Proverbs 13:2

Eating Good Things or Eating Violence


1. You’ve heard the expression, “You are what you eat.”

2. This passage seems to be teaching, “You eat what you are.”

a. Solomon’s main point seems to be this: good men eat good fruit; sinful, violent men eat violent fruit.

b. You eat what you are… a good man gets to eat good food; an evil man is forced to eat bad food.

c. It is one more angle on an ongoing theme in this book: you reap what you sow… and here the emphasis is on the mouth.

3. This is yet another proverb of contrasts… and the contrasts here are not as apparent as in other passages.

a. “A man” is contrasted to “the soul of transgressors” (this requires us to understand the “man” as the opposite of a transgressor… a righteous man vs. a sinner.

b. “Good” is contrasted to “violence” (this helps flavor an otherwise generic term, “good”)

c. There is no contrast for “the fruit of his mouth.” It is simply being implied. Both have to do with the MOUTH.

2a A man shall eat good by the fruit of his mouth…

1. “A man” here refers to a righteous man… a good man… a godly man. He stands in contrast to the transgressor.

2. “The fruit of his mouth”—

a. Fruit – the produce or product of… that which comes out of his mouth…
• A good tree produces good fruit.
• Matt. 7:17- Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
• Solomon is speaking about a good man… and good fruit comes out of his mouth.

b. Good fruit should come out of our mouths too.
• The tongue is impossible to tame—on our own.
• But the fruit of the Holy Spirit is temperance… self control.
• God demands good fruit from our mouths…
• Jas. 3:8-12 – even nature teaches us that it is UNSEEMLY for a good fountain to produce bitter water… it is unseemly for a good man to produce evil fruit with his mouth!
• Hence, we all need to be reminded of this—for we all offend! (Jas. 3:2) (not we offend all, but we all offend)
• What kind of fruit comes out of YOUR mouth?
• Col. 4:6 – let your speech be always seasoned with grace. (A lesson I need to learn and relearn)
• Ps. 19:14 – ?Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength?, and my redeemer.

c. The good man in this passage has this kind of speech:
• Controlled (James 3)
• Seasoned (Col. 4)
• Acceptable to God (Ps. 14)
• That’s good fruit.

3. This good man EATS of that good fruit.

a. Eating the fruit of something speaks of “enjoying the benefits” of it.

b. This figure of speech is taken from every day life in an agricultural society.
• The man who produces good fruit gets to eat it!
• The fact that he can eat it is his reward for producing it.
• That is the reward for working in the fields and producing good fruit—you get to eat it. You benefit from all of your labors.
• The farmer who does not produce good fruit ends up eating his vile fruit—worms, rotten spots and all!
• But the one who produces GOOD fruit—gets to eat it!
• Instead of saying you REAP what you sow, here the illustration is that you EAT what you grow.

c. For the good man in this proverb, there is a built in REWARD for guarding his tongue… for speaking with grace… for saying that which is well pleasing to the Lord.
• He gets to EAT or enjoy or benefit from the results of such good speech.
• Prov. 15:1a – his speech defuses anger. His reward? A life less cluttered with fighting and wrath… peace! What a great way to live! That’s a happy life.
• Prov. 11:11 – a city is exalted… apply that to your own life—your career—your home life—your ministry—exalted because of a wise use of one’s tongue.
» Ex: at work – the boss who always bad mouths his employees, and speaks rough to them, is not going to have much support or loyalty… but the one who speaks with grace and kindness WILL have a better response…
» The father who builds up his kids will get to eat of that good fruit one day… when they turn out well… well adjusted… and they in turn take care of dad when he is old… he eats the good fruit of his mouth.

• Prov. 12:18 – health! That is the reward for a wise use of one’s tongue—spiritual health… a healthy home… a healthy relationship to folks at work or church…

• Prov. 15:23 – a man hath JOY… a man who has learned the art of wise and timely words will experience good fruit—joy—a life of good relationships and peace.

• Prov. 16:21 – increases learning – this speaks of a person who speaks sweetly with others—maintains good relationships—and thus increases in understanding.
» He is going to get along with his teachers—and thus he will learn more than the troublemaker who is always opposing and yapping away…
» The one who has sweet lips in his speech will also better understand people… and issues… and problems—and thus will be better equipped to solve problems and get on with enjoying life…

• Prov. 21:23 – he keeps his soul from much trouble! This is a great benefit—a prudent use of our tongue will protect us from trouble…
» The big mouth in school gets INTO trouble.
» The good man who produces good fruit with his mouth benefits from that good fruit—he AVOIDS trouble… (staying after school for detention)
» This good man doesn’t have to worry about getting caught lying… or getting discovered as the source of the slander…
» He avoids trouble and enjoys a pure conscience.

• Prov. 12:14 – his speech can bring satisfaction to him… knowing that he used wisdom…
» What good fruit we get to enjoy when we use our mouths wisely. What satisfaction!
» Teaching a Sunday school class—satisfaction of seeing young people grow in the Lord!
» Witnessing—satisfaction of seeing people get saved.
» Comforting—satisfaction from bringing encouragement
» Family devotions—satisfaction of seeing our kids develop good habits and understand spiritual things.

d. The man whose mouth PRODUCES good fruit gets to EAT good fruit—he benefits from it.
• This is only ½ of the story too.
• Those who HEAR the good fruit that comes out of his mouth also benefit—
• But here, Solomon is talking about the benefit to the one speaking.
• Our real MOTIVE ought to be that our tongue benefits others… for the glory of God. But, Solomon points out here that there is also great personal gain from that good habit too!
• This is a fringe benefit of a gracious, controlled tongue.
• If out of our mouths comes forth heavenly manna to feed others—this Proverb states that we too shall be fed with heavenly manna.
• If out of our mouths comes forth corruption, we shall be force fed corruption.

2b But the soul of the transgressors shall eat violence.

1. Now for the contrast.

a. The good man who produces good fruit with his mouth gets to eat or benefit personally from the good fruit his mouth produced!

b. The transgressor also gets to eat the fruit he produces—only his fruit is not sweet… it is bitter… but he has to eat it anyway! He can’t avoid eating it.

2. The transgressor uses his mouth too… and produces evil fruit.

a. Transgressor: treacherous or deceitful man…

b. Violence = violence; cruelty;

c. Prov. 15:1 – instead of turning away wrath and eating the good fruit of peace, the transgressor uses his mouth to stir up anger…
• And as a result, he is FORCED to eat that fruit… fighting, wrath, clamor, etc.
• His built in punishment is that he has to live with the results of an untamed tongue… a home in turmoil… an office full of anger and resentment…

d. I Kings 12:13-16 – The people came to Rehoboam for some tax relief.
• They had been burdened under Solomon’s extensive building projects… they were hurting.
• Instead of using his tongue wisely, he lashed out at the people with his tongue.
• As a result, the nation was split in two! He lost his kingdom and he had to LIVE WITH the results of lashing out with his tongue.
• Don’t you think he later regretted that tongue lashing he gave? But it was too late—the nation was split.
• He had to EAT the fruit of his lips—and that was bitter fruit.

e. Acts 15:39 – the words between Paul and Barnabus were so sharp they had to part company.
• And that argument was recorded for everyone to read for centuries to come.
• Don’t you think they later regretted that dispute? (Or at least the party who was in the wrong—if not both)
• Even if one part was right on the issue that caused the conflict, it appears that no one handled it well.
• No one seemed to use a soft answer—but the contention was sharp… piercing…

f. Prov. 16:27-28 – an ungodly man produces ungodly fruit with his lips… and he has to EAT it.
• His tongue was like a fire and burned the house down. He has to live in the ashes… that’s his punishment.
• His tongue separated chief friends. He now has to live with the guilt of knowing what he did… the hurt he caused… the irreparable damage he caused… and the fear of being discovered. That’s his punishment!
• We reap what we sow. We eat what we grow.