Proverbs 18:21
Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.
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(21) Death and life are in the power of the tongue.—See above on Proverbs 4:23, where much the same power is attributed to the heart as is here given to the tongue as being its exponent. (Comp. also Proverbs 12:13.)

They that love it—i.e., to use it.

Proverbs 18:21. Life and death are in the power of the tongue — Are brought upon men by the good or bad use of their tongues; and they that love it — Namely, the tongue; that love much talking; shall eat the fruit thereof — Shall receive either good or evil according to the quality of their speeches.18:19. Great care must be taken to prevent quarrels among relations and those under obligations to each other. Wisdom and grace make it easy to forgive; but corruption makes it difficult. 20. The belly is here put for the heart, as elsewhere; and what that is filled with, our satisfaction will be accordingly, and our inward peace. 21. Many a one has caused his own death, or the death of others, by a false or injurious tongue. 22. A good wife is a great blessing to a man, and it is a token of Divine favour. 23. Poverty tells men they must not order or demand. And at the throne of God's grace we are all poor, and must use entreaties. 24. Christ Jesus never will forsake those who trust in and love him. May we be such friends to others, for our Master's sake. Having loved his own, which were in the world, he loved them unto the end; and we are his friends if we do whatever he commands us, Joh 15:14.The general sense is plain. A man must for good or evil take the consequence of his words, as well as his deeds. Compare the marginal reference. 21. Death and life—or, the greatest evil and good.

that love it—that is, the tongue, or its use for good or evil.

eat … fruit—(Compare Pr 18:19; Jas 1:19).

Are in the power of the tongue; are brought upon men by the good or bad use of their tongues.

That love it; either,

1. The tongue; that love and use much talking, which is oft censured as a sin, and a cause of mischief. See Proverbs 10:19 Jam 1:19. Or,

2. The use of their tongue in either of those ways, which are plainly supposed in the former clause of the verse: they who do not only speak well, which a wicked man may sometimes do; or speak ill, which a good man may possibly do; but do love, and therefore accustom themselves, to speak well or ill.

Shall eat the fruit thereof; shall receive either good or evil, according to the quality of their speeches. Death and life are in the power of the tongue,.... Of witnesses, according to the testimony they bear; of judges, according to the sentence they pass; of teachers, according to the doctrine they preach; of all men, who, by their well or ill speaking, bring death or life to themselves and others. Some, by their tongues, by the too free use of them, or falsehood they utter, are the cause of death to themselves and others; and some, by their silence, or by their prudent speech and prevalent intercession, secure or obtain life for themselves and others; yea, judgment at the last day will proceed according to a man's words, "By thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned", Matthew 12:37; the tongue is the instrument either of a great deal of good, or of a great deal of evil;

and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof; that delight to be talkative; that love to use the tongue, whether in a good or in a bad way, shall accordingly be recompensed; shall enjoy the advantages or disadvantages arising from it.

Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that {o} love it shall eat the fruit of it.

(o) By the using the tongue well or evil, comes the fruit of it either good or bad.

21. love it] i.e. delight in using it, as an instrument either of “death” or of “life.”Verse 21. - Death and life are in the power of the tongue; literally, in the hand of the tongue. The tongue, according as it is used, deals forth life or death; for speech is the picture of the mind (comp. Proverbs 12:18; Proverbs 26:28). The vast importance of our words may be learned from James 3; and our blessed Lord says expressly (Matthew 12:36, etc.), "Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned." Hence the gnome -

Γλῶσσα τύχη γλῶσσα δαίμων

intimating that the tongue is the real controller of man's destiny; and another -

Λόγῳ διοικεῖται βροτῶν βίος μόνῳ

By words alone is life of mortals swayed." And they that love it (the tongue) shall eat the fruit thereof. They who use it much must abide the consequences of their words, whether by kind and pure and edifying conversation they contribute health and life to themselves and others, or whether by foul, calumnious, corrupting language they involve themselves and others in mortal sin. For "they that love it," the Septuagint has, οἱ κρατοῦντες αὐτῆς, "they who get the mastery over it." 15 The heart of a man of understanding gaineth knowledge,

     And the ear of the wise seeketh after knowledge.

נבון may be also interpreted as an adj., but we translate it here as at Proverbs 14:33, because thus it corresponds with the parallelism; cf. לב צדּיק, Proverbs 15:28, and לב חכם, Proverbs 16:23, where the adject. interpretation is excluded. The gaining of wisdom is, after Proverbs 17:16, referred to the heart: a heart vigorous in embracing and receiving it is above all necessary, and just such an one possesses the נבון, which knows how to value the worth and usefulness of such knowledge. The wise, who are already in possession of such knowledge, are yet at the same time constantly striving to increase this knowledge: their ear seeks knowledge, eagerly asking where it is to be found, and attentively listening when the opportunity is given of מצא, obtaining it.

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