I was pondering a verse from Proverbs 4:23. The verse simply says this:
Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. (Prov 4:23)
However, I would not have had to ponder so much if I had not taken the verse out of its context. It is a lot easier to understand when reading the verse in context. The entire chapter is about the heart and how to keep it.
We are admonished to let the Father’s words be retained in our hearts, to keep His commandments, and live, in Proverbs 4:4
Now starting at verse 4:20 – 27:
My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh. Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee. Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee. Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.
Notice how the first thing you must do is to hear. Incline thine heart unto my sayings. The second thing has to do with seeing. Let them not depart from thine eyes. The third thing is to keep them in your heart. The sayings of God are what keep the heart. Right in the middle of these verses is the big one,
“Keep thine heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.”
Next is one of the most key verses to keeping your heart. In verse 24 we are instructed, “put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips.” There are many places just in the book of Proverbs alone that talk about the importance of the things we say.
Here are some examples:
- The words of a man’s mouth are as deep waters, and the wellspring of wisdom as a flowing brook. (prov 18:4)
- A fool’s lips enter into contention, and his mouth calleth for strokes. (prov 18:6)
- A fool’s mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul. (prov 18:7)
- The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly. (prov 18:8)
- A man’s belly shall be satisfied with the fruit of his mouth; and with the increase of his lips shall he be filled. (prov 18:20)
- Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof. (prov 18:21)
Take notice of verse 8, how the words of a talebearer are as wounds and go down into the innermost parts of the belly. I believe this is speaking of the heart. Not only the words of a talebearer but, even our own word, words we speak about ourselves get into the innermost parts of our being.
It’s no wonder that the writer of proverbs in the 4th chapter tells us to keep our hearts with all diligence. The NIV translation says ” above all guard your heart.”
Out of the heart comes the issues of life
Take another look at verses 4:20-27 at the top of the page. If inclining our ears to hear His sayings, if keeping his sayings before our eyes, if keeping those things in the midst of our hearts creates life in the heart, what will the things of the world create in the heart when we don’t guard the heart against them? You guessed it – Death!
The ears, the eyes, and the tongue are portals into the heart. Whatever goes in is like a seed being planted in a garden. In time they will either bring a harvest of life or a harvest of death. I am not saying you are going to die for some of the things you say. I am saying that whatever you allow into the heart is what you ultimately believe, and, what your life can ultimately become.
Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. (Proverbs 4:23 NIV)