Why it is important: When we live the life, God has intended for us, it is like a tree that gives us delicious fruit. There is nothing like fresh fruit. We all love it. I was at the market yesterday and just had to get some figs and apricots.
God’s goal for us is to live a meaningful life. It is meaningless for a fruit tree not to bring forth fruit. A great tree supplies shade to the weary person. The shade attracts others to find comfort. Our sense of purpose will attract others to God. They will want the same meaningful life.
That contrasts with a life of cunning or perhaps even violence. I think this is not just physical. Anything opposite of doing what God wants us to is violence against God and it destroys our very souls.
Thank God for the Holy Spirit of God that gives us the power to live the resurrected life of Jesus. Now that is Good News.
The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and whoever captures souls is wise [or CSB translation “but a cunning person takes lives.]
English Standard Version. (2016). (Proverbs 11:30). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
What appears to be a straightforward comparison is actually an unresolved conundrum in biblical studies. The first line is clear enough in comparing a righteous person to a sturdy well-watered tree with good fruit; the fruit of the righteous is like the tree of life. As is the case in all the “tree of life” sayings in Proverbs, the fruit is not forbidden but offered to sustain and nourish life. Not only do the righteous thrive like green leaves, but they also bear fruit that feeds others.
- Those who avail themselves of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross will be resurrected to see the tree of life again.
- It stands in the middle of the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, where it bears “twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations” (Revelation 22:2).
- In the eternal state, the curse will be no more, access to the tree of life will be reinstated, and darkness will be forever banished. Eden will be restored.
The second line of 11:30 is not so easy to read, for the Hebrew loqeaḥ nepašot (“to take lives”) usually means “to kill.” Yet if the writer meant “kill,” we are surprised to find a “wise” one as the subject of the verb. Instead, we could translate leqaḥ as like the American idiom, “I get what you mean,” and read, “One who comprehends souls is wise.” The saying then corresponds to Proverbs 1:3, which can be translated either “to receive instruction” or to “comprehend instruction.”
The metaphor of tree and its fruit recommends the translation, “and the wise gathers life/lives.” To gather lives like fruit then denotes the wise one who plucks people from the power of death. The closeness of the Hebrew to the phrase “takes life” may be intentionally ironic, for this is action that gives life instead. We have here an encouragement to become wise in order to save not only one’s own life/soul (nepeš) but also the lives of others. In sum, while the Hebrew text is difficult, that does not provide sufficient reason to emend; the wise promote life, they do not take it away.
Source: Koptak, P. E. (2003). Proverbs (pp. 324–325). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.