A secret can be difficult to keep and equally difficult to share. Yet life seems to run on secrets, from concealing birthday presents to obscuring a difficult past to protecting the whereabouts of an important political figure. The Bible teaches, indirectly, that keeping secrets can be either good or bad, but it does not clearly delineate the right and wrong uses of secrets.
The Bible shows that, throughout the history of Israel, political and military secrets were kept. Scripture does not pronounce any moral judgments for or against the keeping of those secrets (e.g., 2 Samuel 15:35–36). However, in the story of Samson and Delilah (Judges 16:4–22), Samson reveals the source of his strength, an act which, based on the aftermath of his admission, was awfully stupid. It was a secret he should have kept.
Esther’s story provides a positive example of someone keeping a secret. Queen Esther’s decision to hide her nationality (Esther 2:20) became an integral part of God’s plan to save His people (Esther 4:13; 7:3–6). The same story also supports the morality of revealing a secret that, if kept hidden, would cause great wrong or serious harm (Esther 2:21–23).
Proverbs, the central book among the “wisdom literature” of the Bible, is the most explicit about keeping secrets. Chapter 11 says that “a man of understanding holds his tongue. A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret” (verse 12–13). So, keeping a secret can be noble. But secrets kept for the wrong reason earn a person the title of “wicked,” for “a wicked man accepts a bribe in secret to pervert the course of justice” (Proverbs 17:23), and “whoever slanders his neighbor in secret, him will I put to silence” (Psalm 101:5).
Keeping secrets of one type is always wrong: trying to hide sin. “He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy” (Proverbs 28:13). When it comes to our sin, God wants full disclosure, and He grants full forgiveness (Isaiah 1:18).
Of course, there’s no use trying to hide our sin from God. Keeping secrets from Him is impossible. He is “the God of gods . . . and a revealer of secrets” (Daniel 2:47, NKJV). Even our “secret sins” are exposed in His light (Psalm 90:8). “For nothing is secret that will not be revealed, nor anything hidden that will not be known and come to light” (Luke 8:17).
God Himself keeps secrets. There are some things—probably many things—hidden from us: “The secret things belong to the LORD our God” (Deuteronomy 29:29). Jesus asked several people to keep miracles He had done secret. For example, Jesus healed two blind men and told them, “See that no one knows about this” (Matthew 9:30). When Job realized the immensity of God’s knowledge, he spoke of “things too wonderful for me to know” (Job 42:3).
We can conclude that God does not consider keeping secrets to be sinful in and of itself. There are some things that people should know and some things they should not. God’s concern is how secrets are used, whether to protect others or to hurt them.