Proverbs 16:26
Parallel Verses
New International Version
The appetite of laborers works for them; their hunger drives them on.

New Living Translation
It is good for workers to have an appetite; an empty stomach drives them on.

English Standard Version
A worker’s appetite works for him; his mouth urges him on.

New American Standard Bible
A worker's appetite works for him, For his hunger urges him on.

King James Bible
He that laboureth laboureth for himself; for his mouth craveth it of him.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
A worker's appetite works for him because his hunger urges him on.

International Standard Version
The appetite of the laborer motivates him; indeed, his hunger drives him on.

NET Bible
A laborer's appetite works on his behalf, for his hunger urges him to work.

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
The soul of a sufferer makes him sick and from the mouth of his soul destruction comes to him.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
A laborer's appetite works to his advantage, because his hunger drives him on.

Jubilee Bible 2000
The soul of him that labours, labours for himself; for his mouth craves it of him.

King James 2000 Bible
He that labors labors for himself; for his mouth craves it of him.

American King James Version
He that labors labors for himself; for his mouth craves it of him.

American Standard Version
The appetite of the laboring man laboreth for him; For his mouth urgeth him thereto .

Douay-Rheims Bible
The soul of him that laboureth, laboureth for himself, because his mouth hath obliged him to it.

Darby Bible Translation
The appetite of the labourer laboureth for him, for his mouth urgeth him on.

English Revised Version
The appetite of the labouring man laboureth for him; for his mouth craveth it of him.

Webster's Bible Translation
He that laboreth laboreth for himself; for his mouth craveth it of him.

World English Bible
The appetite of the laboring man labors for him; for his mouth urges him on.

Young's Literal Translation
A labouring man hath laboured for himself, For his mouth hath caused him to bend over it.
Parallel Commentaries
Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary

16:12. The ruler that uses his power aright, will find that to be his best security. 13. Put those in power who know how to speak to the purpose. 14,15. Those are fools, who, to obtain the favour of an earthly prince, throw themselves out of God's favour. 16. There is joy and satisfaction of spirit, only in getting wisdom. 17. A sincerely religious man keeps at a distance from every appearance of evil. Happy is the man that walks in Christ, and is led by the Spirit of Christ. 18. When men defy God's judgments, and think themselves far from them, it is a sign they are at the door. Let us not fear the pride of others, but fear pride in ourselves. 19. Humility, though it exposes to contempt in the world, is much better than high-spiritedness, which makes God an enemy. He that understands God's word shall find good. 21. The man whose wisdom dwells in his heart, will be found more truly prudent than many who possess shining talents. 22. As waters to a thirsty land, so is a wise man to his friends and neighbours. 23. The wise man's self-knowledge, always suggests something proper to be spoken to others. 24. The word of God cures the diseases that weaken our souls. 25. This is caution to all, to take heed of deceiving themselves as to their souls. 26. We must labour for the meat which endureth to everlasting life, or we must perish.

Pulpit Commentary

Verse 26. - He that laboureth laboureth for himself; literally, the soul of him that laboureth laboureth for him. "Soul" here is equivalent to "desire," "appetite" (comp. Proverbs 6:30), and the maxim signifies that hunger is a strong incentive to work - the needs of the body spur the labourer to diligence and assiduity; he eats bread in the sweat of his brow (Genesis 3:19). Says the Latin gnome -

"Largitor artium, ingeniique magister Venter."

"The belly is the teacher of all arts,
The parent of invention."
De tout s'avise a qui pain faut, "He who wants bread thinks of everything." There is our own homely saw, "Need makes the old wife trot;" as the Italians say, "Hunger sets the dog a-hunting" (Kelly). For his mouth craveth it of him; his mouth must have food to put in it. The verb אָכַפ (akaph) does not occur elsewhere; it means properly "to bend," and then to put a load on, to constrain to press. So here, "His mouth bends over him, i.e. urgeth him thereto" (Revised Version). Ecclesiastes 6:7, "All labour of man is for his mouth;" we should say stomach. Hunger in some sense is the great stimulus of all work. "We commanded you," says St. Paul (2 Thessalonians 3:10), "that if any would not work, neither should he eat." There is a spiritual hunger without which grace cannot be sought or obtained - that hungering and thirsting after righteousness of which Christ speaks, and which he who is the Bread of life is ready to satisfy (Matthew 5:6; John 6:58). The Septuagint expands the maxim: "A man in labours labours for himself, and drives away (ἐκβιάζεται) his own destruction; but the perverse man upon his own mouth carrieth destruction."

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

He that laboureth, laboureth for himself,.... Man is born for labour; it is a part of the curse inflicted on him for sin; and his condition and circumstances are such as make it necessary, for such who will not work ought not to eat; and it is labouring for food and raiment which is here meant, and that is for a man's self; for if he labours to be rich and lay up money, and purchase estates, these are more for others than himself, and indeed he knows not for whom he labours. It is indeed in the original, "the soul of him that labours (l), labours for himself"; and it may be understood of the labour of, the soul for spiritual things, for spiritual food, for that meat which endures to everlasting life; and may intend the various exercises of religion in which men employ themselves, that they may have food for their souls, and grow thereby; such as praying, reading the Scriptures, attending on the ministry of the word and ordinances: and this labouring is for themselves; for the good and welfare of their immortal souls, for their spiritual prosperity, for the nourishing of them up unto everlasting life. It may be applied to Gospel ministers, who labour in the Lord's vineyard, in the word and doctrine; and though in the first place they labour to promote the glory of God and the interest of Christ, and the good of souls, yet it also turns to their own account; and indeed they labour to be accepted of the Lord, and at last shall hear, "Well done, good and faithful Servant; enter into the joy of thy Lord", Matthew 25:23. Some render the words, "he that is troublesome is troublesome to himself" (m), as such an one is, not only to others, but to himself also; he is the cause of great disquietude to his own mind;

for his mouth craveth it of him: that he should labour, in order to satisfy his appetite; for "all the labour of man is for his mouth", to feed that and fill his belly, Ecclesiastes 6:7; or "his mouth boweth unto him" (n); it is as it were an humble supplicant to him, entreating: him to labour to get food for it, and satisfy its wants; or as a beast bows down to feed itself; or "boweth upon him" (o); it obliges him, as the Vulgate Latin version; it compels him, whether he will or not, to work, its necessities are so pressing: and this holds good in spiritual things; a man's mouth, or spiritual appetite, puts him upon the use of means of spiritual exercises, without which he must otherwise be in a starving condition; and is true of the ministers of the word, whose mouth obliges them; as it were; they cannot but speak the things they have heard and seen: or "his mouth reflects upon him"; upon the man that has been troublesome to himself and others; the Targum is,

"for from his mouth humiliation shall come to him;''

or his destruction, as the Syriac version.

(l) "anima laborantis", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus, Piscator, Mercerus, Gejerus, Michaelis; "anima laboriosi", Cocceius. (m) "Ipse molestus molestiam affert sibi", Junius & Tremellius. (n) "incurvavit se ei os suum", Pagninus; "incurvat se ei os suum"; Mercerus, Gejerus. (o) "Inflexit se super eum os suum", Montanus; "innititur super cum", Vatablus.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

26. Diligence is a duty due to one's self, for his wants require labor.

Proverbs 16:26 Additional Commentaries
The Tongue's Answer is from the Lord
25There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death. 26A worker's appetite works for him, For his hunger urges him on. 27A worthless man digs up evil, While his words are like scorching fire.…
Cross References
Proverbs 16:25
There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.

Proverbs 16:27
A scoundrel plots evil, and on their lips it is like a scorching fire.

Ecclesiastes 6:7
Everyone's toil is for their mouth, yet their appetite is never satisfied.
Treasury of Scripture

He that labors labors for himself; for his mouth craves it of him.


Proverbs 9:12 If you be wise, you shall be wise for yourself: but if you scorn, …

Proverbs 14:23 In all labor there is profit: but the talk of the lips tends only to penury.

Ecclesiastes 6:7 All the labor of man is for his mouth, and yet the appetite is not filled.

1 Thessalonians 4:11,12 And that you study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and …

2 Thessalonians 3:8-12 Neither did we eat any man's bread for nothing; but worked with labor …

craveth it of him boweth unto him

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