“Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.”
What incredible words of exhortation these are, found in Proverbs 4:23 the writer exhorts the reader to act as sentinel and watchman over the heart.
This has become a theme around the Larson household for the last year; to keep a right heart before God, one which is pliable and loving, one which treasures the wisdom of God.
The reason we are to guard our hearts becomes clear as we reflect upon verses 20-22:
“My son, give attention to my words; Incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your sight; Keep them in the midst of your heart. For they are life to those who find them And health to all their body.”
To the obedient heart, the father has imparted his sayings, his wisdom; this is the common theme of this proverb – instruction, teachings, commandments, wisdom, and understanding. The father is saying to place these in the vault of the heart, and then guard them. In so doing one will reap life.
The understanding of the heart in the ancient world was a much different concept than the heart through western eyes. The heart was the seat of man, it encompassed the spirit, the soul, the mind, and yes, the emotions as well. “Keep them in the midst of your heart” is an exhortation to place the wisdom of God in the very vault of our beings. Once we place it there, we are to act as vigilant watchmen to protect it.
Why would we need to do that? Because we live in a very adversarial world, where our toxic culture, and the difficulties of our world compress upon us. If we are not diligent, protecting our hearts with fervor, they may become hardened, insensitive to the heart of God.
So, how do we accomplish that daunting task of guarding our hearts? Verses 24-27 answer that.
“Put away from you a deceitful mouth And put devious speech far from you. Let your eyes look directly ahead And let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you. Watch the path of your feet, And all your ways will be established. Do not turn to the right nor to the left; Turn your foot from evil.”
Guard your mouth. Guard your eyes. Guard your feet. Guard your path.
Guard what you say (and what is being said around you). Guard what you look at. Guard where you go.
Do not get lured off the straight and narrow path.
The springs of life are good! Guard your heart!
Yes, it has been the theme in our lives this past year, and you can bet it will continue to be a major theme around the Larson household in the year to come.
[The Shepherd’s Echo is a previously published TheShepherdsPen]