What does Proverbs 11:26 mean?
ESV: The people curse him who holds back grain, but a blessing is on the head of him who sells it.
NIV: People curse the one who hoards grain, but they pray God’s blessing on the one who is willing to sell.
NASB: One who withholds grain, the people will curse him, But blessing will be on the head of him who sells it.
CSB: People will curse anyone who hoards grain, but a blessing will come to the one who sells it.
NLT: People curse those who hoard their grain, but they bless the one who sells in time of need.
KJV: He that withholdeth corn, the people shall curse him: but blessing shall be upon the head of him that selleth it.
NKJV: The people will curse him who withholds grain, But blessing will be on the head of him who sells it.
Verse Commentary:
This continues to expound the theme of the last few verses. Those who are generous and kind towards others gain a good reputation, which serves them well and results in greater benefits (Proverbs 11:24–25). Those who are greedy can anticipate a cold response from others.

The imagery here is some crisis where food or grain is scarce. This might be a famine or other disaster. In that case, a greedy person might decide to hoard supplies, looking to profit from the desperation of others. That would allow the hoarder to charge a higher price as grain became scarce. The result of this is common sense: the people would curse them for doing so. However, a farmer who sold his grain, even in a crisis, to those who needed it, would be praised. Joseph's extensive preparations put Egypt in a position to feed others during a famine, greatly increasing their reputation (Genesis 41:56–57).

The spiritual counterpart applies to believers and the Bread of Life. We are charged with the privilege and responsibility of sharing the Bread of Life with those who need it. If we withhold it, we deprive people of the opportunity to end their spiritual starvation. If we share it, people will have an opportunity to be fed spiritually. In turn, they will bless us, and not curse us. Like Paul, we are under obligation to all people, and should be eager to proclaim the gospel (Romans 1:14–15).
Verse Context:
Proverbs 11:23–31 is the closing section of this segment. Solomon discusses the benefits of righteousness and generosity as opposed to stinginess and trust in riches. The righteous person will prosper and live, but the wicked person will experience trouble and punishment.
Chapter Summary:
Many of the proverbs in this section deal with contrasts between those who are righteous and those who are wicked. Righteous people follow God's will, bring honor and blessing on themselves, and have hope. Evil people disobey God, bring trouble on others, are hated, and their lives lead to disaster.
Chapter Context:
This continues a long passage filled with Solomon's general, common-sense observations. As in chapter 10, Solomon presents a variety of contrasts. We see distinctions such as those between integrity and dishonesty, trust in wealth and trust in the Lord, wise and foolish talk, true riches and false riches, the blessing of the righteous and the harm caused by the wicked, and the respective rewards of the godly and those who are evil.
Book Summary:
Proverbs is best understood in context with the books of Ecclesiastes and Job. In Proverbs, “wisdom” is given in short, simple, general terms. Ecclesiastes represents wisdom based on observation and experience. This often shows how the general principles of the book of Proverbs don’t apply in absolutely every circumstance. Job represents wisdom based on the experience of suffering and injustice. All three come to the conclusion that God does indeed know best, and the most sensible course of action is to follow His will.
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