Today, let us consider Proverbs 10:21. The NASB renders this as “The lips of the righteous feed many, but fools die for lack of understanding.”
This is another verse that illustrates how taking the Bible to mean what it says is not taking every word exactly literally. If you wish to make Biblical interpretation a matter of wooden literal response, you would assume that righteous people have big lips that should be eaten.
Obviously, that’s nonsense. Or at least should be obviously nonsense. Those of us who claim to take the Bible as saying what it means and meaning what it says would never argue to take symbolic matters literally—or literal matters symbolically. That is where cautious study of Scripture in context, including the appropriate cultural-linguistic background study, comes to bear.
If we want to avoid seeking righteous people’s lips to eat, how should we understand this?
Well, what comes from the lips, or mouth, of the righteous? Wisdom. Sound teaching. Valuable insights. Helpful, encouraging words. These words, these practices, build up people.
It can be as simple as the righteous being willing to share the knowledge of how to plant a seed, or as complex as the righteous sharing how to construct an economic system that allows many to flourish. However, righteousness helps establish good things.
Wickedness, on the other hand, leads to foolishness. Which kills. Unfortunately, usually foolishness kills others first, but it does eventually kill the fool himself.
What will you choose, then? Righteousness or foolishness?