Bible Study

Guarding the heart

From September through December 2019 we will study the life of David, the man after God’s heart. The heart is where the battle goes on. In Proverbs 4:20-27 we read twice about the heart.

Proverbs 4:20-27

20 My son, pay attention to what I say;
turn your ear to my words.
21 Do not let them out of your sight,
keep them within your heart;
22 for they are life to those who find them
and health to one’s whole body.
23 Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it.
24 Keep your mouth free of perversity;
keep corrupt talk far from your lips.
25 Let your eyes look straight ahead;
fix your gaze directly before you.
26 Give careful thought to the paths for your feet
and be steadfast in all your ways.
27 Do not turn to the right or the left;
keep your foot from evil.

Keep my words in the midst of your heart – verse 20-22

We are called to ‘pay attention and closely listen to my words’. We cannot see God. The God of Israel has revealed Himself through speaking: in words. Even the miracles of God can only be recognized as such: through his words. So the people of Israel are called to listen – Deuteronomy 6:4-9. The Psalms of David prove that he was always listening, singing and talking to God, keeping His words in the midst of his heart.

Guard your heart – verse 23

This is a key verse. Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. The heart is the richest biblical term for the totality of man’s inner nature, his will, thoughts and emotions. Most importantly, the heart is where our desires and fears are formed: ‘it is the wellspring of life’ (NIV), or ‘for from it flow the springs of life’ (NAS). This verse tells us that we can each influence and shape our heart by guarding it. The KJV and the NAS read ‘keep watch with all diligence’. Protect it, because it is so easily led astray. The word translated ‘guard’ has the same root as ‘prison’. Indeed, sometimes one needs to lock the door of the heart.

Mouth, lips, eyes and feet – verses 24-27

The following verses tell us how guarding our heart is done in a very practical way:

First, be careful what you say. Speech effects the heart. If we express our dislikes, negativity will increase. But if we speak words of encouragement, sing songs of worship, and read words of Scripture out loud, our hearts will be filled with the desire for God and love for our neighbor.

Second, be careful what you see. Have you noticed that the eyes are never satisfied – Proverbs 27:20? This is so important in our day and age, with everything available to see and watch through the internet. Forbidding children to watch certain movies or websites is not enough. We need to help them to learn to guard their own hearts. But adults themselves struggle in this area. So many are addicted to games, YouTube, news sites, sports, pornography, etc. But again, the opposite is true as well. Let your sight be governed by the word of God; seeing things from God’s perspective will feed your hearts with the desire for God and his kingdom.

Third, be careful where you walk. Jesus said that wide is the gate and broad the road that leads to destruction. It is the direction one goes without thinking. The road to the kingdom, however, is narrow and not easy to find. One needs to consciously seek and choose to go that direction.

Pastor Gilbert van Bueren

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