- Dr. Stieglitz
Breakfast with Solomon - Proverbs 10:11
"The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence."
Notice the contrast between the results of the righteous' words and the results of the wicked person’s words. The righteous person produces life and that which is positive. The wicked person's words hide what they are really doing which will destroy. Somewhere they are forcing their way or inviting violence. This is very important to realize that words have real impact and can change the course of someone's life. Wise righteous words bring life and increased harmony with others. Wicked words impose one person's will on another often through violence or its threat. Wicked words destroy harmony and creativity because it desires rigid conformity.
fountain of life
This is the Hebrew word maqor haya. One must realize the significance of fountains in the biblical time period 1,000 years before Christ. There were no decorative fountains as we know them today. A fountain meant that there was a spring pushing water out of the earth. This type of water was a fresh water source of pure water. Sources of clean, pure water were incredibly valuable in an arid place like Israel. Life could be sustained and developed around a spring. In fact, whole villages were birthed around springs because the water was so important. Solomon is saying that same thing about words that come from a righteous person. Others draw life from the positive comments and encouragement and direction that come from the righteous person. People want to be near this source of life. Is this true for you? Do people find so much encouragement and positive help that they just hang around you? Is your desk, your home, your table a place where people find encouragement and hope?
One of the things that Solomon is implying is that righteous people have a positive impact on their environment. Things and people get better around them. Is that true for you? What types of things could you say to the people you know that would speak life, encouragement, and hope into their life? This is what happens when righteous people speak. Do people have hope when they leave you?
Clearly, what Solomon is suggesting is that when a wicked person speaks, they are all about winning for themselves. What advice and direction they give usually results in someone else being moved out of the way, pushed aside, defeated.
This is the Hebrew word hamas, which means violence or forceful wrongdoing. A different word is used for force applied to do right. It is interesting that this is the word for the Palestinian group that uses violence in an effort to overthrow the nation Israel. In the Scripture wickedness and violence are together. The one brings the other; the one uses the other. Just as the Mafia has to use violence to accomplish its protection rackets and enforce discipline, the violence comes with the desire to profit through sin. This is a way to see wickedness from a distance. Is their violence needed or integral to the activity?
It is interesting that here Solomon says that the words of the wicked are hiding violence. There is implicit force and pressure in the words of the wicked person. There is no hope, encouragement, or blossoming in the words of a person who has given themselves to wickedness. There is “I want my way and I am going to get it even if I have to take, shove, oppress, afflict you to do it.” Some people cover their wickedness in respectability and the violence is concealed, but it is still there. “I want you to do what I want that profits me and damages you.” This orientation is wickedness no matter how "respectable" it may be portrayed.
When people are empowered to do good things, to enjoy righteous relationships, to make beneficial choices, to develop healthy relationships, this is evidence of life and is the result of righteous words. When people's dreams are crushed for someone else’s greed or goals, when people are being blocked from having necessities, when people are kept from pursuing beneficial goals to serve other’s selfish goals, this is wickedness and grows out of the commands and words of a wicked person.
Do your words bring life? Hope? Relational health? Joy? If so, great. Keep going...
Let me say a word to teenagers at this point. You may be tempted to apply this to your parents and not to yourself. That would be a mistake. Your reaction to your parents’ rules, directives, commands, and the like will live out this verse also. Your words can bring life or conceal violence. Now, if your parents are seeking to oppress you for their clearly evil and wicked purposes, then your appealing to a higher authority for help is appropriate and needed. But if your seeking of your own selfish purposes cause you to conceal a seething violence just below the surface of your responses to them, then you are one who is bringing death to your home. You can bring harmony to your home. Become a fountain of life. Realize that your parents want the best for you, not the worst.
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