The subject of the Heart is a vast one. There are about 1,000 verses on this subject and it can seem a little overwhelming to address such an immense subject. So let’s address it by using questions that can narrow it down to make it more manageable as we put our focus on one aspect of the Heart.
First, let me define what I mean by the word “heart.” It is not the physical heart that pumps blood through our bodies. I am addressing the nonphysical or spiritual heart. It is the dwelling or container that houses the human spirit. It is that which makes up the inner man, heart and spirit.
This is the question for this article. HOW IMPORTANT IS THE HEART?
It may seem like a question that would be asked after several other questions had been answered, such as WHAT IS THE HEART? I will look at that question in the future, but for now I want to instill in your thinking an answer to the question, IS THIS STUDY WORTH MY TIME?
I hope by the end of this article your answer will be “Yes!” and you will be ready to embark on a life changing journey.
I realize that you do not know who I am and may have questions such as, Am I a person of integrity? Am I able to accurately explain the scriptures that we will look at? I believe there is a simple way to address these concerns. You have permission to disagree with anything that I write. I would only ask that you put it on the shelf for now, and if the Holy Spirit brings it off the shelf, fine. If not, leave it there. No doubt there will be statements that you will have to meditate on and pray over before you reach a conclusion. Please feel free to do just that.
So let us launch into this topic of the IMPORTANCE OF THE HEART. I will be looking at Proverbs 4:20-27 from the New American Standard Version
20 My son,give attention to my words; Incline your ear to my sayings.
21 Do not let them depart from your sight; Keep them in the midst of your heart.
22 For they are life to those who find them And health to all their body.
23 Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flowthe springs of life.
24 Put away from you a deceitful mouth And put devious speech far from you.
25 Let your eyes look directly ahead And let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you.
26 Watch the path of your feet And all your ways will be established.
27 Do not turn to the right nor to the left; Turn your foot from evil.
Note these words in verse 20: “My son, give attention to my words; Incline your ear to my sayings.” There are two imperatives (commands) that are given to us. We are to give attention and incline our ear. So what does ‘giving attention’ look like in my actions? It is to listen carefully, to give heed to, and in some context, it means to obey. It is paying close attention to what is heard and it can also include what we see. This is how it is used in Isaiah 21:7:
“When he sees riders, horsemen in pairs, A train of donkeys, a train of camels, Let him pay close attention, very close attention.”
We are also to “incline our ear.” We are to stretch out our ear in the direction of the sound coming from the voice of our Father. It would be like cupping our hand behind our ear so we can hear every word spoken. We need to pay close attention and stretching our ear toward his words.
The Hebrew word for ‘word’ is דָּבָר – Davar. A simple vocabulary card definition is word or thing. But the deeper meaning is essence or reality. Yeshua is the Living Word. He is the living essence or reality of who the Father is. He said if you have seen me you have seen the Father.
So it is important that we go beyond an intellectual understanding of the meaning to its essence or reality. We are paying close attention to his words so that we can move from the word and its meaning to the image that is created by the word.
We are encouraged by the Father to see the images that his words were meant to create. This is so important because the language of the heart is images or pictures. When we see the image that his word was meant to create, we can then take this into our life experience.
An example would be the word love. Many times I have told my dear wife of 51 years that I love her. But if she were to ask me, “Do you really love me?” is she asking for a better definition of the word love? I still have a lot to learn but I certainly have learned this – she does not want an intellectual explanation of the word love. She wants the reality of that word and this reality is seen in kindness, thoughtfulness, helpfulness, it’s seen showing in my actions that I value her.
Verse 21 moves us from the outer man to the inner man. “Do not let them depart from your sight; Keep them in the midst of your heart.” Again we have two imperatives. The negative command is “do not let them depart” and the positive command tis o “keep them in the midst of your heart.” The Father is very clear that we are responsible for this action. If he asks us to do something, then we can know that it is possible to do it.
What we are seeing in the reality of these words and the images they have created must not be neglected so that they do not depart from our hearts. Remember, the language of the heart is images and we want to be living from HIS images in our hearts.
Verse 22 gives us a wonderful summary of why verses 20 and 21 are so impacting on our lives. “For they are life to those who find them, And health to all their whole body.” The words and sayings which give us the reality of who the Father is, and who we are in Him, are Life to us. The word translated ‘life is’ in the plural, meaning lives. So how are we to understand this plural? It could be pointing out emphasis and is sometimes called a majestic plural. I would encourage you to consider life in the plural relating to the life of the inner man and (singular) life relating to that of the outer man. The last part of verse 22 amplifies on what this life for the outer man looks like in experience. It is health (healing, cure) to the whole body.
Verse 23 is the focal point of these eight verses. It is the punch line for what has been said and what will be said in the remaining verses. “Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.”
We are to use (or by reason of) all observance to set a guard over our hearts. We are to watch over, keep, and protect our hearts. Because from the heart “flow the springs.” The word translated springs ( תּוֹצְא֥וֹת ) carries the idea of an outgoing source. Here it is speaking of the issues of life.
Notice that it is not just a small part, but all the issues of life are flowing from the heart. The heart is the source of everything that is in my life. Everyone lives from the heart whether or not we realize it. Much of what we call our responses to life are really reactions to previous programming in the heart. And because the heart responds automatically and instantaneously, at the speed of now, those reactions flow from whatever is in the heart. It is of utmost importance for us to understand this so we can choose what is going to be in our hearts for our lives will be lived out of whatever is found in our hearts.
Our next four verses are going to relate back to verse 23 and specifically to the point that all the issues of life come from the heart. So why are these verses addressing outward behavior, that which is part of the outer man the soul and body? I believe our behavior that can be seen is used by the Father as a diagnostic tool to help us see that there is a place in our hearts that needs to be healed. The Father never points out a problem without a solution readily available so that we can experience healing.
Verse 24 says “Put away from you a deceitful mouth, and put devious lips far from you.” The Father is saying that we are to put away perversion and deceitfulness of mouth. Deceitful is used to describe a mouth that speaks without integrity, one that does not speak truth, but rather deception and immorality. According to Proverbs 6:12, this is the mark of a worthless and wicked person.
We are to also address devious lips, lips filled with perversity and deceitfulness. The Hebrew root for the word devious ( לָזוּת) carries the idea of going the wrong way. This person with devious lips is despising the Father and his path for their lives and going down their own path.
There is to be a concerted effort to see that this kind of speech is removed from our mouth. In Psalm 101:4, “A perverse heart shall depart from me; I will know no evil”, King Davidstates his intention that a perverse heart shall depart from him. He was right on the mark as to what was the root cause of wicked behavior. But he does not neglect behavior, for he addresses that in the last part of this verse. “I will know no evil”. This is knowledge gained by the senses and back in Proverb 4:24 that would be the hearing. Why was David not going to know any evil? Because he was dealing with his heart, the source of all the issues of life.
Verse 25 – “Let your eyes look directly ahead, and let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you.” This verse focuses on intentionality. As we make the commitment to watch over our hearts, we need to stay with that commitment. So how does all this work? There is a focus and commitment as to how I will live my outward, visible life – the life related to the soul and body.
There are two polite commands in this verse “look” directly ahead and “fixed straight” in front of you. This verse is asking us to live according to the direction given by the Scriptures. And when we are moving away from the ‘directly ahead walk,’ we need to check the heart so that a course correction can be made. If we only focus on the outward behavior, we will be in a constant struggle of moving off the path and then getting back on the path. For without a change in the heart, the behavior correction is only temporary.
Verse 26 “Watch the path of your feet, And all your ways will be established.” In this verse we have the second appearance of the English word ‘watch’ or ‘sight.’ But it is a different Hebrew word than the Hebrew word in verse 21 ( שָׁמַר) which is translated sight. The word watch in this verse (פָּלַס ) has the idea of to weigh out, make level, to ponder the path your feet are on or the way your life is going as measured by the Scriptures. This kind of walk will cause all your ways to be established or made firm. This will be a life lived consistently in accord with the truth out lined in the Scriptures. This way of life leads to harmony and union with the Father. We are able to enjoy intimacy with Him, an intimacy that is experienced every day.
Verse 27 “Do not turn to the right nor to the left; Turn your foot from evil.” This verse concludes this little section with a strong admonition to stay on the right path. We have been told how to get on this path and now that we are on it we need to maintain the guarding of the heart and the practice of healing of the heart where it is needed so that we can stay on this course of life. The only turning that we are instructed to do is to turn from evil.
It is important to meditate on these instructions and set a course with the help of the Holy Spirit to live this kind of life. There are always some setbacks. I can write about this subject much better than I can live it. But now I know what is the source of my problem… my heart needs a lot of healing; and that is what my Father is bringing about each day. I hope this little look at Proverbs 4 will encourage you to pray that you too can begin the journey of restoring your heart to all that the Father intends it to be so that your walk with Him can be all that He intends it to be. He wants a close, intimate, growing, personal, face to face relationship with you.
Bless His name for such a promise!