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The Righteous One Is a Guide to Life While the Foolish One Cannot Save His Own Life
Proverbs 10:21 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
21 The lips of the righteous feed many,
but fools die for want of heart.
The lips of the righteous feed many: Just as lips were used in verses 18-19 to refer to words and speech, so it is with verses 21 here, but leaning more specifically toward words of counsel, advice, or instruction. The Hebrew verb (רָעָה raah) that is rendered feed means giving food to, providing food for a flock, or caring for any need for a flock such a grazing pasture, to be a shepherd with authority over his flock. In this case, the metaphor is basically saying that a righteous person who is in a position of leadership (e.g., a king), who offers words of counsel, advice, or instruction will be of benefit (feed) to those people who hear (obey) them.
but fools die for want of heart: Fools: The Hebrew adjective here (אֱוִיל evil) refers to a foolish person who lacks good judgment. A person who is a fool, simpleton, i.e., a person without understanding, often by stubborn will and stupid behavior. The Hebrew idiom want of heart (בַּחֲסַר־לֵב bachasar-leb) refers to a person who lacks or has an inadequate amount of good sense. The heart (לֵב leb) in this equation is the locus of a person’s thoughts, mind, volition, emotions, and knowledge of right and wrong (conscience). A Hebrew noun (כְּסִיל kesil) refers to one who hates knowledge as he lacks good judgment. Their character is stupidity and rudeness, that is, one who completely lacks understanding, who is rebellious in his ways. Foolishness: (אִוֶּלֶת ivveleth) The foolishness of the foolish one, who has the trait of acting stupidly or rashly because he is devoid of wisdom or understanding, the Hebrew noun focusing on the evil behaviors which occur in this state. The fool is incapable of taking care of himself or others because he has want (lack) of heart; he lacks good sense and understanding, so he dies, as does anyone who would be so stupid to listen to him.
The righteous one is a blessing to those who heed his words of counsel, advice, or instruction. How does the righteous one feed (guide) many? The Hebrew verb (רָעָה raah) that means to gibe food to is used here conveys the idea of shepherding. It has the thought of guiding as well as nourishing, just as the shepherd of ancient times took care of his sheep. (1 Samuel 16:11; Psalm 23:1-3; Song of Solomon 1:7) This metaphor represents perfectly how a righteous person, with his words of counsel, advice, or instruction, can also guide others to the path of righteousness. His speech nourishes (feeds) those who listen to (obey) him. This results in many people hearing his voice, and so leading happier, more satisfying lives. Later inspired words of the Son of God and New Testament authors speak of these righteous ones receiving eternal life.
What, though, of the foolish one? Because he is in want of heart, meaning he lacks good sense, judgment, and understanding, which results in his having no good motive or concern about the consequences of his decisions that impact his life. He simply does whatever he wants, unaware or uncaring about the consequences of his decisions until they are upon him; then, he says, “why me.” Hence, he himself is a revolving door of selfish, self-centered bad decisions, which cause him to suffer the penalties of his actions. While the righteous one is busy guiding others to life with his words of counsel, advice, or instruction, the foolish one, in want of heart, cannot even keep himself alive. Put more bluntly; the righteous, wise one guides others to life; the fool, who is empty-headed and empty-hearted, leads others as well as himself to destruction.
 Or sense; understanding
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