Proverbs 10:21

The Lips of the Righteous Feed Many


1. Vs. 18-21 deal with the subject of communication and the use of the tongue.

2. Solomon states the reason God gave for our mouth… to feed others! We often think of the lips or our mouth in relation to BEING FED, not feeding others.

3. He uses an ear-catching phrase to grab our attention… and thus make his point.

21a The lips of the righteous…

A.) There is an Expectation from the Lips of the Righteous

1. There are different expectations from the lips of different people.

2. There is an expectation for the lips of a drunk… for a fool… or a young punk…

3. There is another expectation from the lips of a king… or a statesman… or a university professor… a philosopher…

4. There is also a certain expectation from the lips of a righteous man.

B.) The Lips of Righteous People

1. Prov. 10:11 – the mouth of a righteous man is a well of life.

2. Prov. 10:20 – the tongue of the just is as choice silver.

3. Prov. 10:21 – the lips of the righteous feed many.

4. Prov. 10:32 – the lips of the righteous know what is acceptable.

5. Prov. 15:7 – the lips of the wise disperse knowledge

6. Hence, David and Solomon both outline for us what we ought to EXPECT from the lips of righteous people…

a. If a person is righteous, his speech ought to be righteous.

b. If a person has been sanctified, his lips ought to be sanctified.

c. What God did on the inside in saving us ought to have a very practical effect on the outside… externally — what we do and say.

d. If you have been justified by faith (a righteous person) then your lips ought to show it! There is such a thing as the lips of the righteous!

7. Perhaps you have experienced this: you begin talking to a complete stranger and you begin to think that this person is a believer—even though you have said nothing about being saved or the Bible.

a. Perhaps you discerned a sense of respect and reverence in his speech.

b. Perhaps some term or expression he used (KJV English would be a hint!)

c. Perhaps you noticed that he chose not to be led in a certain direction in the conversation by someone else present.

d. Perhaps the choice of subjects he raises leads you to think he is a righteous man.

e. There really IS an expectation of a particular kind of speech among the righteous.

8. We CAN be fooled.

a. Sometimes an unbeliever may SOUND like a believer—just a moral man with a clean mouth. (Apostate radio preachers often sound good for a while…)

b. Sometimes a believer can have a mouth that does not at all appear to be what Solomon refers to as “the lips of the righteous.”

c. Truck drivers and sailors have bad reputations with respect to their speech. (I think it is a bad rap—I think some of the soccer moms are just as vile!)
• There are truck drivers who have sanctified tongues…
• There are sweet little old ladies with filthy mouths…
• There are some unbelievers who are quite careful about what they say.
• There are some Christians whose speech is a disgrace to the name of Christ.
• We can be fooled. This proverb is a proverb… a general principle.
• Overall, righteous people have righteous lips.
• Sometimes we slip… but overall, the principle stands.
• There is such a thing as the “lips of the righteous.”

21b Feed many…

1. Why did God give you lips (tongue; mouth; speech)?

a. Most of us would say to “talk” or “communicate.”

b. That is partially right.

c. But why did God give us the ability to talk?

d. So that we could use our lips to FEED others.

2. You mouth (lips) is an instrument designed by God to help others.

a. We often think of our tongue in a selfish way… it is for me… to help me… for my enjoyment… to sit around and gab for the mere pleasure of gabbing.

b. Certainly God DID give us our tongue for our own use.

c. But here it is emphasized that there is a greater purpose for our lips… to feed others!

3. The Term “Feed”

a. Feed = pasture; pasturage; pasturing; bring to pasture—the work of a shepherd.
• It is a shepherding term, similar to the Greek word for “shepherding” which is sometimes also translated “Feed.”
• It is primarily used of feeding domestic animals
• The root is used of Jacob “feeding” Laban’s flocks. (Gen. 30:36)

b. The most common occupation in Bible times was shepherding, so this concept would be quite familiar to Solomon and his readers.

c. Shepherds fed their sheep… they led them to still waters… green pastures.

d. The term for feed is broader than just feed… to take to pasture…

e. The term was used in a figurative sense too.
• Jer. 3:15 – pastors feed the people with knowledge and truth.
• Pastor and feed = the same term—noun and verb…
• The term involves that which a shepherd does for his sheep—especially feeding, but other duties are involved as well… caring, leading, guiding, etc…

4. In the Old Testament, God was the one who fed His people.

a. Gen. 48:15 – the God who fed me my whole life!

b. Ps. 23:1 – the Lord is my shepherd…

c. Isa. 40:10-11 – the Lord shall come… and will feed His flock like a Shepherd… gather the lambs… gently lead…

d. In the Theocracy, God “shepherded” His people by means of the king. The kings of Israel were to be good shepherds under God. (II Sam. 5:2 – David)

e. God used men (like the kings) to shepherd or feed His people.

5. Solomon states that ALL righteous men should use their lips to feed others. In fact, God uses all believers to “feed” His sheep… not just the pastor and elders.

a. That’s what our lips are for according to Prov. 10:21!

b. Do you use your lips to feed others?

c. The Bible has a lot to say about using our lips for the benefit of others.

6. HOW can you use your lips/mouth to feed others?

a. Teaching…
• Prov. 15:7 – the lips of the righteous disperse knowledge.
• Col. 3:16 – we are to use our mouths to teach and admonish one another… but FIRST, we must let the Word dwell in us richly! Is it dwelling in you richly? If so, then you can feed many with your lips!
• Prov. 15:28 – a righteous man studies to answer. This well thought out answer will be of great help to others… you are feeding them!
• Ps. 89:1 – with my mouth will I make known His faithfulness.
• Ps. 71:15 – my mouth will show forth His righteousness all day—I know not the numbers of them all!
• Ps. 119:27 – each of us can share what God has taught us in His word.

b. Comforting…
• Job 16:1-5 – Job could have torn his so-called friends to pieces. Instead he would use his tongue to strengthen them and comfort them. A good use for our tongues too!
• That’s what our tongues are for—when we see someone suffering!
• II Cor. 1:3-4 – God uses us to comfort others… by the WORDS we say to them… to lift up… encourage… strengthen…
• We all need comforting from the Word—not just the women and children either.
• We get weary, tired, worn, stressed, worried, fearful, anxious — and there is nothing as comforting as a believer sharing an appropriate verse of Scripture—especially if they have gone through a similar trial!

c. Exhorting… we can exhort one another… to love and good works… to faithfulness… to serve God… there is no end to the ways in which we can use our lips to exhort others…

d. Admonish… (mild rebuke; warn) (Rom. 15:14)
• Note the prerequisite! FILLED with goodness…
• What great benefit can spring from the mouth of the believer who uses his/her lips to admonish another and keep him on the straight and narrow.

e. Counsel… Prov. 11:14 – in many counselors there is safety.
• You don’t need to be a professional counselor to counsel the brethren.
• You just have to have some pertinent Scripture to share!
• It may not even be scripture—just wise observations from life!
• That’s what Pastor Stringer is doing—
• Titus 2:3-4 – older women giving counsel to younger women… older men giving advice and counsel to younger men… this is God’s plan.

f. Minister grace… (Eph. 4:29)
• Grace here seems to be used in a broad sense… something good… a good gift… undeserved, but freely given… the gift of our tongue.
• Unwholesome speech grieves the Holy Spirit. (vs. 30) Good speech pleases the Spirit of God. It is the fruit of the Spirit in us!
• The goal of our speech ought to be to “the use of edifying”… building one another up… strengthening one another…
• Try it sometime!

g. Getting results…. (Ecc. 9:17) The words of a wise man are often HEARD!
• If you have earned the right to counsel a brother… and have demonstrated spiritual discernment and wisdom THEN he might be willing to listen and respond!
• Your quiet words… words spoken one on one… are more valuable than the loud shouts of fools!

h.) Spreading the gospel… (Eph. 6:19 – pray for boldness to open our mouths!)
• This of course is a way in which we can feed to others the bread of life!
• How rewarding when people respond in faith and are saved!

21c Fools die for want of wisdom…

1. The lips of the righteous feed others.

2. The fool uses his mouth to feed himself—but he does not have good taste in food!

a. The fool feeds on folly (Prov. 15:14)

b. The fool feeds on ashes (Isa. 44:20)

c. The fool feeds the flames of gossip. (Prov. 26:20-21)

3. Solomon has not much use for the fool…

4. The righteous man builds up the spiritual lives of others. The fool dies… destroys his own life… and perhaps drags a few down with him!

a. He lacks wisdom for his own life.

b. He has none to share with others… no wise counsel… nothing worth teaching… no good exhortation… no edification… no grace…