From the fruit of his mouth a man’s stomach is satisfied; he is filled with the product of his lips.
I read this verse recently and to be honest, I didn’t think it made sense. A mouth doesn’t make fruit. Lips don’t produce food. So what is this verse saying? What’s the meaning, assuming there is one. Well, from a biological standpoint, the way to the stomach is through the mouth. And what is the stomach? It’s our appetite. How do we satisfy our appetite? With food, of course. Food that we put in our mouth. So then, the mouth is the conduit we use to satisfy our appetite.
If we have a piece of fruit, we don’t put it on our foot. We don’t rub it on our back. We don’t pick a tomato and squish it in our armpits. That’s silly. Of course, that might confirm what your neighbors already think of you, “Our neighbor, the weirdo,” but it’s just not what we do with fruit, with food. We bite into it, passing it along to our stomach to satisfy our appetite.
Could the verse be helping us to discover and define what we have an appetite for? Not biologically, but spiritually, emotionally, professionally, relationally? Chapter 18 compares the fool and the wise man. The fool does this, the wise man does that. Foolishness is this, wisdom is that. So maybe this verse is advising us to be wise, not foolish, about a few things:
- Being aware of our appetite (illustrated by the man’s stomach)
- What we use to satisfy that appetite (the fruit/ product)
- The conduit we use to get the product where it needs to go (his mouth/ lips)
Let’s say you have an appetite, a hunger, for helping people. One way to satisfy that is to do volunteer work. You sign up with Habitat For Humanity. Do you like being in your car, out on the road? Maybe you sign up to be a driver for Uber or Lyft. What if you have a hunger for wealth? There are many ways to go about that, so you try online trading, flipping a house, or fly to Vegas for a weekend.
In these examples, Habitat for Humanity, driving your car, online trading/Vegas is the fruit. The conduit is volunteering, signing up for Uber or Lyft, and buying stock or going to Vegas.
Clearly there are good and bad ways to go about satisfying your appetite. Just like food, there’s fruit, veggies, healthy things you can eat, but there’s also junk food. The junk food might satisfy you for a second but in the end it does more harm than good. There can be ways to become wealthy, like Vegas for instance. But gambling in general is junk food. Being a getaway driver… not the best way to satisfy your craving for being on the road! Some might say handing out money to panhandlers holding up signs off a highway exit would be the junk food of volunteering.
So what do you have an appetite for? How are you feeding it? Are you looking for healthy, Biblical ways to satisfy your hunger? If so, I’d say you’re being wise…good job! If you’re like me, you’ve found a lot of ways that don’t work and that, my friend, makes us foolish!
Here’s to making wise choices, and eating fruit!
-Out of the Wilderness