Keep vigilant watch over your heart; THAT’S where LIFE starts.

I used to be annoyed with proverbs, because they seemed too much like “rules” to me.  However, recently, they are one of the books I read most.  I especially enjoy reading them in the Message version of the Bible.(I know…blasphemy ;))

Something unique about Proverbs is that I feel like even a non-christian could read them and find them helpful and applicable in their life.  Maybe that’s not true, who knows.  I just see the practical wisdom in them being so relevant for all people.

Anyways, I want to share what I read in Proverbs today that really hit home for my life personally…in a painful, but beautiful way.  I don’t really feel like expanding on it, so will just let the verses speak for themselves.  I’d love to hear what you think or what stands out to you if you feel so inclined to share.  I’m going to share from the message version, but encourage you to look it up in others, too.  For me, this version is perhaps more emotional and artistic, which speaks to my heart.  :)

Proverbs 4:20-27  The Message (MSG)

Learn It by Heart

20-22 Dear friend, listen well to my words;
    tune your ears to my voice.
Keep my message in plain view at all times.
    Concentrate! Learn it by heart!
Those who discover these words live, really live;
    body and soul, they’re bursting with health.

23-27 Keep vigilant watch over your heart;
    that’s where life starts.
Don’t talk out of both sides of your mouth;
    avoid careless banter, white lies, and gossip.
Keep your eyes straight ahead;
    ignore all sideshow distractions.
Watch your step,
    and the road will stretch out smooth before you.
Look neither right nor left;
    leave evil in the dust.



4 thoughts on “Keep vigilant watch over your heart; THAT’S where LIFE starts.”

  1. Blasphemy, yes ;). Thank James for King James :D. But, all that aside . . .

    These series of verses are about walking the path or righteousness.

    Prov 4:20
    20 My son, attend to my words; incline your ear unto my sayings.

    Solomon starts with ‘my son’. I.e. he is instructing us as a father instructs a son: with love.

    ‘My words’ in Hebrew is dabar (דבר) which is word/ thing. So it is more than simply words but action that have physically manifested themselves.

    ‘Incline your ear’ is like an idiom. Think of how attentive you become when you start to overhear some gossip. You find it hard to concentrate on what you are actually doing because you are so focus on what you are hearing. And it’s not even necessarily because you want to hear it.

    Prov 4:21-22
    21 Let them not depart from your eyes; keep them in the midst of your heart.
    22 For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh.

    ‘Let them not depart from your eyes’. In other words, they should always be before you. Not necessarily your physical eyes, but your mind. In Hebrew eye (ayn – עין – ע) is a referent to a person’s two physical eyes and their third eye which is their mind. So what Solomon is really saying is ‘think about them all the time’. And this is tied to Matt 6:22-23, Joshua 1:8, and Ps 1:2.

    ‘Keep them in the midst of your heart’. What was in the midst of the Garden? The Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Solomon is referring back to agriculture again. Specifically, he is talking about protecting (keep) the Tree of Life. Verse 22 is the result. Doing so will produce life and health just as the Tree of Life (Gen 3:22, Rev 22:2).

    We can also draw from this that our heart is a garden where trees grow and produce fruit. Remember when I talked about sin and temptation? This is one place that helped me understand these things.

    Solomon is also referencing back to what Moses said in Torah at the conclusion of Israel’s wandering in the wilderness.

    Deut 30:10-20
    10 If you will listen to and obey the voice of the LORD your God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which are written in this book of the law, and if you turn unto the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul.
    11 For this commandment which I command you this day, it is not hidden from you, neither is it far off.
    12 It is not in heaven, that you should say, Who will go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?
    13 Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?
    14 But the word is very close to you, in your mouth, and in your heart, that you may do it.
    15 See, I have set before you this day life and good, and death and evil;
    16 In that I command you this day to love the LORD your God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that you may live and multiply: and the LORD your God will bless you in the land where you go to possess it.
    17 But if your heart turn away, so that you will not hear, but will be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them;
    18 I denounce unto you this day, that you will surely perish, and that you will not prolong your days upon the land, where you cross over Jordan to go to possess it.
    19 I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both you and your seed may live:
    20 That you may love the LORD your God, and that you may obey his voice, and that you may cleave unto him: for he is your life, and the length of your days: that you may dwell in the land which the LORD sware unto your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.

    Prov 4:23
    23 Keep your heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.

    This is another way of saying verses 21 and 23 but it gives us another perspective (4D Bible).

    ‘Diligence’ is netsar (נצר) in Hebrew which means ‘offshoot’, a reference to agriculture again (and why Jesus was referred to as a netsareen (Matt 2:23)). It is also known as grafting where a person takes a part of the parent tree and grows it into a new tree. You could say that Solomon is telling us to not only guard our heart but everything that comes out of it because it will grow into a new tree.

    ‘Out of it flow the issues of life’ is an explanation of why we must guard our heart and gives context to ‘diligence’. This is where words come in and what happens when we speak. If we speak life, we are actually planting trees of life in the garden/ heart of the people who hear us. Else we are planting other trees which produce other fruit.

    Prov 4:24
    24 Put away from yourself a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from you.

    Now, we need a dictionary for this.

    Froward: Saying one thing while meaning another, perverse.

    Perverse: Lezooth (לזות) – to depart.

    Okay, a ‘forward mouth’ means one person is trying to deceive another with their words. Hitler was the master of this. And the ‘perverse lips’ (poor translation) is saying that these words are meant to turn you away from the path. What path?

    Prov 4:25
    25 Let your eyes look right on, and let your eyelids look straight before you.

    Generally speaking, where our eyes look, there we will go. If we want to walk this path of life, we must direct our eyes and our mind down the path of life. Should we look to the right or left, there is a good possibility we’ll go in the ditch and get stuck in a rut. Solomon is referring back to Deut again when he says this:

    Deut 5:31-33
    31 But as for you, you stand here by me, and I will speak unto you all the commandments, and the statutes, and the judgments, which you will teach them, that they may do them in the land which I give them to possess it.
    32 You will observe to do therefore as the LORD your God hath commanded you: you will not turn aside to the right hand or to the left.
    33 You will walk in all the ways which the LORD your God hath commanded you, that you may live, and that it may be well with you, and that you may prolong your days in the land which you shall possess.

    Prov 4:26
    26 Ponder the path of your feet, and let all your ways be established.

    ‘Ponder the path of your feet’. Our feet take us where we want to go. If we are ‘pondering’ (Solomon is taking us back to verses 20 – 23), we are directing our mind’s eye which our feet will follow.

    ‘Let all your ways be established’. How are we established? By our faith. Faith, if you recall, is built on a firm foundation which is truth. And this firm foundation is the Rock, aben (אבן) or the Father and the Son united (Deut 6:5, Luke 20:17-18 (Ps 118:22), John 10:30). Our ‘ways’ (derek (דרך) – road or walk), if it is on the ‘path’ Solomon is describing, will ultimately lead to God. But remember, the path may lead us home, but its relationship that invites us in.

    Prov 4:27
    27 Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove your foot from evil.

    The ditches on both sides of the path are ‘evil’. I.e. They destroy what God has made for a purpose. In this instance, it is the person that departs from the path. What Solomon is basically saying is, “Get out of the ditch!” as a loving father who is in panic because he sees that his child is in imminent danger.

    So what is the path? This path is the emphasis of what Solomon is talking about here. How we walk this path is summed up in the word ‘righteousness’ (Remember, righteousness by definition means to walk a straight path). Plainly stated this path is the statues, commandments, and ordinances of God. I.e. the instructions for life. They were given to us as a loving father instructing his children so that we might live and be in good health and be prosperous in whatever we set our hand to do. When we go in the ditch and bad things happen to us, God is desperately calling to us to get out of the ditch, stop going in there (remember, Jesus often said, “Sin no more” after he healed people). Yet we have a tendency to blame Him when it’s our own fault because we refuse to obey Him. We expect Him to come over, pick us up and put us back on the path. And He will should we cry out to Him (repentance). But all too often we say, “I’ll do it!” and stay stuck in a rut continuing to live and think and do things our way.

    See what you’re missing in the Message?? ;)

  2. HA. :p It’s ok…I’ll still read the message. It’s not all I read if you were concerned. ;) I look forward to reading through your response. Thanks, Joshua. And yes…totally blog it. You’re welcome for the inspiration. :)

  3. wow. That was a lot to chew on and SO good for my soul. Thanks Joshua. I wouldn’t have gotten half of that…even had I read the NKJ version myself. AWESOME.

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