Proverbs 16:26

26 The appetite of laborers works for them; their hunger drives them on.

Proverbs 16:26 in Other Translations

26 He that laboureth laboureth for himself; for his mouth craveth it of him.
26 A worker's appetite works for him; his mouth urges him on.
26 It is good for workers to have an appetite; an empty stomach drives them on.
26 Appetite is an incentive to work; hunger makes you work all the harder.
26 A worker's appetite works for him because his hunger urges him on.

Proverbs 16:26 Meaning and Commentary

Proverbs 16:26

He that laboureth, laboureth for himself
Man is born for labour; it is a part of the curse inflicted on him for sin; and his condition and circumstances are such as make it necessary, for such who will not work ought not to eat; and it is labouring for food and raiment which is here meant, and that is for a man's self; for if he labours to be rich and lay up money, and purchase estates, these are more for others than himself, and indeed he knows not for whom he labours. It is indeed in the original, "the soul of him that labours {l}, labours for himself"; and it may be understood of the labour of, the soul for spiritual things, for spiritual food, for that meat which endures to everlasting life; and may intend the various exercises of religion in which men employ themselves, that they may have food for their souls, and grow thereby; such as praying, reading the Scriptures, attending on the ministry of the word and ordinances: and this labouring is for themselves; for the good and welfare of their immortal souls, for their spiritual prosperity, for the nourishing of them up unto everlasting life. It may be applied to Gospel ministers, who labour in the Lord's vineyard, in the word and doctrine; and though in the first place they labour to promote the glory of God and the interest of Christ, and the good of souls, yet it also turns to their own account; and indeed they labour to be accepted of the Lord, and at last shall hear, "Well done, good and faithful Servant; enter into the joy of thy Lord", ( Matthew 25:23 ) . Some render the words, "he that is troublesome is troublesome to himself" F13, as such an one is, not only to others, but to himself also; he is the cause of great disquietude to his own mind; for his mouth craveth it of him:
that he should labour, in order to satisfy his appetite; for "all the labour of man is for his mouth", to feed that and fill his belly, ( Ecclesiastes 6:7 ) ; or "his mouth boweth unto him" {n}; it is as it were an humble supplicant to him, entreating: him to labour to get food for it, and satisfy its wants; or as a beast bows down to feed itself; or "boweth upon him" F15; it obliges him, as the Vulgate Latin version; it compels him, whether he will or not, to work, its necessities are so pressing: and this holds good in spiritual things; a man's mouth, or spiritual appetite, puts him upon the use of means of spiritual exercises, without which he must otherwise be in a starving condition; and is true of the ministers of the word, whose mouth obliges them; as it were; they cannot but speak the things they have heard and seen: or "his mouth reflects upon him"; upon the man that has been troublesome to himself and others; the Targum is,

``for from his mouth humiliation shall come to him;''
or his destruction, as the Syriac version.

F12 (lme vpn) "anima laborantis", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus, Piscator, Mercerus, Gejerus, Michaelis; "anima laboriosi", Cocceius.
F13 "Ipse molestus molestiam affert sibi", Junius & Tremellius.
F14 (whyp wyle Pka) "incurvavit se ei os suum", Pagninus; "incurvat se ei os suum"; Mercerus, Gejerus.
F15 "Inflexit se super eum os suum", Montanus; "innititur super cum", Vatablus.

Proverbs 16:26 In-Context

24 Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.
25 There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.
26 The appetite of laborers works for them; their hunger drives them on.
27 A scoundrel plots evil, and on their lips it is like a scorching fire.
28 A perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends.