With the fruit of a man's mouth his stomach will be satisfied; He will be satisfied with the product of his lips. Proverbs 18:20
Here we have a proverb that mixes metaphors. As a result it could be confusing to some. But a closer examination gives us a wonderful instruction about what our mouths and words bring to us. The mixed metaphors walk between what is coming out of our mouths and lips - and what we receive as a result.
Much of our struggle to understand this passage is solved when we look at the Hebrew concept of the belly or stomach. This word is used early in this proverb, "With the fruit of a man's mouth his stomach will be satisfied." The word for "stomach" is "beten" which means belly, womb, stomach - but also was used figuratively of the inmost part of man, the place where thoughts were treasured - or - where the inner spiritual self was expressed or satisfied. In Job 32:17-20 Elihu spoke like this. He said, "I too will answer my share, I also will tell my opinion. "For I am full of words; The spirit within me constrains me. "Behold, my belly is like unvented wine, Like new wineskins it is about to burst. "Let me speak that I may get relief; Let me open my lips and answer." Note how Elihu spoke of his belly as he would his heart and spirit. The only thing that gave him relief was to speak and open his lips with an answer to all he heard from Job and his three friends. This is what Solomon speaks of as he says that from the fruit of a man's mouth his stomach will be satisfied. Here the stomach refers to the inner workings of his inner spiritual life.
What is said here is that how we speak to others will in great measure help determine what we ourselves are going to be receiving. This is not name it and claim it talk - saying that whatever we say in God's name we can have - claiming it all from Him. This instead speaks of a way that we are either blessed or not by how we speak to others. Speak kindness and lovingly toward others and you will find that what you will receive is reciprocal kindness and love. You will be satisified with what comes back upon you. Speak graciously toward those around you - and graciousness will most likely be what you receive. But if you speak out bitter, resentful, and hurtful words - do not be shocked to see that others will speak in a like manner to you.
Our mouths can pave the road of our lives with smooth pavement - or with large rocks. It all depends on how we speak. Speak kindly - and most often those around you will love you and appreciate what you say and how you live. Speak in an ungodly fashion, with harsh, unkind words - and you will have spiritual heartburn. Others will react badly at your evil words and will grant you what you've given to them. Much of the reaction of others to what we say can be gauged by how we say it. Some can even bring bad news - yet because of the spirit in which it is brought the recipient does not react badly. Come with harshness and you will be resented or even cursed by the one who has received it.
Remember that it is out of the abundance of our heart that our mouth speaks. Therefore guard your heart closely - because it is the gate-keeper of your mouth. If you wait to speak and think first - you will speak words that are far less incindiary. They will also be words that are treasured by those who hear them. May God always remind us that the right kind of words - spoken in the right spirit - offered for the right motives - will bless others - and will be the souce of much joy. May we become men and women of such wisdom and such words.
Proverb a Day
Each day, we'll take a look at a verse from the chapter of Proverbs for the day. Our hope is to gain wisdom each day - and from that wisdom - to have understanding to make godly decisions in the throes of everyday life.
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