my experience the
can often serve as
somewhat of a "mini-commentary" on the Hebrew passage that it
translates. One has to use discretion as the
of some passages are
strikingly different from the corresponding Hebrew. In the case of Pr
4:23, the Greek translation of the Hebrew is illuminating. Below is
Septuagint with brief comments for amplification.
Pase (all without exception)
phulake (noun: as an action = guarding, watch; a person who
stayed on watch at a guard post like our modern sentinel, cp "guard"
in Acts 12.10 - see related verb that is the root of phulake =
(tereo = speaks of guarding something in one’s possession,
watching as one would something precious, continually observing
is a command
calling for us to make this our habitual practice cp "guarding" in Acts 12:6) sen
(possessive adjective = your) kardian (see word study on
kardia = heart, see also discussion
of heart on this page) gar (for) ek
(out of, from) touton (this) exodoi (see word study on
departure, here in plural = outgoings) zoes (see word study on
zoe -- absolute fullness of life,
both essential and ethical).
translation of the
Keep your heart with the utmost
care; for out of these are the issues of life.
My translation of the
With all guarding continually keep watching your heart for out of this
[is the] departure (exodus) of supernatural life.
Comment: The verb Tereo in the
present imperative is a clear call for our necessity to renounce
self-effort and rely on the enabling power of the Holy Spirit to obey
this command continually. It is impossible naturally! But it is
Here are some other paraphrases
of Proverbs 4:23...
Above all else, guard your heart,
for it affects everything you do. (NLT)
Guard your heart above anything
else you have, because it determines the kind of life you will live.
Be careful how you think; your life
is shaped by your thoughts. (TEV)
The Pulpit Commentary
says that one interpretation of this verse is that
things that have to be guarded, keep or guard thy heart.
As Wiersbe wisely
The heart is the “master-control”
of the life; a wrong heart always produces a wrong life.
To allow sin into the heart is to pollute the entire
life...“The unexamined life is not worth living,” said Socrates. The
Lord is pondering (examining) our lives (Pr 5:21, 15:3, Je 17:10, 2Chr
16:9), and we must examine
them too (cp 2Co 13:5). Live in God’s Word and He will protect your path, direct
your path, and perfect your path, for the glory of Jesus Christ.
(Wiersbe's Expository Outlines on the Old Testament. Wheaton, IL:
D Paul Montague has an
interesting paraphrase of Pr 4:23...
Be careful how you think, because
your thinking results in actions that have either a positive or
negative affect upon your territory (sphere of influence).
Pastor Greg Allen has a
pithy introduction to his sermon on Pr 4:23...
Theme: We must be diligent to keep
our hearts; because the condition of our heart will affect everything
else in our life....I was sitting in my car in a parking lot in
Seaside some time ago, sipping coffee and reading a book. And I heard
a noise that caused me to look up and see one of those funny sights
that could only be seen in high-tech, sophisticated America. There was
an SUV next to me with a seagull perched on the hood. He was cocking
his head back and forth in absolute bewilderment at the car beneath
him; while from under the hood came a loud, authoritative, mechanical
voice repeating the command, "PLEASE BACK AWAY FROM THE VEHICLE".
"Car alarms" and other such security devises are a part of the modern
world; but human diligence is still very much needed. I read once
about a Portland man who had a security device in his car that
prevented someone from driving away with it. But he kept noticing that
though his car was safely parked on his driveway, parts from his car
were slowly disappearing. He kept vigil until he heard the sound of
tinkering beneath his car. Then, he ran out just in time to catch a
thief by surprise as he paid his regular night-time visit to steal
It seems that life all around us is filled with reasons to be on our
guard, and to protect ourselves from loss or damage or theft with
respect to our material goods. And of course, in a post-9/11 world, we
have an even greater sense of the need to be on the alert. But what
about spiritual matters? The things that concern our inner man are far
more important and eternally consequential than the material goods we
might be able to protect. Out of all the areas in life that force us
to take "security measures", the Bible presents our effort to protect
our heart as the most important of all. If you effectively protect
your car from theft, your home from burglary, your property from
damage, your financial interests from failure, and your body from
personal illness and injury, and even our borders from terrorist
attacks - and yet fail in protecting this one, all-important thing as
the Bible warns us - that singular failure will effect all other areas
of life. The plain fact is that more personal ruin and eternal loss
has been caused by a failure to protect this one thing than all
failures to protect material matters combined. And yet, hardly anyone
gives a single thought to "keeping the heart". (Keep
Your Heart, Proverbs 4:23 Sermon Greg Allen - Bethany Bible Church)
(Mt 26:41 1Pe 1:13, 5:8, 9, 10, Pr 22:5; 23:19; 28:26; Dt 4:9; Ps
139:23,24; Jer 17:9; Mt 15:18,19 Mk 14:38; He 12:15)
Take a Moment to meditate
on Proverbs 4:23
as you ponder the inestimable importance of guarding your heart
Play Red Mountain Music's beautiful rendition of
Lord, Dissolve My Frozen Heart
Red Mt Music (their
works are superbly God Glorifying)
Here are a few suggested observations you will want
to make on this text -
It would make a great sermon
text (perhaps even a sermon series!). When does a person die? In medical terms, it's
when the heart ceases to beat. If that's true in physical life, how
important is the "heart" in our spiritual life? Pr 4:23 is the answer
to that vitally important question! Solomon begins with a command to
Remember that if God gives us a command, He will enable us to carry
out the command, so don't make excuses that this is too difficult a
thing for you to accomplish! (E.g., don't start blaming your parents,
your horrible social background, even your depraved past [assuming you
are a new creature - 2Co 5:17-note,
cp Php 3:13-note
remembering that Paul was at one time in agreement with Stephen's murder! Acts 7:58, 59).
The point is that God says “Watch
over” then we can watch
over it. It is not optional. You are responsible. You need to
determine what specific vulnerabilities you need to "watch over"
because we each have different besetting sins (cp Heb 12:1-note).
So like the Nike commercial says
"Just Do It"!
Why is it so vital? As someone has said our heart is like the “kernel of
a nut” or like the internal
citadel of our soul. Our heart controls all of our life, serving as
the well spring of all our actions, and the center and seat of all the principles
that undergird how we behave. In short, the heart controls our actions,
our actions determine our habits and our habits are
"warp and woof" (the foundation) of our character not our reputation
(reputation being what others think about us, character being what God
knows to be true about us).
Why do we need to be constantly on
guard? Clearly the
implication is that the citadel of is one which can be easily taken by
crafty adversaries like Satan (Recall Ge 3:1!) who prowls around (1Pe
continually looking for a "chink" in our armor with his goal being to
take back lost ground (cp Ep 4:26, 27-note
where "opportunity" is topos = territory, land, a defined
place, an area = a foothold from which to launch further attacks as is
true in real warfare!). We must not forget that our heart is easily deceived (cp
Jer 17:9, cp Jesus' warning = Mt 26:41, cp deception of Ananias and Sapphira
5:3) and when the citadel of the heart is "overrun" or taken by the
our whole man suffers defeat! So we need to be diligent with all keeping
and before all else we must give priority to the protecting our heart.
Most of us who are over 50 are careful to watch our cholesterol intake
so that we might decrease our chances of heart attack. We need the
same sober, serious approach to guarding our spiritual heart, even as
one would protect a precious source of drinking water in the arid
middle east so that it does not become polluted or poisoned by
enemies! In short, we need to guard our heart, because our spiritual
heart is the starting point for
every spiritual aspect of our life. Don't be deceived by sin (See
The Deceitfulness of Sin),
for all of us, even the most godly among us, has some residual, innate
propensity toward moral failure,
some weak point, some potential opening for sin to pierce our moral armor.
The solution? Continually
In the Pentateuch we see a
(Niphal [passive] imperative - a
command) to yourself and
keep your soul
diligently (exceedingly, very greatly), lest you forget the things
which your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all
the days of your life; but make them known to your sons and your
grandsons. (Dt 4:9)
Solomon is giving us one of the
most important practical duties of the Christian life. All other
duties pale in comparison to guarding our hearts, for our heart
affects everything we are, everything we say and everything we do.
The Dictionary of Biblical
Imagery writes that...
In essence a guard symbolizes
protection and watchfulness. His entire occupation requires him to
encompass and shield his charge from harm or to restrain prisoners
In Proverbs we read variously about
how understanding will guard the wise person (Pr 2:11) and about the
need to guard understanding ( Pr 4:13; cf. 7:2), one’s heart (Pr
4:23), lips (Pr 13:3), mouth (Pr 21:23) and soul (Pr 22:5). Equally
metaphoric is the picture of how “righteousness guards the man of
integrity” (Pr 13:6 NIV).
John Angell James has a
nice devotional summary of Proverbs 4:23...
Guard your heart!"
Above all else, guard your heart;
for out of it are the issues of life." Proverbs 4:23
The heart is...
the great vital spring of the soul,
the fountain of actions,
the center of principle,
the seat of motives
The heart is the center of the
thoughts and feelings—out of which conduct comes.
The heart must be the first, chief,
constant object of solicitude to the Christian. It is this which God
sees, and because God principally looks at it, the heart must be ever
uppermost in our concern.
To keep the heart must mean
exerting ourselves with great earnestness, in dependence upon Divine
grace, to preserve it in a good state; laboring to preserve its
vitality, vigor, and purity.
The heart is the citadel of the
soul. If this is neglected, the enemy at the gates will soon be in and
take possession. Set a watch, therefore, upon the heart. Let the
sentinel be never off duty, nor sleeping at his post.
Keep out evil thoughts, and unholy
affections, and vile imaginations. Without great vigilance they will
elude observation. As soon as an enemy of this kind is detected, he
must be seized and made captive, until every thought is brought into
subjection to Christ.
As the state of the heart is, so is
the man in reality—and before God. Guard your heart! (From
Jewels from James)
Can I ask you a candid
question? Is the seductive, deceptive lure of some sin such as anger,
bitterness, unforgiveness, sexual immorality, etc,
knocking at the door of your heart, dear saint? Are you getting ready
to be captured by your own iniquities, bound by the cords of your own
sin (Pr 5:22)? If so, than prayerfully, meditatively, take just a few
moments (3' 43") and...
"GUARD YOUR HEART"
to listen to Steve
Green's soul piercing rendition of Guard Your Heart. Dear
brother (or sister), if you are "toying" (an oxymoron for this is not
"child's play"!) with and making provision for an "affair" (A
euphemism which is far too kind! Cp Ro 13:14-note,
then take just a few moments and please listen carefully to the words
of Steve's song and as you listen ponder the consequences in David's
life - notice especially the last 2 verses in the following passages!
(David's sin with Bathsheba and some of the consequences = 2Sa 11:1,2,
3, 4, 5, 12:7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 13:1, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14,
15, 16, 20, 22, 28, 29, 30, 31). As Steve Green rightly and
a payment for pleasure it is a high price to pay"!
Remember that when sin comes in at
the door of a person’s life, it eventually moves to the inner chambers
and takes over.
If King David could speak to us
today (and of course he is in one sense for the word is living and
active, Heb 4:12-note,
I have no doubt he would say that he would gladly forgo that 15-30
pleasure he had with Bathsheba on that fateful night, if the terrible
consequences of his sin could be erased. O, dear beloved brother (or
Christ, if you are being tempted in this area, as you read this note,
know that I have prayed for you that the Spirit would quicken your
heart, renew your mind and empower your will to turn
around and away from the potential devastation you are about to enter
into to because of the deceitfulness (Heb 3:13-note)
of this pleasurable (Heb 11:25-note)
but tragic sin of porneia. Guard your heart --- for
your God, for your wife and children, for your reputation, for the
Lord's reputation, and remember that one day we will all stand before
the Lord of Glory and give account for the deeds in the body (for
believers at 2Cor 5:10 or unbelievers at Rev 20:11, 12, 13, 14, 15-see
See a related topic -
Covenant: As It Relates to Marriage
(command, not a suggestion) (05341)
(natsar) means to guard, keep, observe, hide,
preserve, hide. Many of the uses of natsar are nuanced by the object
that is being watched or guarded. The first use in Ex 34:7 speaks of
God keeping His faithfulness! Natsar is used with a similar sense of
keeping faithfulness in “keeping” the covenant (Dt. 33:9); “keeping”
the law (Ps. 105:45); “keeping” the rules of parents (Pr. 6:20).
natsar to describe men guarding truths about God. For example...
Psalm 25:10 All the paths of the
LORD are lovingkindness and truth To those who keep (Lxx
= exert effort to find out, to
covenant and His testimonies.
Psalm 119:2 How blessed are those
who observe (Lxx
= exert effort to find out, to
seek) His testimonies, Who seek Him with all their heart.
Psalm 119:22 Take away reproach and
contempt from me, For I observe (Lxx
= exert effort to find out, to
seek) Thy testimonies.
Psalm 119:33 Teach me, O LORD, the
way of Thy statutes, And I shall observe (Lxx
= exert effort to find out, to
seek) it to the end.
Psalm 119:34 Give me understanding,
that I may observe Thy law, And keep (Lxx
= exert effort to find out, to
seek) it with all my heart.
Psalm 119:100 I understand more
than the aged, Because I have observed (Lxx
= exert effort to find out, to
seek) Thy precepts.
Psalm 119:129 Thy testimonies are
wonderful; Therefore my soul observes (Lxx
= search out, examine, investigate) them.
Proverbs 3:1 My son, do not forget
my teaching, But let your heart
= keep in view, keep inviolate,
guard) my commandments;
Baker - The word (natsar)
refers to people’s maintaining things entrusted to them, especially to
keeping the truths of God in both actions and mind (Ps. 119:100, 115).
God’s Word is to be kept with our whole hearts (Ps. 119:69); our
hearts, in turn, ought to be maintained in a right state (Pr. 4:23).
The word also refers to keeping speech under control (Ps. 34:13 ;
141:3); the maintenance of a tree (Pr. 27:18); the work of God’s
character (Ps. 40:11); its reflection in humans as preserving them
(Ps. 25:21; Pr. 2:11). Sometimes the word refers directly to God’s
preservation and maintenance of His people (Pr. 24:12; Isa. 49:8). The
passive participle form of the verb describes an adulteress’ heart as
guarded or kept secret (Pr. 7:10). It also describes a city as guarded
or besieged (Isa. 1:8). The active participle is used to signify a
watchman (2Kgs. 17:9; Jer. 31:6). (Complete
Word Study Dictionary- Old Testament -
Vine - Natsar is
frequently used to express the idea of “guarding” something, such as a
vineyard (Isa. 27:3) or a fortification (Nah. 2:1). “To watch” one’s
speech is a frequent concern, so advice is given “to watch” one’s
mouth (Pr. 13:3), the tongue (Ps. 34:13), and the lips (Ps. 141:3).
Many references are made to God as the one who “preserves” His people
from dangers of all kinds (Deut. 32:10; Ps. 31:23). Generally, natsar
is a close synonym to the much more common verb, shamar, “to keep,
TWOT - Examination of the
objects protected assists in assigning to it a proper semantical
range. First material things such as agricultural or military
installations (e.g. a vineyard, Job 27:18; a fig tree, Pr 27:18;
fortifications, Nah 2:2) are guarded. Those who are employed in these
functions are called watchmen (Qal active plural participle nōsĕrîm,
Jer 31:6; 2Kgs 17:9; 18:8). The Lord himself is regarded as a keeper
or watchman over his vineyard Israel and over all men in general (Isa
27:3; Job 7:20). Secondly in an ethical sense, the mouth (Pr
13:3; Ps 141:3), one’s path in life (Pr 16:17), the heart (Pr 4:23),
and the tongue (Ps 34:14) are guarded. Thirdly, there is the
concept of “guarding with fidelity.” It usually centers around
observing the covenant or the law of the Lord. The Lord himself is the
one keeping loyal love (hesed) to thousands of generations (Ex 34:7).
But mortal men are also responsible for observing the covenant (Deut
33:9; Ps 25:10) and the precepts or law of God (Ps 78:7; 105:45;
119:2, 22, 33, 34, 56, 69, 100, 115, 129, 145). Even the commands of
parents (Pr 6:20; 28:7) and the discipline of wisdom (Pr 3:1, 21;
4:13; 5:2) require the same kind of faithful observance. God is
spoken of as guarding from danger or preserving a man’s life (Ps
25:20; 40:12; Pr 24:12), the king (Ps 61:8), peace (Isa 26:3), Israel
(Deut 32:10; Isa 42:6; 49:8), the faithful and their lives (Ps 31:24;
Pr 2:8), and knowledge (Pr 22:12). The Lord also protects the
righteous from this generation (Ps 12:8), trouble (Ps 32:7), the
secret plots of the wicked (Ps 64:2), and violent men (Ps 140:2, 5).
Wisdom keeps those who do not forsake her (Pr 4:6). So
discretion watches over her children (Pr 2:11) and righteousness
watches over her (Pr 13:6). In three instances, nātsar is used
of guarding in the sense of “keeping secret.” In Isa 48:6 it refers to
hidden things previously not revealed by God. In two other passages
the meaning is negative. The “secret places” of sin where rebellious
Israel spends her nights incubating (i.e. sleeping with the idols in
order to receive dreams about the future, Isa 65:4) and the secret or
crafty mindedness of a seductress (Pr 7:10). Another meaning is of
keeping closed or blockaded cities under attack. In Jer 4:16, the Qal
plural active participle seems to refer to the blockaders themselves,
while in Ezek 6:12(?) and Isa 1:8 it points to the besieged or
blockaded city. Taken altogether, it is no wonder that Isaiah calls
the revived tribes of Israel in that eschatological era the preserved
of Israel (49:6), for they surely have experienced the constant
protection and preservation of the Lord. (Theological
Wordbook of the Old Testament- R Laird Harris, Gleason L Archer Jr.,
Bruce K Waltke- Recommended)
Natsar - 57x in the OT- Ex 34:7; Deut 33:9; Job 7:20; 27:18; Ps
12:7; 25:10, 21; 31:23; 32:7; 34:13; 40:11; 61:7; 64:1; 78:7; 105:45;
119:2, 22, 33-34, 56, 69, 100, 115, 129, 145; 140:1, 4; 141:3; Pr 2:8,
11; 3:1, 21; 4:6, 13, 23; 5:2; 6:20; 7:10; 13:3, 6; 16:17; 20:28;
22:12; 24:12; 27:18; 28:7; Isa 1:8; 26:3; 27:3; 42:6; 48:6; 49:8;
65:4; Jer 4:16; 31:6; Ezek 6:12; Nah 2:1. NAS Usage:
besieged(2), Besiegers(1), cunning(1), guard(2), guarding(1),
guards(2), hidden things(1), keep(7), keep watch(1), keeper(1),
keeps(3), kept(1), man(1), observe(10), observed(1), observes(1),
preserve(10), preserves(1), reserve(1), secret places(1), tends(1),
watch(4), watcher(1), watches(1), watchman(1), watchmen(1). For
Isaiah 26:3 “The steadfast of mind
You will keep (Heb = natsar; Lxx =
= guard) in perfect peace, because he trusts in You.
Men will only guard what is
valuable. There are not many guards posted at the local city dump, but
there are armed guards and security measures at the bank or the
expensive jewelry store, because of the great value in these places.
This basic human principle says something about God’s view of the
heart. He knows that the heart is of great value to Him and to the one
who possesses it. And thus the command to
our heart as one would the wealthiest bank in the world. The integrity
and vitality of our spiritual lives depend on it!
guarding your heart 24/7?
Or do you just guard your heart on Sunday mornings?
In short, the Hebrew word
natsar is a command calling for continual watching and can even
refer to a watchman on security duty. Note also that watching
includes two things, one, that you keep noxious pollutants from coming
in, and secondly, that you keep anything good from being stolen. Both
are relevant when it comes to guarding one's heart.
William Cowper gives us
an example of how something good is stolen from our heart...
We may mark it by experience, that
the Word is first stolen either out of the mind (heart) of man,
and the remembrance of it is away; or at least out of the affection of
man; so that the reverence of it is gone, before a man can be drawn to
the committing of a sin. So long as Eve kept by faith the Word of the
Lord, she resisted Satan; but from the time she doubted of that, which
God made most certain by His Word, at once she was snared.
UBS Handbook on Proverbs
says that "In some languages this is expressed
as “Watch your mind,” “Keep a hand on your head,” or “Take care of
your thoughts.” NJB translates “More than all else,
keep watch over your heart,” and NJPSV (New Jewish Publication Society
Version) has “More than all that you guard, guard your mind.” We may
also say, for example, “The most important thing you can do is be
careful what you think” or “The most important … is to think good
W. D., & Fry, E. M. A handbook on Proverbs. The United Bible
Societies' New Testament Handbook Series)
Toy writes that "The Hebrew in first line reads:
more than all guarding ( = “with more vigilant guarding than in
any other case”) watch thou over thy heart, = “watch thy heart (or,
thyself) more than anything else”; the same general sense is given by
the rendering: above all that thou guardest, etc. (De., RV. marg.),
but this signification (“the thing guarded”) the word has not
elsewhere in OT. A better sense is given by the
Greek reading: with all watching guard etc., that is, in every way,
with all possible vigilance and diligence (so AV., RV.).(Toy, C. H. A
Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the book of Proverbs. 1899)
(Qal Imperative = Command) means to watch, preserve,
guard from dangers; guard with fidelity; keep secret and close,
blockade. This verb is related to a word which describes a prison
guard keeping watch over a prisoner in a cell (posting a guard, a
guard-house, a guard post). As noted, in Hebrew (and in Greek) this injunction is in the
form of a command. If God commands it, then we can carry it out (in
His power, Zech 4:6, Gal 5:16-note,
and therefore we have no excuse to not comply!
What is your excuse?
failed to carry out the very command the Spirit of God inspired him to
pen! (see the following section). Watching over our heart is not an
addendum or elective for those who are called to be holy as He is holy (1Pe
It speaks of the exercise of serious, vigilant, careful diligence in
"keeping an eye on" and protecting the heart.
is in the center of our
inner man (phrase found
in NASB in Ro 7:22, 2Co 4:16, Eph 3:16), so how can we possibly watch over something we cannot
What comes into the inner man?
Input especially from the eyes but also from the ears. It follows that
we watch over our heart by watching over these strategic entry points,
in the following practical ways...
PURPOSE IN YOUR HEART TO LOVE GOD AS A CHILD DOES
AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR
GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART,
AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR
STRENGTH.' (Mark 12:30)
Comment: We’re to love
God with all our heart (Dt 6:5) and receive His Word into our hearts
(Pr 7:1, 2, 3). God wants us to do His will from our hearts (Ep 6:6).
If our heart is wrong toward God, our entire life will be wrong, no
matter how successful we may appear to others. (Wiersbe, W. W. Be
Hate evil, you who love the LORD
(cp Mk 12:30, 31, 1Jn 4:19, Jn 14:15), Who preserves the souls of His godly ones; He delivers
them from the hand of the wicked. (Ps 97:10 -
FILL YOU HEART WITH THE WORD OF
Let the word of Christ richly dwell
within you (in your heart, Ps 119:9, 11), with all wisdom teaching and
admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,
singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (see note
Comment: As we fill our
hearts with God’s Holy Word, and yield to His Holy Spirit, our lives
will be like a refreshing fountain to ourselves and those we
MEDITATE IN YOUR HEART ON
THE WORD OF GOD:
From Thy precepts I get
understanding. Therefore (Why?
because we've immersed ourselves in the Word of Truth and Life) I hate
every false way. (Ps 119:104-Spurgeon's
note, cp Ps 1:1, 2, 3 -notes)
Therefore I esteem right all Thy
precepts concerning everything (Question:
Do you really hold God's precepts in high esteem? How much time have
you spent in His highly esteemed words this morning before you went to
work? this past week?), I hate every false way. (Ps 119:128-Spurgeon's
GUARD YOUR HEART IN AN ATTITUDE
literally keep staying awake, alert, on the lookout for potential
danger or hazards in the highway of holiness) and
-command to do this continually), that you
may not enter into temptation (eg, the temptation to allow moral
pollutants into your heart, that would pollute the "head waters" of
our heart); the spirit is willing, but the flesh is
weak. (Mt 26:41)
John Piper writes...
I have often said that one of the
reasons we feel so weak in our prayer lives is that we have tried to
make a domestic intercom out of a wartime walkie talkie. Prayer is not
designed as an intercom between us and God to serve the domestic
comforts of the saints. It's designed as a walkie talkie for spiritual
battlefields. It's the link between active soldiers and their command
headquarters, with its unlimited fire-power and air cover and
strategic wisdom. (From his sermon on
Col 4:2-6 Walk in Wisdom Toward
What should we pray?
Mt 6:13 And do not lead
us into temptation (into a test that which would become a
temptation to sin or into a situation in which we would be tempted to
commit sin, realizing that God Himself never tempts us to sin, Jas
1:13), but deliver
us from evil (or "the Evil One", implying the snares of Satan).
Ps 141:4 Do not incline my
to any evil thing, to practice deeds of wickedness with men who do
iniquity; and do not let me eat of their delicacies. (See
2Th 3:5 And may the Lord
direct your hearts
into the love of God and into the steadfastness of Christ.
the Greek verb apostrepho means to cause to change from incorrect to
correct behavior) my eyes from looking at vanity (Hebrew = shav
= futility, worthlessness = that which has no result or use and thus
is worthless. Sometimes shav describes an idol, with emphasis on that
which is worthless. Shav is translated in Greek [Septuagint]
by the word mataiotes = state of being without use or value and thus
that which manifests emptiness, futility, purposelessness,
transitoriness), and revive me in Thy ways.
Turn away mine eyes from beholding
vanity. He had prayed about his heart, and one would have thought that
the eyes would so surely have been influenced by the heart that there
was no need to make them the objects of a special petition; but our
author is resolved to make assurance doubly sure. If the eyes do not
see, perhaps the heart may not desire: at any rate, one door of
temptation is closed when we do not even look at the painted bauble.
Sin first entered man's mind by the eye, and it is still a favourite
gate for the incoming of Satan's allurements: hence the need of a
double watch upon that portal. The prayer is not so much that the eyes
may be shut as "turned away"; for we need to have them open, but
directed to right objects. Perhaps we are now gazing upon folly, we
need to have our eyes turned away; and if we are beholding heavenly
things we shall be wise to beg that our eyes may be kept away from
vanity. Why should we look on vanity? -- it melts away as a vapour.
Why not look upon things eternal? Sin is vanity, unjust gain is
vanity, self conceit is vanity, and, indeed, all that is not of God
comes under the same head. From all this we must turn away. It is a
proof of the sense of weakness felt by the Psalmist and of his entire
dependence upon God that he even asks to have his eyes turned for him;
he meant not to make himself passive, but he intended to set forth his
own utter helplessness apart from the grace of God. For fear he should
forget himself and gaze with a lingering longing upon forbidden
objects, he entreats the Lord speedily to make him turn away his eyes,
hurrying him off from so dangerous a parley with iniquity. If we are
kept from looking on vanity we shall be preserved from loving
Whatever is of vanity, make me to
pass without seeing it. The sentiment is strikingly like that in our
Lord's prayer: "Lead us not into temptation." Having prayed for what
he wanted to see, the Psalmist here prays for the hiding of what he
would not see.
And quicken thou me in thy way. Give me so much life that dead vanity
may have no power over me. Enable me to travel so swiftly in the road
to heaven that I may not stop long enough within sight of vanity to be
fascinated thereby. The prayer indicates our greatest need, -- more
life in our obedience. It shows the preserving power of increased life
to keep us from the evils which are around us, and it, also, tells us
where that increased life must come from, namely, from the Lord alone.
Vitality is the cure of vanity. When the heart is full of grace the
eyes will be cleansed from impurity. On the other hand, if we would be
full of life as to the things of God we must keep ourselves apart from
sin and folly, or the eyes will soon captivate the mind, and, like
Samson, who could slay his thousands, we may ourselves be overcome
through the lusts which enter by the eye.
William Cowper on Psalm
By the eyes oftentimes, as by
windows, death enters into the heart; therefore to keep the heart in a
good estate three things are requisite, First, careful study of the
senses, specially of the eyes; for it is a righteous working of the
Lord...that he who negligently uses the external eye of his body,
should punished with blindness in the internal eye of his mind. And
for this cause Nazianzen, deploring the calamities of his soul, wished
that a door might set before his eyes and ears, to close them when
they opened to anything that is not good...The second thing is, a
subduing of the body by discipline (cp Titus 2:11, 12, 13-note).
And the third is, continuance in prayer (Col 4:2-note,
Wolfgang Musculus (1563)
Notice that he does not say, I will
turn away mine eyes; but, "Turn away mine eyes." This shows that it is
not possible for us sufficiently to keep our by our own caution and
diligence; but there must be divine keeping. For, first, where soever
in this world you turn yourself, provocations to [commit sin] are met
with. Secondly, with the unwary, and with far different persons, the
eyes, the servants of a corrupt heart, wander after the things which
are the vanities. Thirdly, before you are aware, the evil contracted
through eyes creeps in to the inmost recesses of the heart, and [sows]
the seeds or perdition (cp Mt 5:29, 30-note).
This the Psalmist himself had experienced, not without greatest
trouble both of heart and condition.
Albert Barnes makes a great
(and pragmatic) point that...
An ugly object loses much of its
deformity when we look often upon it. Sin follows this general law,
and is to be avoided altogether, even in its contemplation, if we
would be safe. A man should be thankful in this world that he has
eyelids; and as he can close his eyes, so he should often do it.
Turn away, then quicken (revive).
The first request is for the removing the impediments of obedience,
the other for the addition of new degrees of grace. These two are
fitly joined, for they have a natural influence upon one another.
Unless we turn away our eyes from vanity, we shall soon contract
deadness of heart. Nothing causes it so much as an inordinate liberty
in carnal vanities. When our affections are alive to other things,
they are dead to God. Therefore the less we let loose our heart to
[focus on] these things, the more lively [revived] and cheerful are we
in the work of obedience. On the other side, the more the rigour of
grace is renewed, and the habits of it quickened into actual exercise,
the more is sin mortified and subdued. Sin dieth, and our senses are
restored to their proper use.
Turn away mine eyes from beholding
vanity. That sin may be avoided we must avoid whatsoever leads to or
occasions it. As this caused Job (Job 31:1) to covenant strongly with
his eyes, so it caused David (Ed: The author of Ps 119 may be
David but we cannot be dogmatic) to pray earnestly about his eyes.
"Turn away mine eyes (or as the Hebrew may be rendered, make them to
pass), from beholding vanity."
The eye is apt to make a stand, or
fix itself, when we come in view of an ensnaring object; therefore it
is our duty to hasten it away, or to pray that God would make it pass
off from it... He that fears burning must take heed of playing with
fire: he that fears drowning must keep out of deep waters. He that
fears the plague must not go into an infected house. Would they avoid
sin who present themselves to the opportunities of it? (Of course
Turn away mine eyes from beholding
vanity. It is a most dangerous experiment for a child of God to place
himself (or herself) within the sphere of seductive temptations. Every
feeling of duty, every recollection of his own weakness, every
remembrance of the failure of others, should induce him to hasten to
the greatest possible distance from the scene of unnecessary conflict
Turn away mine eyes from beholding
vanity. From gazing at the delusive mirages which tempt the pilgrim to
leave the safe highway.
Is it asked -- "What will most
effectually turn my eyes from vanity?" Not the seclusion of
contemplative retirement -- not the relinquishment of our lawful
connection with the world ["in the world, but no of the world"!] --
but the transcendent beauty of Jesus unveiled to our eyes, and fixing
our hearts (cp Heb 12:2, Ro 13:14 - put on Jesus).
William Seeker (1660)
Turn away mine eyes, etc. The fort
royal of your souls is in danger of a surprise while the outworks of
your senses are unguarded. Your eyes, which may be floodgates to pour
out tears, should not be casements to let in lusts. A careless eye is
an index to a graceless heart. Remember, the whole world died by a
wound in the eye. The eyes of a Christian should be like sunflowers,
which are opened to no blaze but that of the sun (Son).
For restraining grace that he might
be prevented and kept back from that which would hinder him in the way
of his duty: "Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity." For
constraining grace, that he might not only be kept from everything
that would obstruct his progress heavenward, but that he might have
that grace which was necessary to forward him in that progress:
"Quicken (revive) thou me in thy way."
FEAR OF THE LORD:
The fear of the LORD is to
hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way, and the perverted
mouth, I hate. (Pr 8:13, contrast Pr 1:29, 30, 31, 32, 33)
DECISION OF YOUR WILL ABOUT WHAT
You need to make a conscious
decision of what you are going to allow into your life. David
gave us a practical example when he declared:
I will set
no worthless (belial 
= good for nothing, also used as another name for Satan! cp use of the
Hebrew transliteration by Paul in 2Co 6:15) thing before (Hebrew means
directly in front of) my eyes. I hate the work of those who fall away.
It shall not fasten (dabaq 
= stick like glue, used in Ge 2:24 for man cleaving to his wife) its
grip on me. (Ps 101:3)
Comment: What are those
worthless things? Some are obvious such as R-rated movies,
pornography, sensual novels, etc. But what about PG-13 rated movies?
You be the judge but are the images and thoughts that are allowed
entry into your heart edifying to you as a believer and God
glorifying? What about most sitcoms on television today? It's almost
impossible to find one that is not filled with sexual innuendo, curse
words, off color jokes, etc. What do these things do to the heart?
Will the "springs" be clean and unpolluted after exposure to such
George Hakewill comments in
regard to the phrase it shall not fasten its grip on me...
A bird may light upon a man's
house; but he may choose whether she shall nestle or breed there, or
not: and the devil or his instruments (the fallen world system) may
represent a wicked object to a man's sight; but he may choose
whether he will entertain or embrace it or not. For a man to set
wicked things before his eyes is nothing else but to sin of set
purpose, to set himself to sin, or to sell himself to sin, as Ahab
did, 1 Kings 21:1-29.
Albert Barnes warns us...
A wicked plan or purpose is thus
represented as having a tendency to fasten itself on a man, or to
"stick to him" -- as pitch, or wax, or a burr does.
Here are C H Spurgeon's comments
on Ps 101:3:
I will set no wicked thing
before mine eyes. I will neither delight in it, aim at it or
endure it. If I have wickedness brought before me by others I will
turn away from it (Pr 8:13, Ro 12:9), I will not gaze upon it with
pleasure. The psalmist is very sweeping in his resolve, he declines
the least, the most reputable, the most customary form of evil -- no
wicked thing; not only shall it not dwell in his heart, but not even
before his eyes, for what fascinates the eye is very apt to gain
admission into the heart, even as Eve's apple first pleased her sight
and then prevailed over her mind and hand.
I hate the work of them that turn aside. He was warmly against
it; he did not view it with indifference, but with utter scorn and
abhorrence. Hatred of sin is a good sentinel for the door of virtue.
There are persons in courts who walk in a very crooked way, leaving
the high road of integrity; and these, by short cuts, and twists, and
turns, are often supposed to accomplish work for their masters which
simple honest hearts are not competent to undertake; but David would
not employ such, he would pay no secret service money, he loathed the
practices of men who deviate from righteousness. He was of the same
mind as the dying statesman who said, "Corruption wins not more than
honesty." It is greatly to be deplored that in after years he did not
keep himself clear in this matter in every case, though, in the main
he did; but what would he have been if he had not commenced with this
resolve, but had followed the usual crooked Policy of Oriental
princes? How much do we all need divine keeping! We are no more
perfect than David, nay, we fall far short of him in many things; and,
like him, we shall find need to write a psalm of penitence very soon
after our psalm of good resolution.
It shall not cleave to me. I will disown their ways, I will not
imitate their policy: like dirt it may fall upon me, but I will wash
it off, and never rest till I am rid of it. Sin, like pitch, is
very apt to stick. In the course of our family history crooked things
will turn up, for we are all imperfect, and some of those around us
are far from being what they should be; it must, therefore, be one
great object of our care to disentangle ourselves, to keep clear of
transgression, and of all that comes of it: this cannot be done unless
the Lord both comes to us, and abides with us evermore.
MAKE NO PROVISION TO COMMIT SIN
But (for contrast see Ro 13:13-note)
= command to do this now!) the Lord Jesus Christ and
= a command which is coupled with a negative particle giving the sense
of "stop making provision" implying they were already doing so) for
(the fallen flesh) in regard to its
lusts (strong desires in this
case for evil ends). (see note
Comment: The order is
critical. Jesus first. Say "Yes" to Jesus (and the Spirit of Christ)
before you say "No" to the flesh! Then you will be motivated and empowered to
carry out the command to make no provision (see same order and
principle in Gal 5:16-note). Don't turn it around and
say "I'll make no provision and that way I will clothe myself with
Christ and be like Christ." You have just fallen into the trap of the
flesh (fallen, sinful, evil flesh, not flesh and blood), which rises
up when placed under "laws" or "restraints". Spend time at the foot of
the Master, listening to His voice (Lk 10:39, 40, 41), speaking with
Him, asking the Father to strengthen you with His Spirit in your inner
man (Eph 3:16-note),
etc - Then you will be forearmed and ready to carry out the task of
not making provision for the strong desires to gratify self that
emanate from your fallen flesh. Remember - Jesus first! Then you are
clothed and armed for the battle that each new day brings! How is your
quiet time lately beloved? I'm not trying to motivate you from a sense
of legalism but from an heart attitude of love for your best Friend
and Counselor. Spend a few moments with Him each day before you head
off to the office, to the school, to the taking the kids to school,
etc. Then you are much more likely to go through the day as more
than a conqueror in Christ Jesus our Lord.
TAKE "ANTI-GOD" THOUGHTS CAPTIVE
USING DIVINELY POWERFUL WEAPONS
For though we walk in the flesh, we
do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare
are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the
destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every
lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking
continually, making this one's practice) every (Gk word means all
without exception) thought to the obedience of Christ (See notes
Comment: We live in a fallen
world and face 3 mortal enemies, the world, the devil and the flesh,
and all three are sources of anti-God thoughts. Applying the truth of
this passage, Paul is saying it is possible for believers to take
captive these anti-God thoughts that come to corrupt and defile our
heart. The better we know God's Word of Truth, the easier it is for us
to recognize the lies, deception and "half-truths" with which we are
assaulted on a daily basis. For example the writer of Hebrews says
food (cp 1Ti 4:6, Titus 1:9-note,
Je 15:16, Mt 4:4) is for the
who because of
(speaks of that which is a habit) have their
(Heb 5:14 -
Oswald Chambers writes that
taking thoughts captive ...
means the harnessing of impulse. We
have the power in our hearts to fix the form of our choice either for
good or for bad. (Chambers, O. Biblical Psychology. London: Simpkin
A W Tozer wrote that...
What we think about when we are
free to think about what we will—that is what we are or will soon
Anyone who wishes to check on his true spiritual condition may do so
by noting what his voluntary thoughts have been over the last hours or
days. What has he thought about when free to think of what he pleased?
Toward what has his inner heart turned when it was free to turn where
it would? When the bird of thought was let go did it fly out like the
raven to settle upon floating carcasses or did it like the dove circle
and return again to the ark of God? Such a test is easy to run, and if
we are honest with ourselves we can discover not only what we are but
what we are going to become. We'll soon be the sum of our voluntary
The best way to control our thoughts is to offer the mind to God in
complete surrender. The Holy Spirit will accept it and take control of
it immediately. Then it will be relatively easy to think on spiritual
things, especially if we train our thought by long periods of daily
prayer. Long practice in the art of mental prayer (that is, talking to
God inwardly as we work or travel) will help to form the habit of holy
thought. (Born After Midnight)
As the needle of the compass has an
affinity for the north magnetic pole, so the heart can keep true to
its secret love though separated from it by miles and years. What that
loved object is may be discovered by observing which direction our
thoughts turn when they are released from the hard restraints of work
or study. Of what do we think when we are free to think of what we
will? What object gives us inward pleasure as we brood over it? Over
what do we muse in our free moments? To what does our imagination
return again and again?
When we have answered these questions honestly we will know what kind
of persons we are; and when we have discovered what kind of persons we
are we may deduce the kind of fruit we will bear. (The Root of the
C H SPURGEON ADDS "THE PEACE OF
GOD...SHALL GUARD YOUR HEART"
Spurgeon used this
text in Philippians 4 to explain how one could fulfill the exhortation
in Proverbs 4:23. (See full sermon
How to Keep the Heart).
And the peace of God, which
surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in
Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:7-note)
Spurgeon comments on keeping our
heart: Now, then, brother and sister, it is of the first
importance that you keep your heart aright. You cannot keep your heart
right but by one way. That one way is by getting, maintaining, and
enjoying peace of God to your own conscience. I beseech you then, you
that are professors of religion, do not let this night pass over your
heads till you have a confident assurance that you are now the
possessor of the peace of God. For let me tell you, if you go out to
the world next Monday morning without first having peace with God in
your own conscience, you will not be able to keep your heart during
the week. If this night, ere you rest, you could say that with God as
well as all the world you are at peace, you may go out tomorrow, and
whatever your business, I am not afraid for you. You are more than a
match for all the temptations to false doctrine, to false living, or
to false speech that may meet you. For he that has peace with God is
armed cap–a–pie; he is covered from head to foot in a panoply. The
arrow may fly against it, but it cannot pierce it, for peace with God
is a mail so strong that the broad sword of Satan itself may be broken
in twain ere it can pierce the flesh. Oh! take care that you are at
peace with God; for if you are not, you ride forth to tomorrow’s fight
unarmed, naked; and God help the man that is unarmed when he has to
fight with hell and earth. (See full sermon
How to Keep the Heart).
THE "SEQUENCE" &
OF NOT GUARDING OUR HEART
(1Jn 2:15, 16, 17)
(2Co 10:3, 4, 5-note)
(Mk 7:21, 22, 23)
Contrast "good fruit"
(Lk 6:45, Pr 16:23)
EXPLANATION OF CHART: This chart is an attempt to lay out schematically the importance of
guarding one's heart. Notice, first, our 3 untiring, mortal enemies,
the world, the flesh and the devil, which tempt us with words and
pictures, sights and sounds, continuously (cp 1Pe 2:11) bombarding us
with these "anti-God" images and ideas that can potentially
lead to anti-God thoughts and
feelings (both of which can be deceiving). Our eyes and ears are both
the portal of entry and our first line of defense against these intruders
(Job 31:1, Ps 101:3, cp Ro 13:14, Ga 5:16,17). What
comes in the eyes has the power to lead the heart astray (cp Job
31:7). Enabled by the Spirit and grace, we must continually choose to
not allow anti-God input into our heart.
The dictum "G.I.G.O." is apropos - "Garbage in, garbage out." (Mk
7:21, 22, 23, Mt 12:34, 34, 15:19, 20, Lk 6:45) If strongholds develop
or thoughts get into our heart which are raised up against the knowledge of God, we
have been granted the divine power (2Co 10:4, cp 2Pe 1:3, 4-note) and the divine charge to
destroy them (strongholds) and take them captive (thoughts) (2Co
so that they do not contaminate our heart, the "control center"
(intellect, emotions, will) of our inner man. On the other hand if we
continually allow evil thoughts entry and refuse to destroy them or to take
them captive, then the result will be evil
thoughts, words and deeds coming out of our unguarded, contaminated
heart. Thus we can see how critical it is that we
discipline (train as one working out in a gym) ourselves for godliness
(1Ti 4:7, 8-notes),
that we might continually guard our hearts, enabled and trained by God's all sufficient grace
(cp Titus 2:11, 12-note;
1Co 15:10; 2Ti 2:1-note;
and His omnipotent Spirit (Ep 5:18-note;
What happens when we don't guard our
and the head waters so to speak become polluted by moral filth, anger,
unforgiveness, envy, greed, bitterness, etc?
Jesus gives us the answer in His explanation of what truly defiles a
person (cp Mk 7:15) declaring...
That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. For
from within, out of the
of men, proceed the evil (Gk = kakos = denotes
lack of something = bad, destructive,
damaging, wicked) thoughts (Gk =
reason with thoroughness and completeness, consider
carefully!), fornications (Gk =
porneia = sexual immoralities; refers
primarily to sins of flesh, but these can never be divorced from sins
in one's heart. Sin in one area always makes us more susceptible to
sin in other areas! Eg, immorality in a marriage is almost always
accompanied by deception/lying, etc) thefts, murders, adulteries,
deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy,
slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from
within (out of a polluted heart) and defile the man. (Mark 7:21, 22,
23, cp Mt 15:11, 18, 19, 20)
Comment: Observe the first
defilement in Jesus' list -- EVIL THOUGHTS - WICKED "DESIGNS" - Why is
this "pathologic" effect emphasized? Belief determines behavior. How
one thinks or reasons will permeate, promote and permit the
actions and attitudes. We behave the way we behave, because we
believe the way we believe. Let us guard our hearts from the lies, "half
truths", and deceptions that bombard us from our relentless
enemies - THE WORLD, THE DEVIL, OUR FLESH.
As Tozer said "Every person
is really what he or she secretly admires. If I can learn what you
admire, I will know what you are, for people are what they think about
when they are free to think about what they will."
In a parallel passage as Jesus condemned the hypocrisy of
the Pharisees, He declared...
You brood of vipers,
how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out
of that which fills the
The good man out of his good treasure brings forth what is good; and
the evil man out of his evil treasure brings forth what is evil. (Mt
If our heart is right with God, our lips and our feet will be what
He wants them to be. On the other hand when our heart is defiled,
everything is defiled. Have you had a spiritual checkup lately?
You can remain healthy by keeping the Word of God in your heart (cp Ps
119:9, 10, 11). The Word of Truth and Life will spread to the other
parts of your body. Do you glorify God with your mouth, feet and
heart? What is in your heart will direct your life.
The NET Bible notes explain that the literal reads...
Heb “more than
all guarding.” This idiom means “with all vigilance.” The
construction uses the preposition min to express “above;
beyond,” the word “all” and the noun “prison; guard; act of guarding.”
The latter is the use here. (NETBible
Jerry Bridges writes
Our minds are mental greenhouses
where unlawful thoughts, once planted, are nurtured and watered before
being transplanted into the real world of unlawful actions. People
seldom fall suddenly into gluttony or immorality. These actions are
savored in the mind long before they are enjoyed in reality. The
thought life, then, is our first line of defense in the battle of
The gates to our thought lives are
primarily our eyes and our ears. What we see or read or hear largely
determines what we think. Memory, of course, also plays a big part in
what we think, but our memories only store and feed back what
originally comes into our minds through our eyes and ears. Guarding
our hearts begins with guarding our eyes and ears. We must not allow
that which panders to sexual lust, greed (called materialism in our
present society), envy, and selfish ambition to enter our minds. We
should avoid television programs, magazine or newspaper articles,
advertisements, and conversations that arouse such thoughts. We should
not only avoid them, but, to use Paul’s words to Timothy, “flee from
all this.” (Bridges, J.
The Practice of Godliness
A W Tozer spared no words
in his warning for saints to guard their hearts...
What can be said about the books
and magazines you read? What you read will shape you by slowly
conditioning your mind. Little by little, even though you think you
are resisting, you will take on the shape of the mind of the author of
that book you are reading. You will begin to put your emphasis where
he puts his. You will begin to put your values where she places hers.
You will find yourself liking what he likes, thinking as she thinks.
The same is certainly true of the power of modern films. If you give
yourself over to their influences, they will shape your mind and your
What about the music you enjoy? It seems almost too late in these
times to try to warn against what many in our society seem to revel
in—the vile, vicious, obscene gutter language of so much popular
music. It is not overstating the case to insist that the kinds of
music you enjoy will demonstrate rather accurately what you are like
inside. If you give yourself to the contemporary fare of music that
touches the baser emotions, it will shape your mind, your emotions,
your desires, whether you admit it or not.
You can drink poison if you want to, but I am still friend enough to
warn you that if you do, you will be carried out in a box. I cannot
stop you, but I can warn you. I have not the authority to tell you
what you should listen to, but I have a divine commission to tell you
that if you love and listen to the wrong kinds of music, your inner
life will wither and die. (From Tragedy in the Church)
The Puritan writer John
Flavel in his book "Keeping
the Heart (online book)"
To keep the heart then, is
carefully to preserve it from sin, which disorders it; and maintain
that spiritual frame which fits it for a life of communion with God.
This includes in it six particulars:
1) “frequent observation” of the
state of the heart (self-examination, cp 2Cor 13:5)...
2) “deep humiliation for
heart-evils and disorders” (cp Pr 28:13, 1Jn 1:9, Ps 34:18, Ps 51:1,
2, 3, 4, esp Ps 51:17, Is 57:15, 66:2, 2Ki 22:19, 20-Josiah, Ezek 9:4,
3) “earnest supplications and
instant prayer for heart-purifying and rectifying grace” (Mt 26:41)...
4) “imposing strong engagements and
bonds upon ourselves to walk more earnestly with God and avoid the
occasions whereby the heart may be induced to sin” (including for
example vows, or Job’s “covenant with mine eyes”)...
5) “a constant holy jealousy over
our own hearts...
6) the “realizing of God’s presence
with us and setting the Lord always before us” ....
here for explanation of each of these six particulars in his chapter
"What Is Keeping the Heart?")
Phil Johnson (See
Wisdom Guards the Heart)
outlines several "bullet points" regarding how we are to guard our
heart which are summarized (and paraphrased) as follows...
(1) Surrender your heart to Christ,
which clearly implies first we must be born again, a new creature in
Christ (2Co 5:17). But even then, we are to present ourselves to God
living sacrifices, doing so as an act of worship (Ro 12:1-note).
If you lack a regenerate heart (Ezek 11:19, 20, 18:31, 36:26, 27),
your heart is not worth guarding (cp Je 17:9).
(2) Mortify or put to death evil
thoughts (Col 3:5-note,
cp mortifying evil deeds in Ro 8:13-note),
choking the life out of them and not then making provision for them
again (Ro 13:14-note)
(3) Put restraints on your heart
that will keep you from entertaining iniquity in your thought life.
Abstain from every form of evil that seeks to pollute your mind. As
Paul said to Timothy, "Discipline yourselves for godliness" (1Ti 4:7,
Instead of getting your audiovisual input from the world, seek it in
the Word, and especially in the Wisdom in the Word....
(command, in the Greek the
this to be our continual activity) to my words.
(again a command to do this continually) your ear to my sayings. 21 Do
not let them depart from your sight.
(idea is to guard and this verb is again a command to do this
continually) them in the midst (the center) of your heart. 22 For they
are life to those who find them, and health (and healing, including
the idea of restoration, renewal or cure, cp same word in Mal 4:2) to
all their whole body. (Pr 4:20, 21, 22)
Application: What do you watch
or listen to when no one else is around?
(4) Guard your conscience - When
the sage here encourages us to guard our hearts, he is, in effect,
urging us to keep a healthy and active conscience. He’s saying we
should cultivate a mind and a conscience that are informed by the Word
of God. In fact, I don’t need to say much about this; it’s
self-evident. Don’t let the voice of God’s wisdom be silenced in your
own heart by the hardening of your conscience.
(5) Guard your feet (Pr 4:26, 27) -
Stay away from places where temptation assaults you.
(6) Exercise watchful, cautious
self-control over your emotions. Don’t let your emotions drive or
control your mind, but vice versa. Emotions are good, but in their
place, just like your arms are good, but they’re not for walking. Your
nose is good, but it’s not very good for driving nails. In the same
way, your emotions are good, but they’re not for thinking. Scripture
condemns the person who thinks with his emotions. Jas 3:14,15 refers
to that kind of thinking as “sensual wisdom”: wisdom driven by the
senses, thinking that is driven by the emotions.
Richard Baxter said “Keep (Cast)
out all inordinate passions (referring to emotions), for passions
violently press the thoughts and forcibly carry them away. If anger or
grief or pleasure be allowed in, they will command your thoughts.”
As someone has written “Emotions
are like screaming kids. Until you calm them down, you can’t be heard.
If you want to get rid of your bad thoughts, control your emotions.”
That’s good advice.
(7) Control your thoughts. This is
the whole point, and this is the area where the virtue of self-control
is most important. This is the one area where your battle for
self-control will be won or lost: your thought life. If you willingly
and deliberately allow yourself to indulge in evil thoughts or wicked
fantasies, what this verse says is you’re filling the wellspring of
your life with poison—and nothing is more self-destructive! “Watch
over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of
life.” We’re talking about spiritual warfare this morning. This is
classic warfare issue, right? I mean, we’ve got this reservoir up here
that feeds water to most of the San Fernando Valley… And you realize,
don’t you, that since the terrorist situation has become such a
problem, that thing is guarded carefully, constantly! Because it’s a
great danger if anyone would poison that reservoir.
How Solomon would have profited
by following his own advice! The writer of first Kings (1Ki 11)
records the tragic example of Solomon's failure to guard his heart and
should serve as a warning that should make us all shudder (!!!,
cp 1Co 10:6, 11, 12)...
1 Now King Solomon loved many
foreign women along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Ammonite,
Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women,
2 from the nations concerning which the LORD had said to the sons of
Israel, "You shall not associate with them, neither shall they
associate with you, for they will surely turn your
away after their gods." Solomon held fast to these in love.
3 And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred
concubines, and his wives turned his
4 For it came about when Solomon was old, his wives turned his
away after other gods; and his
was not wholly devoted to the LORD his God, as the
of David his father had been.
5 For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians and
after Milcom the detestable idol of the Ammonites.
6 And Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and did not
follow the LORD fully, as David his father had done.
7 Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the detestable idol of
Moab, on the mountain which is east of Jerusalem, and for Molech the
detestable idol of the sons of Ammon.
8 Thus also he did for all his foreign wives, who burned incense and
sacrificed to their gods.
9 Now the LORD was angry with Solomon because his
was turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to
10 and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go
after other gods; but he did not observe what the LORD had commanded.
11 So the LORD said to Solomon, "Because you have done this, and you
have not kept My covenant and My statutes, which I have commanded you,
I will surely tear the kingdom from you, and will give it to your
- note that this discussion also includes the closely related noun
lebab -03824) sometimes refers to a literal heart (Ex 28:29, 1Sa 25:37,
2Ki 9:24), but most often is used figurative to refer to what I term
the "control center" of our being. Think of an Air Traffic Controller
and how dysfunctional, even destructive it is when the controllers
fail to function as they should. (Note
- see notes above for
additional discussion of the heart).
Just as a healthy human heart is at the center of the body and
absolutely essential for physical life and health, so too a healthy
spiritual heart (intellect, emotion, will) is at the center of one's
inner being (soul) and is vital for a healthy soul, serving as the
"fountain" of all moral attitudes and actions. Our spiritual heart
thus controls out actions and our actions determine our
habits, which in turn determine our character. When God
measures the ''worth'' of a man's life He puts the measuring tape
around his heart, not around his head. Be a man after God's Own heart
(Acts 13:22) We must continually "post a guard" at the
doorway of our heart, so that every avenue for sin's entry is blocked.
John MacArthur - The “heart” commonly refers to the
mind as the center of thinking and reason (Pr 3:3; 6:21; 7:3), but
also includes the emotions (Pr 15:15, 30), the will (Pr 11:20; 14:14),
and thus, the whole inner being (Pr 3:5). The heart is the depository
of all wisdom and the source of whatever affects speech (Pr 4:24),
sight (Pr 4:25), and conduct (Pr 4:26, 27).
J.: The MacArthur Study Bible Nashville: Word )
John Kitto - All the
phrases, more or less metaphorical, in which this word occurs, are
rendered intelligible, without detailed examples, when we are told
that the heart was, among the Hebrews, regarded poetically not only as
the seat of the passions and emotions, as of love, pleasure, and
grief, but also of the intellectual faculties—the mind, the
understanding. In the original Scriptures, as well as in the English
and other translations, the word 'heart' therefore, constantly occurs
where 'mind' is to be understood, and would be used by a modern
English writer. We say modern, because the ancient usage of the
English word 'heart' was more conformable than the present to that of
the Hebrews. (Kitto's
Popular Cyclopedia of Biblical Literature)
Richard Watson - The
Hebrews regarded the heart as the source of wit, understanding, love,
courage, grief, and pleasure....The heart is said to be dilated by
joy, contracted by sadness, broken by sorrow, to grow fat, and be
hardened by prosperity. The heart melts under discouragement, forsakes
one under terror, is desolate in affliction, and fluctuating in doubt.
To speak to any one's heart is to comfort him, to say pleasing and
affecting things to him. The heart expresses also the middle part of
any thing: "Tyre is in the heart of the seas," Ezekiel 27:4; in the
midst of the seas. "We will not fear though the mountains be carried
into the heart (middle) of the sea," Psalms 46:2 .The heart of man is
naturally depraved and inclined to evil, Jeremiah 17:9 . A divine
power is requisite for its renovation, John 3:1-11 . When thus
renewed, the effects will be seen in the temper, conversation, and
conduct at large. Hardness of heart is that state in which a sinner is
inclined to, and actually goes on in, rebellion against God.
Bridgeway Bible Dictionary
- Both Old and New Testaments speak repeatedly of the heart as the
centre of a person’s inner life. An examination of the hundreds of
references to the heart in the Bible will show that the word is not
limited in its meaning to one particular part of a person. ‘Heart’
may refer to a person’s whole inner life – what the person really is
(1 Samuel 16:7; Psalms 22:26; Proverbs 4:23; Matthew 22:37; 1
Thessalonians 2:4); or it may refer to attributes of human personality
such as a person’s understanding (1 Kings 3:9; Proverbs 2:10; 1
Corinthians 2:9; Ephesians 1:18), desires (Deuteronomy 24:15; Proverbs
6:25; Matthew 6:21; Romans 1:24), feelings (Judges 19:6; Proverbs
14:10; Proverbs 15:30; John 14:27; James 3:14), determination (Exodus
8:15; 1 Kings 8:58; Romans 6:17; Colossians 3:22), or character (1
Samuel 13:14; Jeremiah 5:23; Romans 2:29; 2 Thessalonians 3:5; 1 Peter
3:4). Sometimes ‘heart’ is used as another word for a person’s
spirit (Psalms 51:10; Psalms 51:17; Ezekiel 36:26), soul (Deuteronomy
4:29; Proverbs 2:10; Acts 4:32) or mind (1 Samuel 2:35; Ephesians
1:18; Hebrews 8:10; cf. Matthew 22:37). The heart is what is
sometimes referred to as ‘the inner being’, and is the source of all
the wrong that a person does (Proverbs 6:14; Proverbs 6:18; Jeremiah
17:9; Mark 7:21-23; Romans 1:24-25; Ephesians 4:18; see SIN).
Therefore, the heart must be cleansed to bring forgiveness; or, to use
another picture, it must be re-created to bring new spiritual life.
Only God can bring about this cleansing or re-creation (Psalms 51:10;
Ezekiel 36:26; Acts 8:21-22; Ephesians 3:16; Hebrews 10:22). Since the
heart determines actions, a person must be careful to have
right attitudes of heart at all times (Leviticus 19:17; Psalms 4:4; 1
Timothy 1:5; James 3:14). God sees the inner condition and judges the
person accordingly (1 Samuel 16:7; Psalms 44:21; Matthew 5:8;
Revelation 2:23 (Bridgeway
The heart is the
source of whatever affects life and character (Mt 12:35;15:19).
See Also Related Resources:
word study on Heart =
Heart - International Standard Bible Encyclopedia -
Heart - Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology
Heart - Holman Bible Dictionary
Heart (includes OT allusions) - Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible
Heart (primarily discusses "kardia") - Hastings' Dictionary of the New
The Dictionary of Biblical
Imagery writes that "In the Bible heart encompasses more
than what we mean by mind (for which there is no word in biblical
Hebrew). The heart is the center of the being, where the will,
affections, thoughts, purposes and imagination reside. Human emotions
are more frequently associated with the lower organs."
In the context of Proverbs 4,
watching over one's heart involves guarding what is said
(Pr 4:24, and the heart affects what is said, Mt 12:34), what is
seen (Pr 4:25, Job 31:7, Mt 5:28), and what is done (Pr
Charles Wood writes that
"In Hebrew the heart is the “kernel
of the nut;” the internal citadel of the soul."
Oswald Chambers has an
interesting thought on heart explaining that "The Bible term “heart” is best
understood if we simply say “me,” it is the central citadel of a
man’s personality. The heart is the altar of which the physical body
is the outer court, and whatever is offered on the altar of the heart
will tell ultimately through the extremities of the body. “Keep thy
heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.”
(Chambers, O. The moral foundation of life : A series of talks on the
ethical principles of the Christian life. Hants UK: Marshall, Morgan &
Leb and its
synonym lebab (03824)
appear 860 times in the OT. The law, prophets, and Psalms often speak
of the heart. Heart is used first of man in Ge
6:5. In Ge. 6:6 leb is used of God. “Heart” may refer to the organ of
the body (Ex. 28:29, 2Sa 18:14; Ps. 38:10). Leb may also refer
to the inner part or middle of a thing (Ex 15:8; Dt. 4:11; Pr. 23:34).
means heart, mind or the inner man, contrasted to the outer man (See Dt.
30:14: Joel 2:13; 1Sa 16:7). Lebab is often compounded with “soul” for
emphasis, as in 2Chr 15:12 (cf. 2 Chr 15:15). Baker writes that
lebab primarily "describes the entire disposition of the inner person
that God can discern (1Sa 16:7); be devoted to the Lord (1Kgs 15:3);
seek the Lord (2Chr 11:16); turn against people (Ex. 14:5); be
uncircumcised (Lev. 26:41); be hardened (1 Sam. 6:6); be totally
committed to the Lord (Deut. 6:5; 2 Chr. 15:15). It is also used to
describe the place where the rational, thinking process occurs that
allows a person to know God’s blessings (Josh. 23:14); to plan for the
future (1 Kgs. 8:18); to communicate (2 Chr. 9:1); and to understand
God’s message (Isa. 6:10). Like our English usage, it often refers to
the seat of emotions, whether it refers to joy (Deut. 28:47);
discouragement (Josh. 2:11); comfort (Judg. 19:8); grief (1 Sam. 1:8);
sorrow (Ps. 13:2); or gladness (Isa. 30:29). (Ibid)
Leb can be used of the man himself or his personality: (Ge
17:17 Eccl 1:16). Leb is also
used of God in this sense (Jer. 3:15).
The seat of desire, inclination,
or will can be indicated by heart (Ex. 7:14); (Ex. 35:5; 21, 29); (Ps. 86:12). Leb
is also used of God in this sense "with my whole heart and with my whole soul” (Jer.
32:41). Two people are said to be in agreement when their “hearts” are
right with each other (2Ki10:15). In 2Chr 24:4 Joash “had in his
The “heart” is regarded as the seat of emotions: (Deut. 6:5; Ex
4:14; 1Sa 2:1). So there are “merry” hearts (Jdg. 16:25), “fearful” hearts
(Isa. 35:4), and hearts that “trembled” (1Sa 4:13).
The “heart” could be regarded as the seat of knowledge and wisdom and
as a synonym of “mind.” This meaning often occurs when “heart” appears
with the verb “to know” (Dt.
8:5;. 29:4). Solomon prayed, “Give
therefore thy servant an understanding heart” (1Ki 3:9;. 4:29). Memory
is the activity of the “heart,” as in Job 22:22.
The “heart” may be the seat of
conscience and moral character. How does one respond to the revelation
of God and of the world around him? (Job = Job 27:6, David = 2Sa 24:10).
The “heart” is the fountain of
man’s deeds (Ge 20:5-6). David walked “in uprightness of heart” (1Ki 3:6) and Hezekiah
“with a perfect heart” (Isa 38:3) before God. Only the man with
“clean hands, and a pure heart” (Ps. 24:4) can stand in God’s
Leb may refer to the seat of
rebellion and pride (Ge 8:21; Tyre in Ezek. 28:2). They all become like Judah, whose “sin...engraved
upon the tablet of their heart.” (Jer. 17:1).
God controls the “heart.” Because of his natural “heart,” man’s only
hope is in the promise of God to receive a new heart (Ezek. 36:26 =
New Covenant). So David the sinner prays “Create
in me a clean heart (Ps. 51:10), "unite my heart [give
me an undivided heart] to fear thy name” (Ps 86:11).
God tries the heart (1Chr
29:17). Hence God’s people seek His approval: test "my heart” (Ps. 26:2).
The “heart” stands for the inner being of man, the man himself. As
such, it is the fountain of all he does (Pr 4:4). All his thoughts,
desires, words, and actions flow from deep within him. Yet a man
cannot understand his own “heart” (Jer. 17:9). As a man goes on in his
own way, his “heart” becomes harder and harder. But God will
circumcise (cut away the uncleanness of) the “heart” of His people, so
that they will love and obey Him with their whole being (Dt. 30:6).
Leb - 545v NOTE
FREQUENCY IN PSALMS & PROVERBS! (THIS WOULD MAKE AN INTERESTING STUDY
OF THE "HEART") - Gen 6:5f; 8:21;
17:17; 18:5; 24:45; 27:41; 34:3; 42:28; 50:21; Exod 4:14, 21; 7:3,
13f, 22f; 8:15, 19, 32; 9:7, 12, 21, 34f; 10:1, 20, 27; 11:10; 14:4,
8, 17; 15:8; 25:2; 28:3, 29f; 31:6; 35:5, 10, 21f, 25f, 29, 34f;
36:1f, 8; Num 16:28; 24:13; 32:7, 9; Deut 4:11; 28:65; 29:4, 19; Josh
11:20; 14:8; Judg 5:9, 15f; 16:15, 17f, 25; 18:20; 19:3, 5f, 22; Ruth
2:13; 3:7; 1 Sam 1:13; 2:1; 4:13, 20; 6:6; 9:20; 10:9, 26; 17:32;
24:5; 25:25, 31, 36f; 27:1; 28:5; 2 Sam 6:16; 7:21, 27; 13:20, 28, 33;
14:1; 15:6, 13; 17:10; 18:3, 14; 19:7, 19; 24:10; 1 Kgs 3:9, 12; 4:29;
8:23, 47, 66; 9:3; 10:24; 11:3; 12:26f, 33; 18:37; 21:7; 2 Kgs 5:26;
6:11; 9:24; 12:4; 14:10; 23:3; 1 Chr 12:33, 38; 15:29; 16:10; 17:19;
28:9; 29:9; 2 Chr 6:14, 38; 7:10f, 16; 9:23; 12:14; 17:6; 24:4; 25:19;
26:16; 30:12, 22; 32:25f; Ezra 6:22; 7:27; Neh 2:2, 12; 4:6; 6:8; 7:5;
Esther 1:10; 5:9; 6:6; 7:5; JOB - Job 1:8; 2:3; 7:17; 8:10; 11:13; 12:24;
15:12; 17:4; 23:16; 29:13; 31:7, 9, 27; 33:3; 34:14; 36:5, 13; 37:1,
PSALMS - Ps 4:7; 7:9f; 9:1; 10:6, 11, 13, 17; 11:2; 12:2; 13:5;
14:1; 16:9; 17:3; 19:8, 14; 21:2; 22:14; 26:2; 27:3, 8, 14; 28:7;
31:12; 32:11; 33:11, 15, 21; 34:18; 35:25; 36:1, 10; 37:4, 15, 31;
38:8, 10; 39:3; 40:10, 12; 41:6; 44:18, 21; 45:1, 5; 46:2; 48:13;
49:3; 51:10, 17; 53:1; 55:4, 21; 57:7; 58:2; 61:2; 62:10; 64:6, 10;
66:18; 69:20; 74:8; 76:5; 78:8, 37; 81:12; 83:5; 84:2; 94:15; 97:11;
102:4; 105:3, 25; 107:12; 108:1; 109:22; 112:7f; 119:2, 10f, 32, 34,
36, 58, 69f, 80, 111f, 145, 161; 125:4; 131:1; 138:1; 140:2; 141:4;
PROVERBS - Pr 2:2, 10; 3:1, 3, 5; 4:4, 23; 5:12; 6:14, 18, 21,
32; 7:3, 7, 10, 25; 8:5; 9:4, 16; 10:8, 13, 20f; 11:12, 20; 12:8, 11,
20, 23, 25; 13:12; 14:10, 13f, 30, 33; 15:7, 11, 13ff, 21, 28, 30, 32;
16:1, 5, 9, 21, 23; 17:3, 16, 18, 20, 22; 18:2, 12, 15; 19:3, 8, 21;
20:5, 9; 21:1f, 4; 22:11, 15, 17; 23:7, 12, 15, 17, 19, 26, 33f; 24:2,
12, 17, 30, 32; 25:3, 20; 26:23, 25; 27:9, 11, 19, 23; 28:14, 26;
Eccl 1:13, 16f; 2:1, 3, 10, 15, 20, 23; 3:11, 17f; 5:2, 20; 7:2ff, 7,
21, 25f; 8:5, 9, 11, 16; 9:1, 3, 7; 10:2f; 11:9f; Song 3:11; 5:2; 8:6;
Isa 6:10; 15:5; 24:7; 29:13; 32:6; 33:18; 35:4; 38:3; 40:2; 42:25;
44:18ff; 46:8, 12; 47:7, 10; 51:7; 57:1, 11, 15, 17; 59:13; 61:1;
63:4, 17; 65:14, 17; 66:14; Jer 3:10, 15ff; 4:9, 14, 18f; 5:21, 23;
7:24, 31; 8:18; 9:14, 26; 11:8, 20; 12:3, 11; 13:10; 14:14; 16:12;
17:1, 5, 9f; 18:12; 19:5; 20:9, 12; 22:17; 23:9, 16f, 20, 26; 24:7;
30:21, 24; 31:21, 33; 32:35, 39, 41; 44:21; 48:29, 36, 41; 49:16, 22;
Lam 1:20, 22; 2:18f; 3:21, 33, 65; 5:15, 17; Ezek 2:4; 3:7; 6:9;
11:19, 21; 13:2, 17; 14:3ff, 7; 18:31; 20:16; 21:7, 15; 22:14; 27:4,
25ff; 28:2, 6, 8, 17; 32:9; 33:31; 36:26; 40:4; 44:5, 7, 9; Dan 1:8;
10:12; Hos 2:14; 4:11; 7:6, 11, 14; 10:2; 11:8; 13:6, 8; Amos 2:16;
Obad 1:3; Nah 2:10; Zeph 3:14; Zech 7:12; 10:7; 12:5; Mal 2:2; 4:6
Usage of Leb: accord(1),
attention(4), attention*(1), bravest*(1), brokenhearted*(3), care*(2),
celebrating*(1), chests*(1), completely*(1), concern*(1),
concerned*(1), conscience(1), consider*(2), considered*(2),
courage(1), decided*(1), determine*(1), discouraged*(1),
discouraging*(1), doing*(1), double heart(1), encouragingly*(1),
heart(396), heart's(2), hearts(40), Himself(1), himself(6),
imagination(1), inspiration(2), intelligence(1), kindly(5), life(1),
merry-hearted*(1), middle(2), midst(1), mind(36), minds(3), myself(6),
obstinate*(2), planned*(1), presume*(1), pride*(1), recalls*(1),
reflected*(1), regard*(1), self-exaltation*(1), sense(10),
senseless*(1), seriously(1), skill*(1), skilled*(1), skillful man*(1),
skillful men*(1), skillful persons*(1), skillful*(3), spirits(1),
stouthearted*(1), stubborn-minded*(1), tenderly(2), thought(3),
understanding(7), undivided*(1), well(2), willingly*(1), wisdom(2),
NOTE FREQUENCY IN DEUTERONOMY! - 228v - Ge 20:5-6; Ex 14:5; Lev 19:17; 26:36, 41; Num 15:39;
DEUTERONOMY - Deut
1:28; 2:30; 4:9, 29, 39; 5:29; 6:5-6; 7:17; 8:2, 5, 14, 17; 9:4-5;
10:12, 16; 11:13, 16, 18; 13:3; 15:7, 9-10; 17:17, 20; 18:21; 19:6;
20:3, 8; 26:16; 28:28, 47, 67; 29:18; 30:1-2, 6, 10, 14, 17; 32:46;
Josh 2:11; 5:1; 7:5; 14:7; 22:5; 23:14; 24:23; Jdg 19:8-9; 1Sa 1:8;
2:35; 6:6; 7:3; 9:19; 12:20, 24; 13:14; 14:7; 16:7; 17:28; 21:12; 2Sa7:3; 19:14; 1Kgs 2:4, 44; 3:6; 8:17-18, 38-39, 48, 58, 61; 9:4; 10:2;
11:2, 4, 9; 14:8; 15:3, 14; 2Kgs 10:15, 30f; 20:3; 22:19; 23:25; 1Chr 12:17, 38; 17:2; 22:7, 19; 28:2, 9; 29:17-19; 2Chr 1:11; 6:7f, 30,
37; 9:1; 11:16; 13:7; 15:12, 15, 17; 16:9; 19:3, 9; 20:33; 22:9; 25:2;
29:10, 34; 30:19; 31:21; 32:6, 31; 34:27, 31; 36:13; Ezra 7:10; Neh
9:8; JOB Job 1:5; 9:4; 10:13; 12:3; 17:11; 22:22; 27:6; 34:10, 34;
PSALMS - Ps 4:4;
13:2; 15:2; 20:4; 22:26; 24:4; 25:17; 28:3; 31:24; 62:8; 69:32; 73:1,
7, 13, 21, 26; 77:6; 78:18, 72; 84:5; 86:11-12; 90:12; 95:8, 10; 101:2,
4-5; 104:15; 109:16; 111:1; 119:7; 139:23; PROVERBS - Pr 4:21; 6:25; Eccl 9:3;
ISAIAH - Isa 1:5; 6:10; 7:2, 4; 9:9; 10:7, 12; 13:7; 14:13; 19:1; 21:4; 30:29;
32:4; 47:8; 49:21; 60:5; JEREMIAH - Jer 4:4; 5:24; 13:22; 15:16; 29:13; 32:40;
51:46, 50; Lam 3:41; Ezek 3:10; 28:5f; 31:10; 36:5; 38:10; Daniel 8:25;
11:12, 25, 27-28; Hosea 7:2; Joel 2:12-13; Jonah 2:3; Nah 2:7; Zeph 1:12;
2:15; Hag 1:5, 7; 2:15, 18; Zech 7:10; 8:17.
NAS Usage of Lebab:
anger(1), breasts(1), conscientious*(1), consider*(5), courage(1),
desire(1), encouragingly*(1), fainthearted*(3), heart(185), heart
and the hearts(1), heart's(1), hearts(27),
hearts like his heart(1),
intelligence(1), intended(2), mind(8), purpose(1), thought(1),
timid*(1), understanding(2), wholehearted*(1), wholeheartedly*(1),
Adam Clarke writes ""Above all keeping," guard thy
heart. He who knows any thing of himself, knows how apt his affections
are to go astray.
Spurgeon writes that "Some of your hearts are not worth
keeping. The sooner you get rid of them the better. They are hearts of
stone. Do you feel today that you have a stony heart? Go home, and I
pray the Lord hear my desire that your polluted heart may be removed.
Cry unto God and say, “Take away my heart of stone, and give me a
heart of flesh;” (Ezek 11:19, 36:26) for a stony heart is an impure
heart, a divided heart, an unpeaceful heart. It is a heart that is
poor and poverty–stricken, a heart that is void of all goodness, and
you can neither bless thyself nor others, if your heart be such. (Proverbs
4:23 The Great Reservoir)
J Vernon McGee writes
the heart symbolizes the
center of one’s innermost being. The Lord Jesus said that it isn’t
what goes into a man that defiles him, but what comes out of a man.
“For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries,
fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies” (Mt 15:19). Some of
the meanest things in the world come out of the human heart. The
heart is the seat of the total personality. If you want to know
how important the heart is, get your concordance and look up
all the references to the heart that are in the Bible (Ed: see below
for OT & NT Scriptures you can study!). We are to keep our hearts with
all diligence. What we hear is important. What we study is important.
What we see is important. We should recognize that out of that heart
will come all of the great issues of our lives.
Let’s not miss the fact that the
Book of Proverbs, written long before Harvey made the discovery of the
circulation of blood, makes a statement about the heart that centuries
later science demonstrated to be true. In the Book of Proverbs (and
this can be said of the entire Bible) you will find no unscientific or
Spurgeon wrote that...
Inasmuch as the heart is the most
important part of man—for out of it are the issues of life—it would be
natural to expect that Satan, when he intended to do mischief to
manhood, would be sure to make his strongest and most perpetual
attacks upon the heart. What we might have guessed in wisdom, is
certainly true in experience; for although Satan will tempt and try us
in every way, though every gate of the town of Mansoul may be
battered, though, against every part of the walls thereof he will be
sure to bring out his great guns, yet the place against which he
levels his deadliest malice, and his most furious strength, is the
heart. Into the heart, already of itself evil enough (Jer 17:9), he
thrusts the seeds of every evil thing, and doth his utmost to make it
a den of unclean birds, a garden of poisonous trees, a river flowing
with destructive water. Hence, again, arises the second necessity that
we should be doubly cautious in keeping the heart with all diligence;
for if, on the one hand, it be the most important, and, on the other
hand, Satan, knowing this, makes his most furious and determined
attacks against it, then, with double force the exhortation comes,
"Keep thy heart with all diligence."
Guthrie writes that...
He who would keep his heart pure
and holy must plant a sentinel at every avenue by which sin may find
access there, guarding against none more than the “little” sins, as
they are called. The man of God has his eyes to keep, and so Job said,
“I have made a covenant with mine eyes” (Job 31:1)—his tongue, and
hence the exhortation, “Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from
speaking guile”—his ears, and hence the warning, “Cease, my son, to
hear the instruction that causes to err”—his feet, and hence David
says, “I have refrained my feet from every evil way, that I might keep
thy word.” And since there is no gate of the five senses by which the
enemy may not come in like a flood, unless the Spirit lift up a
standard against him, we have need to guard every port, and write over
every portal, “Here there entereth nothing to hurt or to defile.”
(Thoughts for the Quiet Hour)
Mark Water writes that we
watch over our hearts in two ways
First, we guard our
affections by mortifying our members (Colossians 3:5). The apostle is
saying, “You are to prevent the working and deceit of sin, which is in
your members.” He also says, “Set your affection on things above, not
on things on the earth”(3:2). Fixing and filling your affections with
heavenly things will mortify sin.
What are the objects of such affections? They include God Himself, in
His beauty and glory; the Lord Jesus Christ, who is “altogether
lovely… the chiefest of ten thousand” (Song of Solomon 5:10, 16);
grace and glory; the mysteries of the gospel; and the blessings
promised by the .)
Second, let us fix our
affections on the cross of Christ. Paul says, “God forbid that I
should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, whereby the
world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (Gal 6:14). When
someone sets his affections upon the cross and the love of Christ, he
crucifies the world as a dead and undesirable thing. The baits of sin
lose their attraction and disappear. Fill your affections with the
cross of Christ and you will find no room for sin. The world put Him
out of a house and into a stable, when He came to save us. Let Him now
turn the world out-of-doors, when He comes to sanctify us.
Remember also that the vigor of our
affections toward heavenly things is apt to decline unless it is
constantly looked after, exercised, directed, and warned. God speaks
often in Scripture of those who lost their first love, allowing their
affections to decay. Let us be jealous over our hearts to prevent such
backsliding. (Water, M. The New Encyclopedia of Christian Quotations.
Alresford, Hampshire: John Hunt Publishers Ltd)
The Puritan John Flavel
has the following discussion on Proverbs 4:23 in his introductory
THE heart of man is his worst part
before it is regenerated, and the best afterward; it is the seat of
principles, and the fountain of actions.
The eye of God is,
and the eye of the Christian ought to be,
principally fixed upon it.
The greatest difficulty in
is to win the heart to God;
and the greatest difficulty after conversion,
is to keep the heart with God.
Here lies the very force and stress
of religion; here is that which makes the way to life a narrow way,
and the gate of heaven a strait gate. Direction and help in this great
work are the scope of the text: wherein we have,
I. An exhortation, “Keep thy heart with all diligence.”
II. The reason or motive enforcing it, “For out of it are the issues
In the exhortation I shall consider,
First, The matter of the duty.
Secondly, The manner of performing it.
I. The matter of the duty: Keep thy heart. Heart is not here
taken properly for the noble part of the body, which philosophers call
“the first that lives and the last that dies ;“ but by heart, in a
metaphor, the Scripture sometimes represents some particular noble
faculty of the soul. In Ro. 1:21, it is put for the understanding;
their foolish heart, that is, their foolish understanding was
darkened. Ps 119:11, it is put for the memory; “Thy word have I hid in
my heart ;“ and 1Jn 3:10, it is put for the conscience, which includes
both the light of the understanding and the recognitions of the
memory; if our heart condemn us, that is, if our conscience, whose
proper office it is to condemn.
But in the text we are to take it more generally, for the whole soul,
or inner man. What the heart is to the body, that the soul is to the
man; and what health is to the heart, that holiness is to the soul.
The state of the whole body depends upon the soundness and vigor of
the heart, and the everlasting state of the whole man upon the good or
ill condition of the soul.
By keeping the heart, understand the diligent and constant use of
all holy means to preserve the soul from sin, and maintain its sweet
and free communion with God. [I say constant, for the reason added
in the text extends the duty to all the states and conditions of a
Christian’s life, and makes it binding always. If the heart must be
kept, because out of it are the issues of life, then as long as these
issues of life do flow out of it, we are obliged to keep it.] Lavater
on the text will have the word taken from a besieged garrison, beset
by many enemies without, and in danger of being betrayed by
treacherous citizens within, in which danger the soldiers, upon pain
of death, are commanded to watch; and though the expression, Keep
thy heart, seems to put it upon us as our work, yet it does not
imply a sufficiency in us to do it. We are as able to stop the sun in
its course, or to make the rivers run backward, as by our own skill
and power to rule and order our hearts. We may as well be our own
saviors as our own keepers; and yet Solomon speaks properly enough
when he says, Keep thy heart, because the duty is ours, though
the power is of God; what power we have depends upon the exciting and
assisting strength of Christ (Php 2:13). Grace within us is beholden
to grace without us. “Without me ye can do nothing.” (Jn 15:5)
So much for the matter of the duty.
2. The manner of performing it is with all diligence. The
Hebrew is very emphatic; keep with all keeping, or, keep, keep, set
double guards. This vehemency of expression with which the duty is
urged, plainly implies how difficult it is to keep our hearts, how
dangerous to neglect them!
The motive to this duty is very forcible and weighty: “For out of the
heart are the issues of life.” That is, the heart is the source of all
vital operations; it is the spring and original of both good and evil,
as the spring in a watch that sets all the wheels in motion. The heart
is the treasury, the hand and tongue but the shops; what is in these,
comes from that; the hand and tongue always begin where the heart
ends. The heart contrives, and the members execute: “a good man, out
of the good treasure of his, heart, bringeth forth that which is good;
and an evil man, out of the evil treasure of his heart, bringeth forth
that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth
speaketh.” (Luke 6:45) So then, if the heart err in its work, these
must miscarry in theirs; for heart errors are like the errors of the
first concoction, which cannot be rectified afterward; or like the
misplacing and inverting of the stamps and letters in the press, which
must cause so many errata in all the copies that are printed. O then
how important a duty is that which is contained in the following:
The keeping and right managing of the heart in every condition, is one
great business of a Christian’s life.
What the philosopher says of waters, is as properly applicable to
hearts; it is hard to keep them within any bounds, God has set limits
to them, yet how frequently do they transgress not only the bounds of
grace and religion, but even of reason and common honesty? This is
that which affords the Christian matter of’ labor and watchfulness, to
his dying day. It is not the cleaning of the hand that makes the
Christian, for many a hypocrite can show as fair a hand as he; but the
purifying, watching, and right ordering of the heart; this is the
thing that provokes so many sad complaints, and costs so many deep
groans and tears. It was the pride of Hezekiah’s heart that made him
lie in the dust, mourning before the Lord. It was the fear of
hypocrisy’s invading the heart that made David cry, “Let my heart be
sound in thy statutes, that I be not ashamed.” It was the sad
experience he had of the divisions and distractions of his own heart
in the service of God, that made him pour out the prayer, “Unite my
heart to fear thy name.” (See
Keeping the Heart -- Chapter 1)
J W Miller explains
The Hebrew term heart is not
simply a metaphor for feelings or emotions but also refers to the
actual place in the body where thinking occurs and wisdom is born. How
the heart was viewed at the time is spelled out in a lucid text from
ancient Egypt, which describes how the heart is related to other
bodily organs in performing its task:
The sight of the eyes, the hearing
of the ears, and the smelling the air by the nose, they report to the
heart. It is this [the heart] which causes every completed (concept)
to come forth, and it is the tongue which announces what the heart
thinks. (“The Theology of Memphis,” Pritchard: 5)
In other words the heart receives
factual knowledge from the surrounding world, reflects on it, and
then, through speech, expresses the conclusions drawn. The heart is
the bodily organ by means of which the raw data of experience is
shaped into thoughts, concepts, or judgments.
The thoughts of the heart
are vital to the health and vitality of the whole body. That too is
why those who lack wisdom are spoken of in Proverbs (and in Egyptian
literature) as lacking heart (Pr 7:7; NIV: judgment). They lack the
capacity or willingness to think things through and come forth with
realistic judgments or thoughts
In his Anthropology of the Old
Testament, Hans Walther Wolff has shown that in most cases in the
Bible where the term “heart” is used, “intellectual, rational
functions” are ascribed to it, “precisely what we ascribe to the head
and, more exactly, to the brain” (1Sa 25:37). For this reason it is no
accident, Wolff continues, that the term heart “occurs by far the most
frequently in the wisdom literature of the Bible—99 times in Proverbs
alone, 42 times in Ecclesiastes, and in the strongly didactic
Deuteronomy 51 times”. That too is why the admonition to guard your
heart above all else (4:23) may be thought of as one of the core
challenges of the book of Proverbs. To guard your heart is “a
fundamental precept, like Socrates’ ‘know thyself’ ” (R. Van Leeuwen,
1997:61). (Miller, J. W. Proverbs. Believers Church Bible Commentary.
Scottdale, Pa.: Herald Press) (Bolding added)
Cohen writes that in
Solomon's day the heart was considered to be...
the central organ which conditions
all man’s activities and upon whose correct functioning depends the
character of his living.
The BKC adds that in Pr
the word heart means
more than mental or emotional capacity; it also encompasses one’s
values (cf. Mt. 6:21-note).
Heart in Hebrew refers to
one’s emotions (Pr 12:25; 13:12; 14:10, 13) but more often to his
intellect (such as understanding, Pr 10:8; discernment, Pr 15:14;
reflection, Pr 15:28), or will (Pr 5:12).(Walvoord,
J. F., Zuck, R. B., et al: The Bible Knowledge Commentary. 1985.
Murphy observes that
The heart is the central
organ of the body in the wisdom literature. It is often paraphrased as
“mind,” since it does have an intellectual component (cf. the
usual, if unfortunate, translation of the “listening heart” of Solomon
in 1Ki 3:9 as “understanding mind”). But it is also the basic
orientation of a person, embracing desires, emotions, and attitude.
The description of the deterioration of Solomon’s “heart” in
1Ki 11:3, 4, 9 is more than a picture of mental lapse! If the
teacher’s words are in the heart, they are life and healing (Pr 4:21;
cf. Pr 3:8). Hence the need to guard the heart, for it is the
source of “the surges of life”—literally, “from it the goings out of
life”. The heart is imaged as a water source from which life
erupts. Pr 4:24, 25, 26, 27 Appropriately in this passage the heart
carries along several other organs of the body (cf. ear and eyes
already in Pr 4:20, 21) mentioned frequently in wisdom instruction:
mouth, lips, and eyes (parallel to “eyelids” or “orbs” in Pr 4:25),
mouth, lips, and even the foot and hand. Such organs are affected by
what is in the heart, for this gives the direction from which
one is never to swerve, either right or left (Pr 4:27; cf. Dt 5:29).
Two words for “eyes” appear in Pr 4:25, the second of which
seems to mean the “eyelid” or “eyelash” probably related to the root,
“to fly,” and hence indicating the fluttering eyelashes). The youth is
to have “tunnel” vision, without any blinking, as described in Pr
17:24: the perceptive person looks straight ahead at wisdom, but the
eyes of a fool are on the ends of the earth. The internalization of
wisdom teaching (Pr 4:21) is matched by the internalization of evil in
the heart of the wicked in Pr 6:14, 18. (Murphy, R. E. Vol. 22: Word
Biblical Commentary: Proverbs. Word Biblical Commentary. 2002)
Charles Bridges writes
Invaluable are these rules as our
safeguard. Assaulted as we are at every point, every inlet of sin must
be strongly guarded - the heart... the citadel of man -
the seat of his dearest treasure. It is fearful to think of its many
watchful and subtle assailants. Let it be closely garrisoned. Let the
sentinel be never sleeping on his post. "Take heed to thy way, and
keep thy soul diligently." (Dt. 4:9.) But the heart must be known in
order to be effectually kept. Nothing is more difficult, while nothing
is more necessary. If we know not our hearts, we know nothing to any
purpose. Whatever else we know, to neglect this knowledge is to be a
fool at the best. If we know not our weak points, Satan knows them
well--"the sins that most easily beset us." (cp Heb 12:1) Then when I
know my heart, and feel it to be so dangerous, and in such dangers,
the question forces itself upon me -‘Can I keep my heart?' Certainly
not. But, though it be God's work, it is man's agency. Our efforts are
His instrumentality. He implants an active principle, and sustains the
unceasing exercise. (Phil 2:12, 13. Jude 1:24 with Jude 1:21)
Conscious faith "commits the keeping of the heart to our faithful
Creator." (1Pe 4:19. Ps 25:20.) This done-in His strength and guidance
diligently improve all the means of preservation. Watch unto prayer.
Cherish an humble dependent spirit. Live in the atmosphere of the word
of God. Resist the admittance of an evil world, even in its most
plausible forms. (Example of Gideon's refusal to rule over - Jdg 8:22,
23. Example of the prophet Elisha's refusal of taking anything from
the pagan king for doing the Lord's work - 2Ki 5:5, 16) Here lies the
conflict to the end. ‘The greatest difficulty in conversion is to win
the heart to God, and after conversion to keep it with him.' 'What is
there'- asks Mede-‘that will not entice and allure so fickle a thing
as the heart from God?’
Above all keeping - exhorts the
wise man - keep thine heart. Here Satan keeps -here therefore must we
keep- special watch. If the citadel be taken, the whole town must
surrender. If the heart be seized, the whole man- the affections,
desires, motives, pursuits-all will be yielded up. The heart is the
vital part of the body. A wound here is instant death. Thus
spiritually as well as naturally, out of the heart are the issues of
life. It is the great vital spring of the soul, the fountain of
actions, the centre and the seat of principle, both of sin and of
holiness. (Mt 12:34, 35.) The natural heart is a fountain of poison.
(Mt 15:19) The purified heart is "a well of living water." (Jn, 4:14.)
As is the fountain, so must be the streams. As is the heart, so must
be the mouth, the eyes, the feet. Therefore, above all keeping, keep
thine heart. Guard the fountain, lest the waters be poisoned. (Cp. Ge
26:18, 19, 20, 21) Many have been the bitter moments, from the neglect
of this guard. All keeping is vain, if the heart be not kept. But with
this keeping, let us not forget to guard the outlets of sin! (Pr 13:3,
Pr 4:24) What a world of evil does 'the heart, pour out from the
froward mouth! (Jas 3:5, 6) Commit, therefore, both heart and mouth to
Divine discipline. (Ps 19:13; 141:3, 4.) Then let prayer and faith be
the practical principles of Christian watchfulness. Not only shun, but
put away-yea-far from thee-the perverse lips. Their evil--be it
remembered-extends beyond ourselves. Even should the peace-speaking
blood speak peace to ourselves, still will remain the painful sense of
injury to our fellow-creatures, perhaps without remedy.
(Bridges, C. Commentary on Proverbs)
Thomas Constable explains
that the Hebrew concept of...
Heart (Pr 4:23) usually
means “mind” (Pr 3:3; Pr 6:32a ["sense" = Hebrew leb =
"heart"]; Pr 7:7b [again, "sense" = "heart"]; et al.), but it has a
much broader meaning that includes the emotions (Pr 15:15, 30),
the will (Pr 11:20; 14:14), and even the whole inner person
(Pr 3:5). Here the affections are particularly in view. With
verses Pr 4:20, 21, 22, verse 23 helps us see that the life in view is
not some prize that one gains all at once. It is rather a growing
spiritual vitality that enervates the wise person and enables him or
her to reach out and help others effectively (cf. Mark 7:15, 16, 17,
18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23; Luke 6:45; John 4:14 and especially John
7:38). (Tom Constable's Expository Notes on the Bible)
Harry Ironside comments
on Solomon's figurative use of heart noting that...
Here is displayed a scientific
knowledge and accuracy far beyond the times in which Solomon wrote.
The great discovery of Harvey, the circulation of the blood, which
revolutionized medical thought, is here calmly taken for granted, and
used to set forth, or illustrate, a spiritual truth. Just as the heart
is the centre of the physical system, whence flow the issues of life,
so, in a moral and spiritual sense, the heart, used as a synonym for
the soul, is that which must be jealously guarded, that thence may go
forth that which is for the upbuilding of the child of God. (Ironside,
H. A. Notes on the Book of Proverbs. 1908)
The IVP Bible Background
Commentary (OT) notes that...
It is a common tradition in the
ancient Near East for the heart to be the seat of the intellect (see
Pr 14:33) and the source of stability for one who would adhere to a
just and wise life (see Solomon’s request in 1Kings 3:5, 6, 7, 8, 9).
(Matthews, V. H., Chavalas, M. W., & Walton, J. H. The IVP
Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament. Downers Grove, IL:
Conrad Mbewe has an article
entitled Pastoral Purity in which he addresses guarding our
The first responsibility in this
single-eyed pursuit of godliness is the guarding of the heart. The
wise man spoke well when he said, "Above all else, guard your heart,
for it is the wellspring of life" (Proverbs 4:23). The minister's
heart is the heart of his ministry. Be sure of this: Out of the
abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Keeping the eye and heart and
spirit and conscience pure is the future of a man's ministry. So,
beware of sins of the heart—pride, envy, jealousy, lust, greed, anger,
and sloth. No wonder that history has dubbed them "the seven deadly
sins"! Long before a person makes visible shipwreck of his life and
ministry, his heart has been allowed to be a citadel of sin. I say
again, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.
This is the greatest battle you will ever wage in your life and
ministry. We may all keep away from physical adultery and actual
theft. But how many people have reduced their ministries into
ego-centric showrooms that have absolutely nothing to do with the
glory of God? How many men's once robust ministries have shriveled
because they were envious of other men's ministries? How many good men
have been driven by jealousy into riding a hobbyhorse of what the
Chinese call "killing a fly on the forehead of a friend using a
hatchet"? What about that wandering eye that fails to see a member of
the opposite sex without thinking of the bedroom? How many men are
presently laboring outside God's will, all because of seeking a more
lucrative ministry? The list is endless. Brethren, these are the sins
that kill the spirituality and power of our ministries long before any
overt sins are visible to our people. There is no doubt that to keep
your ministry alive and kicking year after year, you must train
yourself to be godly. (The Founder's Journal, 2002).
Davis Huckabee writes that
in this verse Solomon..
recognizes what is our greatest
need, and gives command to strictly guard that which is the motive
center and power plant of all our doings. This reminds us of Matthew
15:16. To leave the heart unguarded is to surrender the whole citadel
of the soul. “As the heart is the center of motion to the circulation
of the blood, which is the (animal) life (Lv 17:11, 14), so
spiritually, as the seat of the desires and affections, it is designed
to be the center and fountain of the heavenly life,” [Faussett]. Sin
has so corrupted the heart, however, that it cannot perform its
ordained function until it has been cleansed and changed in the new
Peter Marshall former
chaplain of the US Senate tells the following story “The Keeper of the
Spring” which illustrates the importance of constantly guarding our
An elderly, quiet forest dweller
once lived high above an Austrian village along the eastern slopes of
the Alps. Many years ago, the town council had hired this old
gentleman as Keeper of the Spring to maintain the purity of the pools
of water in the mountain crevices. The overflow from these pools ran
down the mountainside and fed the lovely spring that flowed through
the town. With faithful, silent regularity, the Keeper of the Spring
patrolled the hills, removed the leaves and branches from the pools,
and wiped away the silt that would otherwise choke and contaminate the
fresh flow of water.
By and by, the village became a
popular attraction for vacationers. Graceful swans floated along the
crystal-clear spring, the mill wheels of various businesses located
near the water turned day and night, farmlands were naturally
irrigated, and the view from restaurants sparkled.
Years passed. One evening the town
council met for its semiannual meeting. As the council members
reviewed the budget, one man’s eye caught the salary paid the obscure
Keeper of the Spring. “Who is this old man?” he asked indignantly.
“Why do we keep paying him year after year? No one ever sees him. For
all we know, this man does us no good. He isn’t necessary any longer!”
By a unanimous vote, the council dispensed with the old man’s
For several weeks nothing changed.
But by early autumn, the trees began to shed their leaves. Small
branches snapped off and fell into the pools, hindering the rushing
flow of sparkling water. One afternoon, someone noticed a slight
yellowish-brown tint to the water in the spring. A few days later, the
water had darkened even more. Within a week, a slimy film covered
sections of the water along the banks, and a foul odor emanated from
the spring. The mill wheels moved slowly; some finally ground to a
halt. Businesses that were located near the water closed. The swans
migrated to fresher waters far away, and tourists no longer visited
the town. Eventually, the clammy fingers of disease and sickness
reached deeply into the village.
The shortsighted town council had
enjoyed the beauty of the spring but underestimated the importance of
guarding its source. We can make the same mistake in our lives. Like
the Keeper of the Spring who maintained the purity of the water, you
and I are the Keepers of Our Hearts. We need to consistently evaluate
the purity of our hearts in prayer, asking God to reveal the little
things that contaminate us. As God reveals our wrong attitudes,
longings, and desires, we must remove them from our hearts. (from
Joshua Harris' book
I Kissed Dating Goodbye.
A W Pink has an entire
Heart Work (click for entire
chapter - recommended),
writing that keeping of the heart with all diligence...
is the great task which God has
assigned unto each of His children. But oh, how sadly is the heart
neglected! Of all their concerns and possessions, the least diligence
is used by the vast majority of professing Christians in the keeping
of their hearts. As long as they safeguard their other interests—their
reputations, their bodies, their positions in the world—the heart may
be left to take its own course.
As the heart in our physical body is the center and fountain of life,
because from it blood circulates into every part, conveying with it
either health or disease, so it is with us spiritually. If our heart
be the residence of impiety, pride, avarice, malice, impure lusts,
then the whole current of our lives will largely be tainted with these
vices. If they are admitted there and prevail for a season, then our
character and conduct will be proportionately affected. Therefore the
citadel of the heart needs above all things to be well guarded, that
it may not be seized by those numerous and watchful assailants which
are ever attacking it. This spring needs to be well protected that its
waters be not poisoned.
The man is what his heart is. If this be dead to God, then nothing in
him is alive. If this be right with God, all will be right. As the
mainspring of a watch sets all its wheels and parts in motion, so as a
man "thinketh in his heart, so is he" (Pr 23:7). If the heart be
right, the actions will be. As a man’s heart is, such is his state now
and will be hereafter: if it be regenerated and sanctified there will
be a life of faith and holiness in this world, and everlasting life
will be enjoyed in the world to come. Therefore,
"Rather look to the cleansing of
thine heart, than to the cleansing of thy well; rather look to the
feeding of thine heart, than to the feeding of thy flock; rather look
to the defending of thine heart, than to the defending of thine house;
rather look to the keeping of thine heart, than to the keeping of thy
money" (Peter Moffat, 1570).
"Keep thy heart with all diligence,
for Out of it are the issues of life" (Pr 4:23). The "heart" is here
put for our whole inner being, the "hidden man of the heart" (1Pe
3:4). It is that which controls and gives character to all that we do.
To "keep"—garrison or guard—the heart or soul is the great work which
God has assigned us: the enablement is His, but the duty is ours.
We are to keep the imagination from vanity, the understanding from
error, the will from perverseness, the conscience clear of guilt, the
affections from being inordinate and set on evil objects, the mind
from being employed on worthless or vile subjects; the whole from
being possessed by Satan. This is the work to which God has called us.
Rightly did the Puritan John Flavel
"The keeping and right managing of
the heart in every condition is the great business of a Christian’s
Now to "keep" the heart
right implies that it has been set right. Thus it was at regeneration,
when it was given a new spiritual bent. True conversion is the heart
turning from Satan’s control to God’s, from sin to holiness, from the
world to Christ. To keep the heart right signifies the constant care
and diligence of the renewed to preserve his soul in that holy frame
to which grace has reduced it and daily strives to hold it.
"Hereupon do all events depend: the
heart being kept, the whole course of our life here will be according
to the mind of God, and the end of it will be the enjoyment of Him
hereafter. This being neglected, life will be lost, both here as unto
obedience, and hereafter as to glory" (John Owen in Causes of
Here is Pink's summary of what it
means to keep the heart. The reader is advised to read the extended
discussion that goes with each point by
1. To "keep" the heart means
striving to shut out from it all that is opposed to God...
2. To "keep" the heart means
striving to bring it into conformity with the Word...
3. To "keep" the heart means to
preserve it tender unto sin...
4. To "keep" the heart means to
look diligently after its cleansing.
SELF-WATCH! by F B Meyer
"Keep thy heart above all that thou
For out of it are the issues of life."--Pr. 4:23
SAID PETER to our Lord, "Spare
Thyself this death of which Thou speakest--this bitter suffering and
anguish shall never be Thine!"
These words are continually spoken still, and many are the voices that
bid us spare ourselves--the voices of our friends who love us; the
voices of prudence and worldly wisdom; the voices of our own wayward
Do not spare your judgment of yourself. Never permit yourself to do
things which you would be the first to condemn in others. Never
suppose that there are reasons for you to do a wrong, which, under no
circumstances would you tolerate in your neighbour.
Do not spare yourself in confessing your sins and mistakes. Confession
is one of the tests of nobility. Not a few are willing to confess to
God, who never attempt to confess to men. It is a serious question
whether that sorrow for sin is genuine and deep enough which does not
lead the offender to ask his fellow-man for pardon, even as he asks
his God. Nothing could be clearer than Christ's words, that whenever
we remember that our brother has aught against us, we are to leave our
gift at the altar, and go first to seek reconciliation with him,
before we offer our sacrifice to God.
The supreme test of goodness is not in the greater but in the smaller
incidents of our character and practice; not what we are when standing
in the searchlight of public scrutiny, but when we reach the firelight
flicker of our homes; not what we are when some clarion-call rings
through the air, summoning us to fight for life and liberty, but our
attitude when we are called to sentry-duty in the grey morning, when
the watch-fire is burning low. It is impossible to be our best at the
supreme moment if character is corroded and eaten into by dally
inconsistency, unfaithfulness, and besetting sin.
You cannot really help people without expending yourself. The only
work that tells must cost you something. Gold, silver, and precious
stones can never be built into the new Jerusalem unless you are
willing to part with them from the stores of your own life.
PRAYER - Most loving Father, may love fill and rule my heart. For then
there will spring up and be cherished between Thee and me a likeness
of character, and union of will, so that I may choose and refuse what
Thou dost. AMEN. (F. B. Meyer. Our Daily Walk)
F B Meyer - THE FORTRESS OF THE
"Keep thy heart with all
"The peace of God shall keep your hearts."--Phil. 4:7.
IN MOST of the old castles there is
an inner keep, which is protected, not only by mighty walls and
bastions, but by the portcullis at the gate, and sentries at every
approach, who challenged every one that passed in and out. So the
heart is continually approached by good and evil, by the frivolities
and vanities of the world and the insidious suggestions of the flesh.
It is like an inn or hostelry, with constant arrivals and departures.
Passengers throng in and out, some of them with evil intent, hoping to
find conspirators, or to light fires that will spread until the whole
being is swept with passion, consuming in an hour the fabric of years
We need, therefore, to be
constantly on the watch; we must keep our heart above all else that we
guard, for out of it are the issues of life (R.V. marg.). Our Lord
says that "out of the heart of man come forth evil thoughts, murders,
adulteries, thefts," etc. The devil and the world without would be
less to be feared, if there were not such strong tendencies to evil
within--many of them inherited from long lines of ancestors, who,
alas! pass down to us the worst features of their characters equally
with the best.
Keep it Clean. Just as the eye of
the body is perpetually washed with tear-water, so let us ask that the
precious blood of Christ may cleanse away any speck of impurity.
Remember how delicate a thing the heart is, and how susceptible to the
dust of an evil thought, which would instantly prevent it becoming the
organ of spiritual vision. Sursum Corda! Lift up your hearts! We lift
them up unto the Lord!
The Sentinel of Peace. Then the
Peace of God will become the warden or sentry of the heart, and it
passeth understanding! We can understand the apparent peace of some
men. They have made money, and their gold-bags are piled around them
as a fortress; they have rich and influential friends, within whose
protection they imagine they will be sheltered and defended; they
enjoy good health, and are held in high esteem. We can understand such
peace, though it often proves ephemeral! But there is a peace that
passeth understanding! It is to this that our Lord refers when He
says, "My Peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth." "Let not
your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."
PRAYER - Keep me, Heavenly Father, as the apple of Thine eye; defend
me by Thine Almighty power; hide me from this strife of tongues and
the fiery darts of the wicked one. May my heart be as the palace which
the Stronger than the strong man keeps in perfect peace. AMEN. (F. B.
Meyer. Our Daily Walk)
In his book
Back to Bethel (= plain text
PDF Version) F B
Meyer writes in his chapter entitled "The Rule of Our Thoughts"...
I have explained that you might
expect to be tempted to the end of your life, that the nearer you live
to God, the more you will be tempted. The presence of temptation in
your life is not a proof of deterioration, but the contrary, for the
more you know of God on the one hand the more you will know of Satan's
temptation, on the other hand.
If you desire to be kept from yielding to temptation, you must be very
careful of your thoughts, and it is about the necessity of guarding
your thoughts that I am going to speak now.
KEEP THY HEART CLEAN
First, let us look at Pr 4:23, where the wise man says: "Keep thy
heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life," or as
the revised version puts it: "Keep thy heart above all things that
You keep your wealth, you keep your home, you keep your health, you
keep your character, but above all these things keep your heart. Why?
Because out of it are the issues of life.
When Bunyan depicted the character of Ignorance, he made him say:
"I think my heart is as good as anybody's heart, and as for my
thoughts, I take no notice of them."
He shows at once that he does not know himself, and that he is exposed
to every temptation that crosses his path. If you have never before
noticed your thoughts you will find before I am done that the first
suggestion of wrong comes through the doorway of the mind.
Turn again to Pr 23:7, and read: "As a man thinketh in his heart,
so is he."
The thoughts lay down the tram lines upon which presently the tram car
makes its way. Just as the tram car will pass up and down the rails in
a great city, so does the act follow along the track of the thought.
I know there are men who say, "I must not do that act, but I may
indulge the thought of doing it." There are those who dare not act
impurely, but during the hours of darkness they allow their thoughts
to wander where they will, and such men and women think they have
escaped wrong; but let them understand that those thoughts are all
noted by God, and they will have to account for them at the day of
judgment. Let them also know that the thoughts they have entertained
in their hearts will find an issue, and there will be some act in
their life, perhaps ten years hence, as a result of these unholy
thoughts. Sometimes it seems rather terrible that a life should be
blasted by one act, and you may be disposed to pity the man and say
that it is hard for him to be judged and crippled for the rest of his
life by the passionate act of a single moment. But remember that an
act is never alone. It really sums up trains of unholy thought in
which the man has been indulging, and therefore you do not judge him
for the one act, but for the process of which it is the result. The
tree was eaten through before it crashed to the ground in the storm.
"Tiny Evils, Big Fall")
THE WICKEDNESS OF MAN -
The Word of God tells us, in Gen. 6:5: "God saw that the wickedness of
man was very great in the earth, and that every imagination of the
thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." Away back in the
days of Noah the trouble God had with man was in his thoughts; The
whole trend of the Bible is to get our thinking right.
As a contrast to that verse in Genesis, I quote Phil 4:8: "Whatsoever
things are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report, think
on these things."
Up to the doorway of your heart are always coming hundreds and
thousands of thoughts, and you must be careful to reject the evil ones
and let into your soul only those that are of good report. If these
are the tenants of the inner life, you need have no fear about your
character. I am prepared to say that if you think right, you need not
take much care about your life.
Butler in his Analogy says there are three steps in the formation of
character--act, habit, character. The act makes the habit, the habit
or the bundle of habits form the character. Thackeray amplified this
saying thus: "Sow a thought, reap an act; sow an act, reap a habit;
sow a habit, reap character; sow character, reap destiny."
I illustrated this not long ago to an audience of children by showing
a thread, and attached to it a piece of twine, then a rope, then a
chain, and padlock. I tied the thread around a boy, and he broke it
easily. But I gradually wound the twine and rope and chain about him
to show the power of habit. The thread was the thought leading to the
act, the rope was the habit, the chain was character, ending in the
padlock of destiny.
Our Lord announces the same truth in Mark 7:21: "For from within, out
of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts." Then He names some of the
sins--adultery, fornication, murder, thefts, covetousness. They all
begin in the evil thoughts. In Ep 2:3 we are told: "Among whom also
we all had our conversation in time past in the lusts of the flesh,
fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind." The Greek says
"the desires of the flesh and the thoughts." I want you to notice
that, "'fulfilling the desires of the flesh and the thoughts." Desire
is not in itself wrong. The affections and propensities of our nature
are not wrong in themselves. God gave these to us to pull along the
chariots of our lives. He put within us all manner of appetites and
propensities which are His own beautiful gifts. The wrong comes in two
ways: if we desire too much of the right thing, and if we desire
gratification in a wrong way. Whenever desire oversteps the bounds, or
seeks gratification in a wrong way, it becomes lust.
You cannot help the bad thoughts coming. As one of the Puritans said:
"You cannot help the birds flying over your head, but you can keep
them from building their nests in your hair." Some are part of us by
heredity. Then the papers and books we read, the pictures which are
exhibited in store windows and in art galleries, the conversations we
overhear,--all around us there are many things exciting and appealing
to us, and we are having unholy desires constantly presented to our
mind. But we must not fulfill them. We may have the temptations to
lust presented to us, but there is a vast difference between that and
having the lust gratified. The evil thought may come to your door and
knock, and you may keep your door locked. You sin when you open your
heart and let the thought in and gloat over it. Then desire becomes
In James 1:14, 15 we read: "Every man is tempted when he is drawn away
of his own lusts, and enticed. For when the lust hath conceived, it
bringeth forth sin, and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth
death." Let me illustrate by the use of botany. You know that flowers
have their sex, and the bees gathering honey in one flower carry the
pollen to another, and the result is flower and fruit. Precisely in
the same way the heart of man is always open, and bees of all kinds
seem to bring the pollen of unholy thoughts; when these are sown in
the desires of our nature, there is at once the result of which St.
James speaks. As soon as you allow the evil thought to mingle with
your nature, it bringeth forth the act of sin, and sin, when it is
finished, bringeth forth death.
I am not speaking now of the sinful state which we have inherited from
Adam, but of the act of sin. Lust, when it hath conceived, bringeth
forth this child of sin, and its grandchild, which is death. There you
have the parent, child and grandchild.
Now we may say that bad thoughts fly about like microbes. Our system
of surgery has been entirely transformed in Great Britain by the
recent discovery of the influence of microbes. We are now taught that
the air is filled with microbes. The surgeons always keep their
instruments in a solution of carbolic acid, so that when an instrument
makes an incision in the flesh it will not carry microbes with it.
This is to prevent suppuration, which is only the multiplication of
microbes in an open wound.
What microbes are to the body, bad thoughts are to the soul. As you
have to use antiseptics to check microbes, so you must live in the
Spirit, walk in the Spirit, who is the antiseptic to bad thoughts.
These thoughts come from Satan. "Lest Satan should get an advantage of
us; for we are not ignorant of his devices," (2Co 2:11). The Greek
is, "We are not ignorant of his thoughts." Satan is always starting
To use a simile that anybody can understand, the soul is like a castle
with a great gateway. Many people leave the gateway of their soul
open, so that every vagrant, truant evil thought may come pouring in
and do as it likes. At the gateway of your soul there are many
thoughts apparently innocent, but really great traitors. If you keep
your gateway unguarded, unsentinelled, these thoughts pour in and out,
backwards and forwards, and presently blow up your whole soul with
Therefore, in dealing with our thoughts, two things are necessary:
First, discernment; and second, keeping power.
We read in Is 28:5,6: "In that day shall the Lord of hosts be for
a spirit of judgment to him that sitteth in judgment, and for strength
to them that turn the battle to the gate." The Lord of hosts shall be
two things: first, a spirit of judgment, and secondly, strength. Are
not these what we need? (For the rest of this chapter see -
Back to Bethel by F B Meyer = plain
text version or download
Today in the Word
When Harry Truman became president,
House speaker Sam Rayburn took him aside and said, 'From here on out
you're going to have lots of people around you. They'll try to put a
wall around you and cut you off from any ideas but theirs. They'll
tell you what a great man you are, Harry. But you and I both know you
ain't.' Rayburn wasn't trying to insult Truman. He was simply warning
the new president to be on his guard. The Bible tells us to do the
same thing. We need to guard our hearts because the heart is the seat
of our affections, and therefore of our decisions.
This truth is one more nugget in
the gold mine of godly wisdom from the Proverbs. Our goal this month
is to learn more about how God wants us to live and to capitalize on
the resources He has provided to help us discover the path of life.
Proverbs 4 contains much wisdom for us.
Today's reading presents two very clear alternatives two paths that
lead to very different ends. God is eager to lead us along a path that
is straight, well-marked by His wisdom, and illuminated by His love.
When we walk along this path, with God's instruction Book in our hands
(Pr 4:13), we don't need to worry about stumbling. God is not in the
business of putting obstacles in our way.
In contrast, 'the path of the wicked' (Pr 4:14) is a sharp turn in the
road. Instead of being straight and well-lit, it is twisted and dark,
littered with the stones and potholes of sin.
Solomon could not have been any more plain. If we live according to
the standards of God's Word, we will end up in 'the full light of day'
(v. 18). But sin produces only darkness and eventual gloom. And no one
will be able to say that God did not make the two choices clear.
So how do we make sure we stay on the right path? Pr 4:20, 21, 22, 23,
24, 25, 26, 27 give us all the instruction we need. Solomon tells us
to keep a guard on what goes into our hearts and what comes out of our
At the same time, we need to keep our eyes straight ahead, fixed on
Jesus (Heb 12:2-note),
so that we can see where we're going. Anyone can follow a well-marked
path by paying attention to the signs.
We used to sing a children's chorus
that begins, 'O be careful little eyes what you see.' The song goes on
to urge that we guard what our ears hear, what our hands do, and where
our feet go. That's a pretty good spiritual checklist! We suggest you
follow the song's biblical advice today and do a head-to-foot checkup
on your Christian life.
It has become commonplace in the
last several years to acknowledge that proper diet and adequate
exercise are crucial elements of preventing heart disease. In fact, a
University of Pennsylvania study found that exercise worked like
certain prescription drugs in preventing heart disease. In our
culture, however, this welcome emphasis on physically healthy hearts
isn’t combined with concern for spiritually healthy hearts. So
consider today’s passage an ad for Spiritual Heart Check America!
We begin with the oft-repeated exhortation to pay attention to the
father’s words, to listen and focus on them. In short, if we’re
looking at God’s words, we won’t be focusing on others’ words. We see
once again the importance of treasuring up God’s Word, because His
words bring forth life and health. It’s been noticed that people who
are angry or unforgiving often experience increased physical ailments.
Verse 23 emphasizes this: the condition of our heart is to be
protected at all costs.
Jesus taught the same thing. When the Pharisees accused His disciples
of being unclean, Jesus replied, “What goes into a man’s mouth does
not make him 'unclean,’ but what comes out of his mouth, that is what
makes him 'unclean’ ” (Matt. 15:11). Thus today’s passages encourages
us to monitor what we take in, not allowing an unfiltered stream to
enter our hearts through TV, movies, magazines, and other media.
Speech often indicates the true condition of our heart. It’s
embarrassing to “slip” and to say something hurtful unintentionally,
but this often reveals our true feelings. That’s why it’s good to be
reminded that the condition of our hearts determines our words and
actions. If we’re embittered toward others, we will find it nearly
impossible to serve them and to look for their best. But if we have
been cultivating edifying thoughts about others, we’re much more
predisposed to love them through service and prayer.
Matthew Henry wrote
We must keep a watchful eye and a
strict hand upon all the motions of our inward man, Pr 4:23. Here is,
1. A great duty required by the
laws of wisdom, and in order to our getting and preserving wisdom:
Keep thy heart with all
diligence. God, who gave us these souls, gave us a strict charge
with them: Man, woman, keep thy heart; take heed to thy spirit, Dt
4:9. We must maintain a holy jealousy of ourselves, and set a strict
guard, accordingly, upon all the avenues of the soul; keep our hearts
from doing hurt and getting hurt, from being defiled by sin and
disturbed by trouble; keep them as our jewel, as our vineyard; keep a
conscience void of offence; keep out bad thoughts; keep up good
thoughts; keep the affections upon right objects and in due bounds.
Keep them with all keepings (so the word is); there are many ways of
keeping things—by care, by strength, by calling in help, and we must
use them all in keeping our hearts; and all little enough, so
deceitful are they, Jer. 17:9. Or above all keepings; we must keep our
hearts with more care and diligence than we keep any thing else. We
must keep our eyes (Job 31:1), keep our tongues (Ps. 34:13), keep our
feet (Eccl. 5:1), but, above all, keep our hearts.
2. A good reason given for this
care, because out of it are the issues of life.
Out of a heart well kept will flow
living issues, good products, to the glory of God and the edification
of others. Or, in general, all the actions of the life flow from the
heart, and therefore keeping that is making the tree good and healing
the springs. Our lives
will be regular or irregular, comfortable or uncomfortable, according
as our hearts are kept or neglected.
HEART IN THE
OT References on the Hebrew
noun leb = heart
- Gen. 6:5, 6; 8:21;
17:17; 18:5; 24:45; 27:41; 34:3; 42:28; 50:21; Ex 4:14, 21; 7:3, 13,
14, 22, 23; 8:15, 19, 32; 9:7, 12, 21, 34, 35; 10:1, 20, 27; 11:10;
14:4, 8, 17; 15:8; 25:2; 28:3, 29, 30; 31:6; 35:5, 10, 21, 22, 25, 26,
29, 34, 35; 36:1, 2, 8; Nu 16:28; 24:13; 32:7, 9; Deut. 4:11; 28:65;
29:4, 19; Jos. 11:20; 14:8; Jdg. 5:9, 15, 16; 16:15, 17, 18, 25;
18:20; 19:3, 5, 6, 22; Ruth 2:13; 3:7;
1Sa 1:13; 2:1; 4:13, 20; 6:6;
9:20; 10:9, 26; 17:32; 24:5; 25:25, 31, 36, 37; 27:1; 28:5; 2 Sam.
6:16; 7:21, 27; 13:20, 28, 33; 14:1; 15:6, 13; 17:10; 18:3, 14; 19:7,
19; 24:10; 1 Ki. 3:9, 12; 4:29; 8:23, 47, 66; 9:3; 10:24; 11:3; 12:26,
27, 33; 18:37; 21:7; 2 Ki. 5:26; 6:11; 9:24; 12:4; 14:10; 23:3; 1 Chr.
12:33, 38; 15:29; 16:10; 17:19; 28:9; 29:9; 2 Chr. 6:14, 38; 7:10, 11,
16; 9:23; 12:14; 17:6; 24:4; 25:19; 26:16; 30:12, 22; 32:25, 26;
Ezra 6:22; 7:27; Neh. 2:2, 12;
4:6; 6:8; 7:5; Esther 1:10; 5:9; 6:6; 7:5;
Job 1:8; 2:3; 7:17; 8:10; 11:13;
12:24; 15:12; 17:4; 23:16; 29:13; 31:7, 9, 27; 33:3; 34:14; 36:5, 13;
37:1, 24; 41:24;
Ps. 4:7; 7:9, 10; 9:1; 10:6, 11,
13, 17; 11:2; 12:2; 13:5; 14:1; 16:9; 17:3; 19:8, 14; 21:2; 22:14;
26:2; 27:3, 8, 14; 28:7; 31:12; 32:11; 33:11, 15, 21; 34:18; 35:25;
36:1, 10; 37:4, 15, 31; 38:8, 10; 39:3; 40:10, 12; 41:6; 44:18, 21;
45:1, 5; 46:2; 48:13; 49:3; 51:10, 17; 53:1; 55:4, 21; 57:7; 58:2;
61:2; 62:10; 64:6, 10; 66:18; 69:20; 74:8; 76:5; 78:8, 37; 81:12;
83:5; 84:2; 94:15; 97:11; 102:4; 105:3, 25; 107:12; 108:1; 109:22;
112:7, 8; 119:2, 10, 11, 32, 34, 36, 58, 69, 70, 80, 111, 112, 145,
161; 125:4; 131:1; 138:1; 140:2; 141:4; 143:4; 147:3;
Pr 2:2, 10; 3:1, 3, 5; 4:4, 23;
5:12; 6:14, 18, 21, 32; 7:3, 7, 10, 25; 8:5; 9:4, 16; 10:8, 13, 20,
21; 11:12, 20; 12:8, 11, 20, 23, 25; 13:12; 14:10, 13, 14, 30, 33;
15:7, 11, 13, 14,15, 21, 28, 30, 32; 16:1, 5, 9, 21, 23; 17:3, 16, 18,
20, 22; 18:2, 12, 15; 19:3, 8, 21; 20:5, 9; 21:1, 2, 4; 22:11, 15, 17;
23:7, 12, 15, 17, 19, 26, 33, 34; 24:2, 12, 17, 30, 32; 25:3, 20;
26:23, 25; 27:9, 11, 19, 23; 28:14, 26; 30:19; 31:11; Eccl. 1:13, 16,
17; 2:1, 3, 10, 15, 20, 23; 3:11, 17, 18; 5:2, 20; 7:2, 3, 4, 7, 21,
25, 26; 8:5, 9, 11, 16; 9:1, 3, 7; 10:2, 3; 11:9, 10;
Song 3:11; 5:2; 8:6
Isa 6:10; 15:5; 24:7; 29:13;
32:6; 33:18; 35:4; 38:3; 40:2; 42:25; 44:18, 19, 20; 46:8, 12; 47:7,
10; 51:7; 57:1, 11, 15, 17; 59:13; 61:1; 63:4, 17; 65:14, 17; 66:14;
Jer 3:10, 15, 16, 17; 4:9, 14,
18, 19; 5:21, 23; 7:24, 31; 8:18; 9:14, 26; 11:8, 20; 12:3, 11; 13:10;
14:14; 16:12; 17:1, 5, 9, 10; 18:12; 19:5; 20:9, 12; 22:17; 23:9, 16,
17, 20, 26; 24:7; 30:21, 24; 31:21, 33; 32:35, 39, 41; 44:21; 48:29,
36, 41; 49:16, 22; La 1:20, 22; 2:18, 19; 3:21, 33, 65; 5:15, 17;
Ezek. 2:4; 3:7; 6:9; 11:19, 21;
13:2, 17; 14:3, 4, 5, 7; 18:31; 20:16; 21:7, 15; 22:14; 27:4, 25, 26,
27; 28:2, 6, 8, 17; 32:9; 33:31; 36:26; 40:4; 44:5, 7, 9;
Dan. 1:8; 10:12; Hos. 2:14;
4:11; 7:6, 11, 14; 10:2; 11:8; 13:6, 8; Amos 2:16; Obad. 1:3; Nah.
2:10; Zeph. 3:14; Zech. 7:12; 10:7; 12:5; Mal. 2:2; 4:6
NT References on Greek noun
kardia = heart
- Matt. 5:8, 28; 6:21;
9:4; 11:29; 12:34, 40; 13:15, 19; 15:8, 18, 19; 18:35; 22:37; 24:48;
Mk. 2:6, 8; 3:5; 6:52; 7:6, 19, 21; 8:17; 11:23; 12:30, 33; Lk. 1:17,
51, 66; 2:19, 35, 51; 3:15; 5:22; 6:45; 8:12, 15; 9:47; 10:27; 12:34,
45; 16:15; 21:14, 34; 24:25, 32, 38; Jn. 12:40; 13:2; 14:1, 27; 16:6,
22; Acts 2:26, 37, 46; 4:32; 5:3, 4; 7:23, 39, 51, 54; 8:21, 22, 37;
11:23; 13:22; 14:17; 15:9; 16:14; 21:13; 28:27; Ro 1:21, 24; 2:5, 15,
29; 5:5; 6:17; 8:27; 9:2; 10:1, 6, 8, 9, 10; 16:18; 1 Co. 2:9; 4:5;
7:37; 14:25; 2 Co. 1:22; 2:4; 3:2, 3, 15; 4:6; 5:12; 6:11; 7:3; 8:16;
9:7; Gal. 4:6; Eph. 1:18; 3:17; 4:18; 5:19; 6:5, 22; Phil. 1:7; 4:7;
Col. 2:2; 3:15, 16, 22; 4:8; 1 Thess. 2:4, 17; 3:13; 2 Thess. 2:17;
3:5; 1 Tim. 1:5; 2 Tim. 2:22; Heb. 3:8, 10, 12, 15; 4:7, 12; 8:10;
10:16, 22; 13:9; Jas. 1:26; 3:14; 4:8; 5:5, 8; 1 Pet. 1:22; 3:4, 15; 2
Pet. 1:19; 2:14; 1 Jn. 3:19, 20, 21; Rev. 2:23; 17:17; 18:7
There’s an old gospel song that
How about your
is it right with God?
That’s the thing that counts today.
So how about your heart?
Many of us are concerned about heart disease—and rightly so– but what
about spiritual heart disease that is just as insidious? During a
heated battle one of Napoleon’s soldiers was shot just above a heart.
In those days surgery was done without anesthesia. While the doctor
was removing the bullet, the soldier declared, “One inch lower you
will find the emperor.”
What would we find if we opened your heart today? Would we find Jesus
Christ enshrined in your heart?
Blessings of Obedience - sermon by Dr. Ray Pritchard - June 1997)
What starts in the
ends up on the lips ("rotten speech" Ep 4:29-note,
"rotten attitudes" Ep 4:31-note).
What begins with bitterness ends with slander. We think, we feel, and
then we speak. What starts as a grievance becomes an outburst of wrath
that hardens into anger that expresses itself in clamor and ultimately
as slander. Malice marks such a person through and though. And it all
starts with personal hurt that becomes bitterness. Stop it at the
first and you won’t have to stop it at the last. That’s why Proverbs
4:23 reminds us to “guard your heart for it is the wellspring of
life.” We are doing Satan’s work when we climb that staircase. Every
step is a step for him. (Do
Not Grieve the Spirit - sermon by Dr. Ray Pritchard - June 2005)
Healthcare for the Heart
- If you're over 40 years old, your heart has already beat more than
1.5 billion times. I know that when my heart stops, it will be too
late to change my ways. So I've been trying to control my weight, get
exercise, and watch not only what I eat but also what's eating me.
This last point relates to another vital organ called "the heart"—our
spiritual heart. It too has throbbed millions of times with thoughts,
affections, and choices. In the heart we determine how we will speak,
behave, and respond to life's circumstances (Proverbs 4:23). Will we
trust the Lord and choose to be gracious, patient, and loving? Or will
we yield to pride, greed, and bitterness?
Today's Scripture reading emphasizes the importance of caring for our
heart. Are we keeping spiritually fit?
Weight: Do we need to lose
the weight of unnecessary burdens and cares?
Pulse: Are we maintaining a
steady rhythm of gratitude and praise?
Blood pressure: Is
our trust greater than our anxiety?
Diet: Are we enjoying the
life-giving nutrients of the Word of God?
Have you checked your heart
lately? — Mart De Haan
O Lord, You see
what's in the heart—
There's nothing hid from You;
So help us live the kind of life
That's filled with love for You. —D. De Haan
To keep spiritually fit, consult the Great Physician.
Spiritual Heart Care -
You're up at the crack of dawn, doing your exercises. You're not going
to let your heart get weak! You've trimmed the fat from your diet. You
get regular cholesterol checks. And you're exercising four times a
week to keep your cardiovascular system in peak condition.
But you've let your spiritual heart turn to mush. Preoccupied with the
temporary, you've neglected the eternal. You seldom read the Bible
anymore. Your prayers are lists of requests to God to make your life
more comfortable and pain-free. By the time you reach the church door
after the sermon, you can't recall what the pastor said because you
were thinking about something else.
If this describes you, it's time to get into a spiritual heart-care
program. It begins where David (a man after God's own heart Acts
13:22, 1Sa 13:44, 16:7) was in Psalm 139--by acknowledging that God
knows all about your heart. It continues in Psalm 51:10, "Create in me
a clean heart, O God." And it results in the prayer of Psalm 19:14,
"Let . . . the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O
Taking care of your body makes sense, but it makes even more sense to
gain spiritual fitness by walking with the Lord. That's an exercise
program with eternal value! — David C. Egner
Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by
permission. All rights reserved)
Dear Jesus, take
my heart and hand,
And grant me this, I pray:
That I through Your sweet love may grow
More like You day by day. --Garrison
To keep spiritually fit,
keep walking with the Lord.
The Secret Garden - The
Secret Garden, a novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett, tells the story of
Mary, a young girl who goes to live with her wealthy uncle Archibald
on his estate in England. Mary gets to know Dickon, a working-class
boy who loves nature. The two children discover a fenced-in garden
that Mary’s uncle has locked up because it reminds him of his deceased
wife. The garden looks dead because of neglect, but Dickon assures
Mary that, with proper tending, it will recover with new life. With
the children’s help, “the secret garden” eventually bursts forth with
colorful, fragrant blooms.
All of us have a secret garden of the heart. How we tend it will
determine what speech and behavior it produces. Proverbs wisely
admonishes us: “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it
spring the issues of life” (Pr 4:23). The word keep means “to watch or
guard with fidelity.” Guarding what we take into our hearts and
monitoring our response will determine what takes root there. As we
remove the thorns of resentment, weeds of lust, and roots of
bitterness, we can replace them with the fruit of the Spirit: “love,
joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
gentleness, self-control” (Gal. 5:22-note,
Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by
permission. All rights reserved)
Are you tending the garden of your heart? — Dennis Fisher
Think not alone
of outward form;
Its beauty will depart;
But cultivate the Spirit’s fruits
That grow within the heart. —D. De Haan
God wants you to water the seed He’s planted in your heart.
The Cost Of Neglect - I
read about a Detroit man who couldn't find his house. He had gone to
the right address but all he found was an empty lot. Completely
baffled, he asked the Detroit Free Press to help him figure out what
was going on. A newspaper reporter learned that not only was the house
gone, but the deed to the empty lot was in someone else's name.
What had happened? For one thing, a few years had passed since the
homeowner had left the city without providing a forwarding address. In
addition, he had failed to make arrangements for someone to keep the
property in repair. So the house was torn down because a city
ordinance called for the removal of neighborhood eyesores.
The homeowner's neglect illustrates the practical truth of Proverbs
24:30-34. Neglect leads to loss. This principle also applies to our
daily walk with God. If we neglect our times of prayer and fellowship
with the Lord, our relationship with Him will deteriorate and we will
no longer experience His favor. We would never want that to happen,
but we allow it when we become preoccupied with anything that comes
between us and Christ.
We need to establish priorities that honor God. Then we'll avoid the
loss that comes from neglect. — Mart De Haan
Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by
permission. All rights reserved)
occupied with Jesus
And seek to do His will each day,
We're sure to know the loss and sorrow
That comes when we neglect His way. —Anon.
If you shirk today's tasks, you increase tomorrow's burdens.
Hostile Heart - Beware
the hostile heart. That's the warning of Dr. Redford Williams from
Duke University's Behavioral Medicine Research Center. He has been
saying for years that having a hostile personality can kill us--most
often by heart disease but also by injuries and accidents. Anger
speeds the heart rate, raises blood pressure, and disrupts the
Some indicators of a hostile heart are impatience with delays,
mistrust of co-workers, annoyance with the habits of family members or
friends, and a persistent need to have the last word in arguments or
to get even when wronged.
In Proverbs 4, a wise father urged his son to listen closely to his
words. He said, "They are life to those who find them, and health to
all their flesh. Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it
spring the issues of life" (Pr 4:22, 23).
Our wise heavenly Father issues the same call to us about His
life-giving words recorded for us in the Bible. The transformation of
a hostile heart begins as we listen to God, meditate on His Word, and
allow Him to alter our behavior and speech. It's a prescription I need
to follow today. How about you? — David C. McCasland
Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by
permission. All rights reserved)
I want my heart
to be in tune with God,
In every stage of life may it ring true;
I want my thoughts and words to honor Him,
To lift Him up in everything I do. --Hess
Let God's Word fill your mind,
rule your heart, and guide your tongue.
WITH ALL DILIGENCE:
(Pr 4:7; 3:21; 11:16; 13:3; Eccl 5:13)
John MacArthur writes
If we took care of our spiritual
hearts the way we take care of our physical hearts, it would be
amazing, wouldn’t it? People are going crazy over protecting their
hearts. There are joggers everywhere. People riding bicycles. Up and
down hills. Got to take care of that heart! (MacArthur, J. The Only
Way to Happiness : The Beatitudes. Chicago: Moody Press. 1998)
Speaker's Bible Commentary
(1873) says that with all diligence is...
"Above all keeping (i.e., with more
vigilance that men use over aught else). Keep thy heart. The words
that follow carry on the same similitude. The fountains and wells of
the East were watched over with special care. A stone was rolled to
the mouth of the well, so that "a spring shut up, a fountain sealed"
(Song 4:12KJV), became the type of all that is most jealously guarded.
So it is here. The heart is such a fountain, out of it flow the
"issues" of life. Shall we let those streams be tainted at the
(kol) means the whole of something.
(mismaat) literally means a guarding as in the state of
confining a prisoner (eg, Neh 4:9, 22). The basic idea of the
root verb (shamar) is to exercise great care over.
remains fairly true to the original meaning of this Hebrew word...
Keep thy heart more than anything
that is guarded (mismaat)
The ESV and NET
use the word vigilance in place of diligence. More
literally this reads "above all guarding" and thus several
other translations attempt to convey this idea with the phrase "above
all else" or "more than anything".
Solomon's point is that the
guarding of one's heart will not be an easy task. Neither is it to be
a passive letting go and letting God, but instead it calls for
persistent effort and perseverance. The implication is that this
guarding will entail a struggle. Why? Because our old nature (which
remains even in those who have been born again) still indwells our
mortal bodies and manifests "heart trouble" (cp Je 17:9, Ge 8:21, Eccl
9:3), despite the fact that we have been given a new heart (2Co 5:17,
Ezek 11:19, 20, 18:31, 36:26, 27).
Wiersbe observes that "Diligent hands are directed by a
diligent heart, and this means the discipline of the inner person.
“Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it springs the issues
of life” (Pr 4:23, NKJV). When we cultivate the inner person through
prayer (Ed: cp Mt 26:41), meditation on the Word (Ed: Ps
1:1, 2, 3 -notes;
and submission to the Lord (Ed: Jn 14:21), then we can
experience the joys of a disciplined and diligent life. “The fruit of
the Spirit is...self-control” (Gal 5:22, 23-notes).
(Wiersbe, W. W. Be Skillful. An Old Testament Study. Wheaton, Ill.:
If we would "keep" our hearts
"with all diligence", we wouldn't be careless, for example, about what
gets into our hearts through the "eye-gate". We'd "censor" our own
television viewing out of a greater concern to "watch" our own heart.
And we'd even be willing to get rid of our television if it's
affecting us negatively. We would rid our homes of any visual images
or literature that incline us toward sexual immorality or sin of any
We'd not only guard what might come in; but also what might come out.
We would keep our own attitudes in check, so that the words that come
out of our mouths aren't reflective of evil in our heart. We'll be
like David, when he prayed (Psalm 141:3).
John Angell James (1853)
in his chapter entitled "The Means of Christian Progress" wrote
Great attention to
self-cultivation, spiritually considered, is a means of growth. By
this I mean what is expressed in one or two passages of Scripture;
such, for instance, as the exhortation, "Keep your heart with all
diligence, for out of it are the issues of life." Pr. 4:23. It is
the heart, the great vital spring of the soul—the fountain of
actions—the center of principle—the seat of motives; the heart, where
are the thoughts and feelings out of which conduct comes. It is this
that must be the first, chief, constant object of solicitude to the
Christian. It is this which God sees—and as God sees it, and because
God principally looks at it—that must be ever uppermost in our
concern. To keep the heart must mean exerting ourselves with great
earnestness, in dependence upon Divine grace, to preserve it in a good
state; laboring to preserve its vitality, vigor, and purity. We must
often ask the question, "In what state is my heart? Are my thoughts
and affections in a good spiritual condition?"
The heart is, in another view of
it, the citadel of the soul—if this be neglected, the enemy at the
gates will soon be in and take possession. Set a watch, therefore,
upon the heart. Let the sentinel be never off duty, nor sleeping at
his post. Keep out evil thoughts, and unholy affections, and vile
imaginations. Without great vigilance they will elude observation. As
soon as an enemy of this kind is detected, he must be seized and made
captive, until every thought is brought into subjection to Christ. As
the state of the heart is, so is the man in reality, and before God.
Discipline the heart then. (John Angell James. Christian Progress)
Martyn Lloyd-Jones wrote
The heart really does control
everything; and the ‘heart’ here (Pr 4:23) means the centre of the
personality, not merely the seat of the emotions. Put that right and
everything else will be right. Our Lord stated the matter negatively
when He said that it is not that which goes into a man which pollutes
the man but rather that which comes out of him. It is ‘out of the
heart that come evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders’, and
all such things (Mark 7:20, 21, 22, 23). In other words, in the last
analysis it is not the temptations that meet us on the streets that
determine our conduct; it is the heart of the man who faces them.
Two men may face the same
conditions; one falls, the other stands.
The difference is not in the temptation but in the heart of the man.
‘Out of the heart …’! So we must
pay attention to the heart. (Lloyd-Jones, D. M. The Unsearchable
Riches of Christ -- studies in Ephesians, chapter 3. Grand Rapids:
Baker Book House)
The new birth creates a new appetite and requires a new diet.
O child of God,
guard well your eyes
From anything that stains the heart;
Forsake those things that soil the mind--
Your Father wants you set apart. --Fasick
FOR FROM IT FLOW THE SPRINGS
OF LIFE (Mt 12:35, 15:18,19)
What you do with
determines what you do with your life
(Wiersbe, W. W.
With the Word Bible Commentary. Nashville: Thomas Nelson)
For - Here the
conjunction introduces the explanation or reason for the importance of
guarding our hearts.
From it - From our heart
(mind, will, emotion), our "master control". Solomon's point is that what occupies our minds
and determines what and how we think, will work its way out in how we
behave and what we say and do (see the schematic above notes).
What is in the heart eventually comes out in the life.
Solomon has a similar
thought in Ecclesiastes 10...
A wise man's heart directs him
toward the right, but the foolish man's heart directs him toward the
left. (Eccl 10:1)
Jesus emphasized the
importance of diligently guarding the heart for it is intimately
related to our behavior (in thought, word, deed - good or bad)
You brood of vipers, how can
you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that
which fills the heart. The good man brings out of his good
treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil
treasure what is evil. (Mt 12:34, 35)
The upright (honorable,
intrinsically good) man out of the good treasure [stored] in his heart
produces what is upright (honorable and intrinsically good), and the
evil man out of the evil storehouse brings forth that which is
depraved (wicked and intrinsically evil); for out of the abundance
(overflow) of the heart his mouth speaks. (Luke 6:45) (Amplified)
A good person produces good deeds
from a good heart, and an evil person produces evil deeds from an evil
heart. Whatever is in your heart determines what you say.
(Luke 6:45) (NLT)
A good man produces good things
from the good stored up in his
and a bad man produce evil things from his own stores of evil. For a
man's words will always express what has been treasured in his heart.
(Luke 6:45) (Phillips)
Comment: In short a guarded
heart should result in guarded lips.
If you effectively protect your
car from theft, your home from burglary, your property from damage,
your financial interests from failure, and your body from personal
illness and injury, and even our borders from terrorist attacks - and
yet fail in protecting your heart, this one failure will effect every other area of
your life. The thought is that a person’s life is somehow determined
by or affected by the thoughts stored in one's heart. In other words,
“Everything we do comes out of our heart.”
The Dictionary of Biblical
Imagery writes that...
water is a precious resource in the
Middle East, and much of what is available comes from natural springs
or fountains. Springs in the Bible have associations similar to
those of rivers and water, but a spring is even more evocative, being
upsurging, “living” water that becomes synonymous with the sustaining
and refreshment of life. As a perpetual and continuous flow of water,
a spring embodies a principle of natural provision that is abundant
and irrepressible. Springs in the Bible are almost uniformly positive
in association, and the number of references is approximately fifty
(since wells are frequently located at the sites of springs, some
English translations have fewer references to spring in deference to
well). In many of the passages (cp Dt 8:7, Josh 15:19, Jdg 1:15, Ps
104:10, Ps 107:35, Is 35:7, 41:18, 49:10 Re 7:17)...God is clearly the
One who has power to produce and dry up springs of water. The imagery
of springs of water is integral to Holy Land geography and climate.
Because external moisture supplies are precarious, underground sources
of water are especially valued.
(towtsa'ah, totsa'ah, tosaa, tosaah or tosa'ot
from the root verb yasa = to cause to go out, bring out, lead
out) means a border, extremity or end point. The Semantic Domains says
that it means a...
starting point, source, wellspring,
i.e., the source of an event or activity from the figurative extension
of the beginning limit of a space.
Gesenius writes that this
the place from which (any person or
thing) goes forth, hence a gate, Ezek 48:30; a fountain, Pr 4:23, "the
fountain of life", of happiness.
Life is the ability to
exercise all one's vital power to the fullest. Death is the opposite.
The Hebrews viewed man holistically, i.e., body, mind, and spirit were
a unified whole. Life was associated with health, prosperity,
vitality, etc., while death was the very opposite.
This verse relates to something
D L Moody once said...
If I take care of my character, my
reputation will take care of itself.
UBS Handbook on Proverbs
flow the springs usually
refers to the extremity or border of a geographical territory, but in
association with life it seems to have the sense of a source or place
of origin. The thought is that a person’s life is somehow determined
by the thoughts stored in the heart or mind: “Everything you do comes
out of your heart.” CEV says “Carefully guard your thoughts because
they are the source of true life.” TEV translates this verse into very
direct language and may serve as a model for translation (Be
careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts.).
W. D., & Fry, E. M. A handbook on Proverbs. The United Bible
Societies' New Testament Handbook Series )
the heart is just the reservoir of
man, and our life is allowed to flow in its proper season. That life
may flow through different pipes—the mouth, the hand, the eye; but
still all the issues of hand, of eye, of lip, derive their source from
the great fountain and central reservoir, the heart; and hence there
is no difficulty in showing the great necessity that exists for
keeping this reservoir, the heart, in a proper state and condition,
since otherwise that which flows through the pipes must be tainted and
corrupt. May the Holy Spirit now direct our meditations.
D Paul Montague has an
interesting paraphrase of flow the springs of life...
Be careful how you think, because
your thinking results in actions that have either a positive or
negative affect upon your territory (sphere of influence).
D A Carson writes that...
The inner person has to be right,
because that is the source of all else; but outward behaviour is not
just left to work itself out from that. We also have to pay attention
to speaking straight (Pr 4:24), looking straight (Pr 4:25), and
walking straight (Pr 4:26). (New Bible Commentary)
The KJV Bible Commentary
The heart is the control center for
all of life, and the tongue is controlled by the heart (Lk 6:45). A
froward mouth reveals a heart filled with pride. Lips that are filled
with scorn and arrogance have their roots in a scorner’s heart. The
issues of life reveal the contents of the heart. Solomon exhorts all
to keep the commandments of Yahweh in the midst of the heart and to
carefully keep the eyes and feet centered in the ways of the Lord
without deviation. The concern of the wise man for the holiness of the
whole person is evidenced in these verses.
E G, Charles Feinberg, E Hindson, Woodrow Kroll, H L. Wilmington: KJV
Bible Commentary: Nelson )
A person's moral attitudes and
resultant actions in their life are intimately connected with and
influenced by the condition of one’s heart or mind (cf. Mt. 12:34, 35;
Lk 6:45). Check your
attitudes and actions this past week and you have a good sense of the
spiritual condition of your heart!
Warren Wiersbe comments
on springs of life noting that...
If we pollute that wellspring, the
infection will spread; before long, hidden appetites will become open
sins and public shame. The Bible warns us to avoid a double heart (Ps
12:2), a hard heart (Pr 28:14), a proud heart (Pr 21:4), an
unbelieving heart (Heb 3:12-note), a cold heart (Mt 24:12), and an unclean
heart (Ps 51:10). “Search me, O God, and know my heart” (Ps 139:23,
Wise people are careful about what
they read, what they hear and see, and what they talk about in daily
conversation. They’re diligent to keep trash out of their minds and
hearts, because “garbage in” ultimately means “garbage out” (Pr 4:23).
For this reason, they carefully control the radio and television and
they are selective in their reading....
God’s truth should also control the
neck, because a man might be tempted to turn his head and look at a
beautiful woman for the purpose of lusting (Mt. 5:27, 28, 29, 30-note). He
may not be able to avoid seeing the woman the first time, but it’s
looking the second time that gets him into trouble. (Wiersbe, W. W. Be
Skillful. An Old Testament Study. Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books)
The Pulpit Commentary
The fact here stated is that the
moral conduct of life, its actions and proceedings, are determined by
the condition of the heart. If the heart is pure, the life will be
pure; if the heart is corrupt, the life will be corrupt. The heart is
here compared with a fountain. The same idea which is affixed to it in
its physical sense is also assigned to it in its ethical or moral
sense. Physically, it is the central organ of the body; morally, it is
the seat of the affections and the centre of the moral consciousness.
From this moral centre flow forth “the issues of life;” i.e. the
currents of the moral life take their rise in and flow forth from it,
just as from the heart, physically considered, the blood is propelled
and flows forth into the arterial system, by which it is conveyed to
the remotest extremities of the body. And as the bodily health depends
on the healthy action of the heart, so the moral health depends on and
is influenced by the state in which this spring of all action is
preserved. Issues;from yâtsār, “to go forth,” are the place from which
anything goes forth, and hence a fountain...With this passage compare
our Lord’s teaching (Mt 15:19; Mark 7:21, 22, 23; Luke 6:43, 44, 45).
(The Pulpit Commentary: Proverbs. H. D. M. Spence-Jones, Ed)
Garrett writes that the
is “the wellspring of life” in
that the capacity to live with joy and vigor ultimately comes from
within and not from circumstances. The corrupt heart draws one down to
the grave, but Wisdom protects the heart from that corruption. This
verse, perhaps in conjunction with Ezekiel’s vision of the River of
Life (Ezek 47:1-12), apparently was the source of Jesus’ perplexing
citation in John 7:38. (Garrett, D. A. Vol. 14: Proverbs,
Ecclesiastes, Song of songs The New American Commentary. Nashville:
Broadman & Holman Publishers)
Adam Clarke commenting on
from it flow the springs of life (For out of it are the issues
of life) writes that it literally speaks of...
"the goings out of lives." Is not
this a plain allusion to the arteries which carry the blood from the
heart through the whole body, and to the utmost extremities? As long
as the heart is capable of receiving and propelling the blood, so long
life is continued. Now as the heart is the fountain whence all the
streams of life proceed, care must be taken that the fountain be not
stopped up nor injured. A double watch for its safety must be kept up.
So in spiritual things: the heart is the seat of the Lord of life and
glory; and the streams of spiritual life proceed from Him to all the
powers and faculties of the soul. Watch with all diligence, that this
fountain be not sealed up, nor these streams of life be cut off.
Therefore "put away from thee a froward mouth and perverse lips-and
let thy eyes look straight on." (Pr 4:24) Or, in other words,
look inward—look onward—look
I know that the twenty-third verse
is understood as principally referring to the evils which proceed from
the heart, and which must be guarded against; and the good purposes
that must be formed in it, from which life takes its coloring. The
former should be opposed; the latter should be encouraged and
strengthened. If the heart be pure and holy, all its purposes will be
just and good. If it be impure and defiled, nothing will proceed from
it but abomination. But though all this be true, I have preferred
following what I believe to be the metaphor in the text.
Roehrs writes that...
As water gushes from an underground
spring, wise action originates in inner convictions and drives. Unless
one loves the Lord with all one’s heart, the potential for evil is not
eliminated at its source. (Dt 6:5, 6.; Ps 119:2, 10; Mt 12:34; Mk
7:21; Lk 6:45)
John Flavel very wisely observed that,
The greatest difficulty in
conversion is to win the heart to God; and the greatest difficulty
after conversion is to keep the heart with God.
Issues of life are out of
Tries -1 Chronicles 29:17; Jeremiah 12:3
Knows -Psalms 44:21; Jeremiah 20:12
Searched -1 Chronicles 28:9; Jeremiah 17:10
Understands the thoughts of -1 Chronicles 28:9; Psalms 139:2
Ponders -Proverbs 21:2; 24:12
Influences -1 Samuel 10:26; Ezra 6:22; 7:27; Proverbs 21:1; Jeremiah
Creates a new -Psalms 51:10; Ezekiel 36:26
Prepares -1 Chronicles 29:18; Proverbs 16:1
Opens -Acts 16:14
Enlightens -2 Corinthians 4:6; Ephesians 1:18
Strengthens -Psalms 27:14
Establishes -Psalms 112:8; 1 Thessalonians 3:13
Prepared to God -1 Samuel 7:3
Given to God -Proverbs 23:26
Perfect with God -1 Kings 8:61
Applied to wisdom -Psalms 90:12; Proverbs 2:2
Guided in the right -Proverbs 23:19
Purified -James 4:8
Single -Ephesians 6:5; Colossians 3:22
Tender -Ephesians 4:32
Kept with diligence -Proverbs 4:23
Believe with -Acts 8:37; Romans 10:10
Serve God with all -Deuteronomy 11:13
Keep God’s statutes with all -Deuteronomy 26:16
Walk before God with all -1 Kings 2:4
Trust in God with all -Proverbs 3:5
Love God with all -Matthew 22:37
Return to God with all -Deuteronomy 30:2
Do the will of God from -Ephesians 6:6
Sanctify God in -1 Peter 3:15
Love one another with a pure -1 Peter 1:22
No man can cleanse -Proverbs 20:9
Faith, the means of purifying -Acts 15:9
Renewal of, promised under the gospel -Ezekiel 11:19; 36:26; Hebrews
When broken and contrite, not despised by God -Psalms 51:17
The pure in, shall see God -Matthew 5:8
PRAY THAT IT MAY BE
Cleansed -Psalms 51:10
Inclined to God’s testimonies -Psalms 119:36
United to fear God -Psalms 86:11
Directed into the love of God -2 Thessalonians 3:5
Harden not, against God -Psalms 95:8; Hebrews 4:7
Harden not against the poor -Deuteronomy 15:7
Regard not iniquity in -Psalms 66:18
Take heed lest it to be deceived -Deuteronomy 11:16
Know the plague of -1 Kings 8:38
He that trusts in, is a fool -Proverbs 28:26