Check out these insights by Bruce Waltke, on Proverbs 10:11, a verse that includes this nugget:
“The mouth of the righteous is a well of life.”
The dependence of life on water is experienced existentially all over the earth, especially in the ancient Near East, where it is in short supply. Flowing well water is particularly precious, and people gather around it. The open, benevolent speech of the righteous is just as necessary for a community, offering everyone abundant life–temporal, intellectual, moral, and spiritual. The right word, spoken at the right time and in the right way, supports or corrects a community in a way that promotes its life. (The Book of Proverbs, p. 460-461)
He continues, “A community gathers around the open speech of the unselfish person in order to live…”
These thoughts are also connected to Proverbs 10:21: “The lips of the righteous feed many.”
What an opportunity is held out to us here. If we will pursue what God calls righteousness, we have the opportunity to have mouths that dispense life–things people can feed on–to the community of believers. Doesn’t our community need more and more of this?
And it reminds me of the counter examples in Proverbs, like 26:18-19 — “Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death is the man who deceives his neighbor and says, ‘I am only joking!'”
Or 10:14–“The mouth of a fool brings ruin near.”
Or 12:18– “There is one who speaks like the piercings of a sword, But the tongue of the wise promotes health.”
Again, it seems like a choice and an opportunity are being held out to us here. What do I want my words to do? Specifically, what do I want them to do in the Christian community? Do I want them, like sword thrusts, to cut people down? Do I want them, when I have cut enough people down, to bring ruin (!) near for the community of Christ I’m a part of? Or, conversely, do I want them to promote healing…and feed many…and be a source of life people can gather around like a fountain?
Important, life-giving, good things to think about here.