Proverbs 10:21
The lips of the righteous feed many: but fools die for want of wisdom.
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(21) The lips of the righteous feed many—i.e., sustain them by words of counsel, encouragement, and comfort, giving to each one his “meat in due season “(Matthew 24:45).

Fools.—Headstrong, obstinate persons (Proverbs 1:7).

For want of wisdom.—Or it may be translated, “Through one who is destitute of wisdom.” As one righteous man will guide many aright, so one unwise man will lead many fools to ruin.

10:7. Both the just and the wicked must die; but between their souls there is a vast difference. 8. The wise in heart puts his knowledge in practice. 9. Dissemblers, after all their shuffling, will be exposed. 10. Trick and artifice will be no excuse for iniquity. 11. The good man's mouth is always open to teach, comfort, and correct others. 12. Where there is hatred, every thing stirs up strife. By bearing with each other, peace and harmony are preserved. 13. Those that foolishly go on in wicked ways, prepare rods for themselves. 14. Whatever knowledge may be useful, we must lay it up, that it may not be to seek when we want it. The wise gain this wisdom by reading, by hearing the word, by meditation, by prayer, by faith in Christ, who is made of God unto us wisdom. 15. This refers to the common mistakes both of rich and poor, as to their outward condition. Rich people's wealth exposes them to many dangers; while a poor man may live comfortably, if he is content, keeps a good conscience, and lives by faith. 16. Perhaps a righteous man has no more than what he works hard for, but that labour tends to life. 17. The traveller that has missed his way, and cannot bear to be told of it, and to be shown the right way, must err still. 18. He is especially a fool who thinks to hide anything from God; and malice is no better. 19. Those that speak much, speak much amiss. He that checks himself is a wise man, and therein consults his own peace. 20,21. The tongue of the just is sincere, freed from the dross of guile and evil design. Pious discourse is spiritual food to the needy. Fools die for want of a heart, so the word is; for want of thought.Feed - The Hebrew word, like ποιμαίνειν poimainein, includes the idea of guiding as well as nourishing; doing a shepherd's work in both.

For want of wisdom - Some prefer, through him who wanteth understanding, referring to a person. The wise guides others to safety; the fool, empty-headed, and empty-hearted, involves others like himself in destruction.

21. Fools not only fail to benefit others, as do the righteous, but procure their own ruin (compare Pr 10:11, 17; Ho 4:6). Feed many, by their wise and pious discourses, counsels, and comforts, which are so many evidences of their wisdom.

Die for want of wisdom; they have not wisdom to feed or preserve themselves, much less to feed others.

The lips of the righteous feed many,.... Not their bodies; words are but wind, and will not feed; it is not enough to say to the distressed, "be ye warmed and filled", and give nothing; unless this can be understood of obtaining food for others by their prayers, as Jarchi interprets it: but the souls of many; these the righteous feed, by communicating the spiritual knowledge and understanding of divine things they are partakers of; by setting before them the bread of life, the honey and milk of the Gospel, they have under their tongue; and by the good counsel and advice, comforts and admonitions, they give them; see Jeremiah 3:15;

but fools die for want of wisdom: not a corporeal death, which is common to men of every rank and quality; wise men die even as fools; but they continue under the power of a spiritual death, for want of enlightening and quickening grace, and so die an eternal death: not for want of natural wisdom, which they may have a greater share of than those who live spiritually and eternally; but for want of spiritual wisdom and knowledge; the knowledge of Christ, and the way of life and salvation by him, and the knowledge of God in Christ; and not always for the want of the means of such wisdom and knowledge; as the Scriptures, which are able to make a man wise unto salvation; and the Gospel, which is the wisdom of God in a mystery; but through the neglect and contempt of them: though sometimes men perish through want of the means of knowledge, and the neglect of those who should instruct them, Hosea 4:6.

The lips of the righteous {i} feed many: but fools die for lack of wisdom.

(i) For they speak truth and edify many by exhortations, admonition and counsel.

21. feed] In the wider sense perhaps which the word commonly has, supply the wants of, as a shepherd does.

Verse 21. - Feed many. The righteous by wise counsel teach, support, and guide others (Ecclesiastes 12:11; Jeremiah 3:15). So the clergy are the shepherds of their flocks (John 21:15; Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:2). The LXX. has a different reading, "know high things." Fools die for want of wisdom. Far from "feeding" others, they bring ruin on themselves (Proverbs 5:23). Others translate, "die through one who wanteth understanding;" but if the Hebrew will bear this rendering, it is obvious that fools need no guide to their fall; their fate is a natural result. In this case the meaning must be that the foolish man involves others in destruction. But it is best to translate as the Authorized Version. Proverbs 10:2121 The lips of the righteous edify many;

     But fools die through want of understanding.

The lxx translate 21a: the lips of the righteous ἐπίσταται ὑψηλά, which would at least require ידעו רבות. רעה is, like the post-bibl. pirneec (vid., the Hebr. Rmerbrief, p. 97), another figure for the N.T. οἰκοδομεῖν: to afford spiritual nourishment and strengthening, to which Fleischer compares the ecclesiastical expressions: pastor, ovile ecclesiae, les ouailles; רעה means leader, Jeremiah 10:21, as well as teacher, Ecclesiastes 12:11, for it contains partly the prevailing idea of leading, partly of feeding. ירעוּ stands for תּרעינה, as Proverbs 10:32, Proverbs 5:2. In 21b, Bertheau incorrectly explains, as Euchel and Michaelis: stulti complures per dementem unum moriuntur; the food has truly enough in his own folly, and needs not to be first drawn by others into destruction. חסר is not here the connective form of חסר (Jewish interpreters: for that reason, that he is such an one), nor of חסר (Hitzig, Zckler), which denotes, as a concluded idea, penuria, but like רחב, Proverbs 21:4, שׁכב, Proverbs 6:10, and שׁפל, Proverbs 16:19, infin.: they die by want of understanding (cf. Proverbs 5:23); this amentia is the cause of their death, for it leads fools to meet destruction without their observing it (Hosea 4:6).

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