemy.  What is your judgment?” They answered, “He deserves death.”
The High Priest called Jesus a blasphemer.

John 7:50-52  Nicodemus, who had gone to him before, and who was one of them, said to them, “Does our law judge a man without first giving him a hearing and learning what he does?” They replied, “Are you from Galilee too? Search and see that no prophet arises from Galilee.”
Pharisees used name-calling against Nicodemus’s attempts to be rational with them.

John 18:29-30  So Pilate went outside to them and said, “What accusation do you bring against this man?” They answered him, “If this man were not doing evil, we would not have delivered him over to you.”
Pilate asks ‘What accusation do you bring against Jesus?’ The Jews answer ‘If he were not a malefactor.’ In other words, they do not make an accusation , they simply call him a name.

12. ‘Forgetting’ (moving the goal-posts) and false promises

In 1 Sam. 17:25, Saul promised to give his eldest daughter Merab to the man who would kill Goliath. Although David killed Goliath, he was not given Merab. A little later, Saul said that David must fight the Philistines army to earn Merab (18:17). But Saul gave Merab to another man (v.19). Then in verse 25, he offered Michal, another daughter, to David. However, the requirement was again changed: David had to bring Saul a hundred foreskins of the Philistines.

1 Sam. 17:25  And the men of Israel said, “Have you seen this man who has come up? Surely he has come up to defy Israel. And the king will enrich the man who kills him with great riches and will give him his daughter and make his father’s house free in Israel.”
Another promise Saul forgot.
See also Pharaoh’s false promises in Ex. 8:8, 28.

13. Ordering

Mt. 27:32  As they went out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name. They compelled this man to carry his cross.

There are many references to Jesus being interrogated by the Jewish and Roman authorities. They demanded, indeed sometimes ordered, that he give them an answer. E.g., Luke 17:20; 23:9; Mt. 12:10; 22:23-24; 27:11.

2 Sam. 13:20  And her brother Absalom said to her, “Has Amnon your brother been with you? Now hold your peace, my sister. He is your brother; do not take this to heart.”
Absalom ordered Tamar to stop drawing attention to the fact that she had been raped.

Judges 16:16  And when she pressed him hard with her words day after day, and urged him, his soul was vexed to death.

Ex. 5:1, 6-9 Afterward Moses and Aaron went and said to Pharaoh, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Let my people go, that they may hold a feast to me in the wilderness.’” … The same day Pharaoh commanded the taskmasters of the people and their foremen, “You shall no longer give the people straw to make bricks, as in the past; let them go and gather straw for themselves. But the number of bricks that they made in the past you shall impose on them, you shall by no means reduce it, for they are idle. Therefore they cry, ‘Let us go and offer sacrifice to our God.’ Let heavier work be laid on the men that they may labor at it and pay no regard to lying words.”

When escape is being contemplated by the victim, the abuser increases the woman’s workload. The same thing can happen when she tries to enroll in study, or get a job. Some women have been so worn down by being the slave that it takes them many more years to find the energy to organise their escape. One abuser commanded their four children not to do any household chores, so the wife carried the domestic burden alone.

14. Denial

Prov. 16:2  All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit

Ps. 120:2  Deliver me, O Lord, from lying lips, from a deceitful tongue.

Mk. 7:6  And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me;    Also Ps. 62:4

Mt. 26:21-22, 25  And as they were eating, he said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” And they were very sorrowful and began to say to him one after another, “Is it I, Lord?” …  Judas, who would betray him, answered, “Is it I, Rabbi?”
Judas was acting all innocent, as anyone in denial does.

Mt. 27:24  So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood;  see to it yourselves.”
Pilate denied his responsibility for Jesus’ death.

15. Abusive anger

Prov. 27:3  A stone is heavy, and sand is weighty, but a fool’s provocation is heavier than both.

Prov. 14:16-17  but a fool is reckless and careless. A man of quick temper acts foolishly, and a man of evil devices is hated.

Gen. 4:23-24  Lamech said to his wives: “Adah and Zillah, hear my voice; you wives of Lamech, listen to what I say:
I have killed a man for wounding me, a young man for striking me. If Cain’s revenge is sevenfold, then Lamech’s is seventy-sevenfold.”
There is an element of threatening as well as plain abusive anger in this bragging speech of Lamech’s.

Prov. 26:21  As charcoal to hot embers and wood to fire, so is a quarrelsome man for kindling strife.

Also Prov. 15:18; Prov. 29:22; Prov. 30:33


Prov. 14:5   A faithful witness does not lie, but a false witness breathes out lies.

Ps. 120:1-2  In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me, Deliver me, O Lord, from lying lips, from a deceitful tongue.

Prov. 26:24  Whoever hates disguises himself with his lips and harbors deceit in his heart;

Prov. 26:28  A lying tongue hates its victims, and a flattering mouth works ruin.

Prov. 17:4  A lying tongue hates its victims, and a flattering mouth works ruin.

2 Tim. 3:6  For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions


1 Sam. 18:17  Then Saul said to David, “Here is my elder daughter Merab. I will give her to you for a wife. Only be valiant for me and fight the Lord’s battles.” For Saul thought, “Let not my hand be against him, but let the hand of the Philistines be against him.”
To lead the victim into destruction, the abuser lets her think that the enterprise which he plans to harm her by is “the Lord’s work”.

In 2 Sam. 11:8-15, King David tried to manipulate Uriah into having sex with Bathsheba, so her pregnancy would not be attributed to the King. When that failed he manipulated to have Uriah killed in battle.

Amnon manipulated King David in order to get an opportunity to rape Tamar. Amnon’s friend Jonadab had concocted the plan (2 Sam.13:1-7). Note Jonadab’s ingratiating himself to the King in v. 32, after Amnon had been killed by Absalom in revenge for this rape.

See also 2 Sam. 15:2-6

False repentance and insincere requests for prayer

Under the increasing pressure of continuing plagues, Pharaoh claimed he was repentant:
Ex. 9:27-28  Then Pharaoh sent and called Moses and Aaron and said to them, “This time I have sinned; the Lord is in the right, and I and my people are in the wrong. Plead with the Lord, for there has been enough of God’s thunder and hail. I will let you go, and you shall stay no longer.”

Ex. 10:16-17  Then Pharaoh hastily called Moses and Aaron and said, “I have sinned against the Lord your God, and against you. Now therefore, forgive my sin, please, only this once, and plead with the Lord your God only to remove this death from me.”

1 Sam 24:16- 17  As soon as David had finished speaking these words to Saul, Saul said, “Is this your voice, my son David?” And Saul lifted up his voice and wept. He said to David, “You are more righteous than I, for you have repaid me good, whereas I have repaid you evil.

1 Sam. 26:21  Then Saul said, “I have sinned. Return, my son David, for I will no more do you harm, because my life was precious in your eyes this day. Behold, I have acted foolishly, and have made a great mistake.”

Contrast Judah, a non-abusive man who sometimes responded when convicted of sin. When Tamar confronted him with evidence of his sin, he acknowledged his fault and never repeated the sin (Gen. 38: 25-26). UPDATE: see the comments here and here

Hos. 7:14-16  They do not cry to me from the heart, but they wail upon their beds; for grain and wine they gash themselves; they rebel against me. Although I trained and strengthened their arms, yet they devise evil against me. They return, but not upward;  they are like a treacherous bow;

Using Privilege

Mt. 27:36  Then they sat down [the soldiers] and kept watch over him there [on the cross].

Narcissism and Grandiose Delusions

Prov. 26:12  Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes?  There is more hope for a fool than for him.

Prov. 26:26  though his hatred be covered with deception, his wickedness will be exposed in the assembly.

Treating you like Royalty, Flattery, Feigned Affection

Mk. 12:14  And they came and said to him, “Teacher, we know that you are true and do not care about anyone’s opinion. For you are not swayed by appearances,  but truly teach the way of God. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? Should we pay them, or should we not?”

Ps. 12:2  Everyone utters lies to his neighbor;  with flattering lips and a double heart they speak.

Also Ps. 5:9; Ps. 41:5-6

Employing feigned affection to enact wickedness is an abuse of the other person’s emotions:

Lk. 22:47  While he was still speaking, there came a crowd, and the man called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He drew near to Jesus to kiss him,

Ps. 41:9  Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me.

Prov. 27:6  Faithful are the wounds of a friend;  profuse are the kisses of an enemy.

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5 thoughts on “Verbal and Emotional Abuse – page 4 of Scriptures Describing Abuse”

  1. 4) Blocking and diverting

    John 12:34 So the crowd answered him, “We have heard from the Law that the Christ remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?”

    The people ask ‘Who is this son of man?’ but Jesus hadn’t referred in his previous speech to the Son of Man.

    —Your last statement is false, Jesus DID refer to “Son of Man” in His previous speech…
    John 12:23
    (23) And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. (KJV)
    (23) And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. (ESV)
    (23) And Jesus answereth them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should
    be glorified (ASV)
    (23) Jesus replied, “The time has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. (NET)

  2. Contrast Judah a nonabusive man

    …. what?? He hated his brother and sold him! He regularly went into harlots which betrayed his wife and was a form of abuse of her as well as the harlot! The repentance was from the Holy Spirit working in his heart and not from his ‘nonabusive’ nature.

    1. Bren, you are right, Judah was not a ‘non-abusive man’. I shall modify what I said about him above.

      Judah unkindly and in violation of the Levirate marriage law, kept his twice-widowed daughter-in-law Tamar from marrying his third son. That was an unjust exercise of power. He then had relations with a ‘prostitute’ (Tamar in disguise) which was a betrayal of his wife. (Gen. 38)
      Judah was one of the ten sons of Jacob who hated their brother Joseph and who who collectively threw him into the pit. In Gen. 37 he showed himself to be a tad less wicked than the rest of his brothers in that he persuaded them not to kill Joseph but instead sell him to slave traders. That does not make him a good man, however, it only makes him less bad than his other brothers.
      Later Judah was the brother who pledged himself to protect Benjamin when the brothers had to go a second time to Egypt to buy grain (Gen. 43:8-9); and when Joseph shrewdly trapped them with the silver cup set-up, Judah stood ready to give himself up to Joseph in exchange for Benjamin being freed — so he honored his pledge (Gen. 44).

      However, none of that warranted me calling Judah a ‘non-abusive’ man. However, maybe we could say he was a man who was somewhat more obedient to his conscience than a hard-line abuser is. And certainly when Tamar confronted him with proof of his guilt, he responded to the conviction of the Holy Spirit.

      Thanks for drawing my attention to this, Bren. 🙂

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