Breakfast with Solomon - Proverbs 18:20
"With the fruit of a man's mouth his stomach will be satisfied; he will be satisfied with the product of his lips"
Solomon focuses attention on the place where the greatest blessings either flow into our life or are destroyed: our mouth. He has been talking about contentions and offenses. Almost all of these are made with the mouth: what was said; how it was said; why it seemed to be said; where it was said; to whom it was said; when it was said.
fruit of a man's mouth
The Hebrew word fruit is peri, which means that which is grown by a tree. It often has a metaphorical meaning in Scripture: the results of an action. It moves into this realm in this proverb. It is the analogy or picture that Solomon is trying to paint – not the specific words in this part of the proverb – that will yield great insight. He is saying that what you say will bear fruit. Your words will have a result in other people. It is what your words grow in the other person that will allow you to eat and have a good life.
If what you say causes a bitter mold to grow in the other person towards you, then you will not have a good result in life or business. If what you say results in others having a positive perspective and encouraging day, then you will be blessed with a good life. One of the things that people consistently overlook is that what you say to and about people determines how they treat you. People skills are the key skills for getting ahead in a world full of people.
Ask yourself the question: What happens in and to the other person when I am done talking? Are people encouraged, comforted, directed, uplifted, etc? Or are people put down, discouraged, criticized, angry, frustrated? Many people are unwilling to admit that the way they talk and what they say regularly produces anger, frustration, and tension in other people. The people who do this tell themselves that they are only telling others the truth; they just don't want to hear it. What we need to admit is that we can produce a wonderful crop from what we say, or we can produce a bitter crop from what we say. It is up to us, not necessarily up to the person listening. Remember, the person listening will receive the seeds of our conversation and grow what we said and give it back to us.
This is the Hebrew word beten for belly or center of the body. The translators have chosen to use stomach. This word is also used for womb. This word is used as the physical place of the emotions and potentially the location of the soul. The Jews perceived that strong emotions and life was centered in the central portion of the body. It is most likely that Solomon was using this idiomatic expression, the fruit of beten, as a way of saying that this is all you need for life as well as the actual food that you need to eat and sustain life.
He is saying that your life is the product of what you say. If you say things that consistently tick people off, then you will have one kind of life. If you say things that regularly bless imperfect people, then you will have a different kind of life. One of the things that must be embraced is that people are imperfect. They will act selfishly and poorly. They will make mistakes and be boorish, but still they are the keys as to whether we have a good life or a bad one. Almost every job has the phrase: This would be a great job if it weren’t for the people.But it is the people that determine the success of your life. Solomon is pointing out that it is your words that connect you in a positive or negative way to the people that determine your success.
This is the Hebrew word sabea, which means satisfied or full of nourishment.
This is the Hebrew word tebua, which means produce, product, yield.
Solomon is stating the same truth in two slightly different ways. What you say is the greatest single determiner of the life you will live. Some will take this to mean that flattery and manipulation is the order of the day. This cannot be what Solomon means. He advocates living within the boundaries of righteousness. It is possible to be positive and encouraging without moving into flattery. Flattery is praising someone for things that are not true. Praise is thanks, gratitude, and notice for things that are true.
It is unfortunate that many people today have been trained by our culture that we can and should just let fly with whatever comes to our minds. Watch over what you say for your words will determine the life you lead.