for from it flow springs of life.
24 Put away deception from your mouth;
keep your lips from perverse speech.
25 Let your eyes look forward;
fix your gaze straight ahead.
26 Make a level path for your feet,
and all your ways will be sure.
27 Do not swerve to the right or to the left;
turn your feet away from evil.
Strong's Exhaustive Concordance
Guard - נְצֹ֣ר (natsar, nə·ṣōr) - Verb - Qal - Imperative - masculine singular
Strong's Hebrew 5341: To watch, guard, keep
Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon adds: Watch, guard, keep the way
your heart - לִבֶּ֑ךָ (leb, lib·be·ḵā) - Noun - masculine singular construct | second person masculine singular
Strong's Hebrew 3820: The heart, the feelings, the will, the intellect, centre, the inner man
"The fact here stated is that the moral conduct of life, its actions and proceedings, are determined by the condition of the heart. If the heart is pure, the life will be pure; if the heart is corrupt, the life will be corrupt." - Pulpit Commentary
Matthew 12:33-35 (Jesus speaking) 33 "Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad; for a tree is known by its fruit. 34 You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks. 35 The good man brings good things out of his good store of treasure, and the evil man brings evil things out of his evil store of treasure."
Matthew 15:17-18 (Jesus speaking) 17 “Do you not yet realize that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then is eliminated? 18 But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these things defile a man."
Luke 6:45 (Jesus speaking) "The good man brings good things out of the good treasure of his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil treasure of his heart. For out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks."
Mark 7:20-20-23 (Jesus speaking) He continued: “What comes out of a man, that is what defiles him. 21 For from within the hearts of men come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 greed, wickedness, deceit, debauchery, envy, slander, arrogance, and foolishness. 23 All these evils come from within, and these are what defile a man.”
Strong's Exhaustive Concordance
Put - הָסֵ֣ר (sur, hā·sêr) - Verb - Hifil - Imperative - masculine singular
Strong's Hebrew 5493: To turn aside
away - מִ֭מְּךָ (min, mim·mə·ḵā) - Preposition | second person masculine singular
Strong's Hebrew 4480: A part of, from, out of
deception - עִקְּשׁ֣וּת (iqqeshuth, ‘iq·qə·šūṯ) - Noun - feminine singular construct
Strong's Hebrew 6143: Crookedness (of mouth)
Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers adds: A froward mouth.-Hebrew 'iqqesh-th, literally means distortion, or twisting of the truth
from perverse speech - וּלְז֥וּת (ū·lə·zūṯ) - Conjunctive waw | Noun - feminine singular construct
Strong's Hebrew 3891: Deviation, crookedness
"A froward mouth, and perverse lips; literally, perverseness of mouth and waywardness of lips (ikk'shuth peh vulzuth s'phathayim). 'Perversity of mouth' is fraudulent, deceitful speech; that which twists, distorts, perverts, or misrepresents what is true, and hence falsehood" - Pulpit Commentary
Leviticus 19:11 Ye shall not steal, neither deal falsely, neither lie one to another.
Ephesians 4:25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are members of one another.
Zechariah 8:16 These are the things you must do: Speak truth to one another, render true and sound decisions in your gates,
Colossians 3:9 Do not lie to one another, since you have taken off the old self with its practices,
1 Peter 2:1 Rid yourselves, therefore, of all malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander.
"'To look right on' and 'to look straight before one' is to fix the eyes steadily and unswervingly upon an object before them, not to allow the gaze to deflect either to the right hand or to the left." - Pulpit Commentary
"Ponder the path of thy feet; properly, make straight or level the path of thy feet. . . Simplicity of aim in the moral life is to be accompanied by attention to the moral conduct. The sense is, remove every obstacle which may impede or render insecure the way of moral life, and thus avoid every false step." - Pulpit Commentary
Deuteronomy 5:32-33 32 So be careful to do as the LORD your God has commanded you; you are not to turn aside to the right or to the left. 33 You must walk in all the ways that the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess.
"Keep thy heart with all diligence. We must set a strict guard upon our souls; keep our hearts from doing hurt, and getting hurt. A good reason is given; because out of it are the issues of life. Above all, we should seek from the Lord Jesus that living water, the sanctifying Spirit, issuing forth unto everlasting life. Thus we shall be enabled to put away a froward mouth and perverse lips; our eyes will be turned from beholding vanity, looking straight forward, and walking by the rule of God's word, treading in the steps of our Lord and Master. Lord, forgive the past, and enable us to follow thee more closely for the time to come." - Matthew Henry Commentary
There are action words in these verses:
Guard (your heart)
Put (away deception)
Keep (your lips from perverse speech)
Straight (fix your gaze straight ahead)
Make (level your path)
Will (your ways will be sure)
Turn (your feet away from evil)
You don't guard worthless trash. Our heart is so valuable that God commands you to "guard your heart". Why is our heart so valuable? It is the essence of who we are. Out of this inner source, or wellspring, of thought and intellect, come our attitudes, our words and our actions. It is our being. It is the seat of wisdom, knowledge, experience, understanding, discernment, memory, thought (rational and irrational) and where we make our choices. It is the inner person: our behavior, our attitudes, our words, our character. Your heart is the reservoir of your life, and from it flows your decisions, choices, actions, behaviors and, ultimately, your character. When we use the term "heart" it doesn't mean the physical organ that pumps our blood. To me it means the soul of a person. Some people use the term "soul" to mean their "spirit". To me there is three parts to our being: our physical bodies, our soul and our spirit. When we are born, we are born with physical bodies and our souls. But we are missing the spirit. The spirit is born when we accept Jesus as our Savior and become a converted, believing Christian. It's what we call being born-again. Our bodies don't become newborn infants again. Our soul is not a newborn infant (thus the need for renewing our minds). It is the spirit that is born. We are once more the 3 part being that God intended (in His image). To me, our soul is our heart, our innermost being, what makes us who we are. Although, as I said before, some people use soul, heart and spirit interchangeably and you need to read, or hear the content, to recognize which they are speaking of.
When we are born, our souls/heart have limited programming. In a computer, there is a base memory programmed to get the computer started and running. It is a set of read only memory (ROM) instructions called ROM BIOS. We cannot access this memory to make changes. We are born like that and some of the things that are in this firmware (unchangeable) is our God given purpose (to worship God) and our seed of faith. Beyond this may be characteristics that arise and make us uniquely us. I may be born with a tendency to depression and I probably got that gene from an ancestor. This doesn't give me an excuse not to fight it. If it isn't godly and leads to sin, then I must fight it even if it's a natural tendency in me. All of us have something we are weak in and with which we must struggle against. The struggle is what makes us stronger and more of a godly survivor and warrior. We also have inborn strengths that can be encouraged. For instance, someone may be a natural musician or have a confident personality. Now, beyond this ROM BIOS, we begin to add environment, experiences, knowledge and we grow our inner man. You may have had good experiences, bad experiences, traumatic experiences, wonderful experiences and along the way, they can shape our inner person. Somethings we cannot control, they have been done to us or we were too immature to know how to handle whatever it was. But God can turn even those things into strengths and treasures if we let Him (that takes time and is part of the process of sanctification and healing). But what God is talking about in Proverbs 4:23 is to guard our hearts/soul/inner person when we can. I.e. don't choose to go to the seedy side of town and proposition a prostitute or don't go to pornographic websites or don't go into that bar and order a drink. These are choices that can harm the inner person, causing problems we didn't have to have in our thought life and our actions and our character.
Genesis 6:5 And God saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was evil continually before God
This is a scary verse. This is describing civilization and society BEFORE the Great Flood of Noah. I.e. God had to bring judgment against millions of people, because their hearts were so evil continually! So if God judged those people for their wickedness, their evil imaginations and thoughts which ended up in evil words and actions... do we think He doesn't care what's in OUR hearts?
Romans 12:2 Be not conformed to this world; but be transformed by the renewing of your mind
Psalm 119:9-11 9 How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word. 10 I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. 11 I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
When we have the control, we should make wise choices to guard our hearts. Another computer term is GIGO - Garbage In, Garbage Out. If I input faulty data, make data entry errors, then the computer will produce faulty, erroneous data. For example, if the meter reader inputs the wrong readings into the computer, then our power bill will be incorrect. If someone accidentally transposes a number or adds an extra zero, we get the wrong results. It can be costly results! So a computer's results are only as good as the data entered. So it is with our heart, our soul. We must take care not to involve ourselves in something evil, wicked, immoral, sinful. How do we input data into our heart/soul? One way is by our senses. We read, we hear, we taste, we feel, we smell. This is why sex is something to be very aware of and careful of. All our senses become involved and our bodies react and it becomes very hard to control after that. God knows how hard it is to control ourselves when our senses, our bodies and hormones get involved. It's why He warns us to guard our hearts. Don't open yourself to pornography; or to suggestive books, magazines and movies; don't participate in sexual innuendos, , dirty jokes, suggestive and flirty conversations; don't listen to vulgar and erotic music. Be careful with your thought life. Once we begin dwelling on something ungodly, it doesn't take long before the thoughts control us and action/behavior follows.
Guarding our heart also includes nourishing our heart/soul with godly things. Being careful to input good things that nourish our relationship with God. Reading the Word, prayer, worship, Christian music, godly conversation, Christian books, etc. It doesn't have to be all Christian music and only Christian books. Any good media can nourish our soul/heart such as good books, beautiful poetry, classical music, country songs about good family life (there are some out there, LOL), good TV shows, good movies, sitting on a beach and contemplating God, watching a sunrise and loving God for it, etc. But you choose whether or not to watch an uplifting movie or one filled with violence, sex and filthy language. Which one nourishes your soul and spirit and which one weakens our soul and spirit?
Set your eyes on God and keep Him as your focus and then make sure you make wise choices that keep your focus steady and true. When it's in your power and under your control, make wise decisions that help you rather than hurt you. Life is going to throw enough lemons at us (because we live in a sinful and fallen world surrounded by sinful, fallen and faulty human beings) without us making more trouble for ourselves by being stupid. Don't fill your life with garbage and then try to tiptoe through it without getting filthy yourself. It won't work.
Let me tell you a story about the Collyer brothers, Homer and Langley. Home and Langley Collyer were born into a wealthy family but once their parents died, they became recluses and retreated into their huge mansion in NY. In 1909, Dr. Herman Livingston Collyer (a gynecologist at Belleview who had married his first cousin, Susie Gage Frost) moved the family into a four-story brownstone in Harlem at 2078 Fifth Avenue. Both Homer and Langley attended Columbia University. Homer obtained a degree in admiralty law, while Langley studied engineering and chemistry. Langley was also an accomplished concert pianist; he played professionally for a time and performed at Carnegie Hall. The family had been parishioners since 1697 at Trinity Church. Around 1919, Herman Collyer and Susie Collyer separated. Dr. Collyer moved to a new home at 153 West 77th Street while Susie Collyer stayed in the Harlem brownstone. Homer and Langley, never married and never lived on their own and chose to stay with their mother in the brownstone. Dr. Collyer died in 1923 and Susie Collyer died in 1929, leaving the brothers all their possessions and the Harlem brownstone. After their mother's death, the Collyer brothers continued to live together. For the next four years, the brothers socialized with others and left their home on a regular basis. Homer continued to practice law while Langley worked as a piano dealer. Both also taught Sunday school at the Trinity Church. But they quit paying their bills and all utilities were eventually turned off. In 1933, Homer lost his eyesight due to hemorrhages in the back of his eyes. Langley quit his job to care for his brother and the two began to withdraw completely from society. As the area began to go downhill, rumors went around the neighborhood that the Collyers had valuables and cash stored in the house so they attempted to rob the brothers. Vandals broke the windows. Langley tinkered with inventions so he came up with booby traps to protect them. He wired the doors shut and boarded up windows. He got water from a park fountain, they heated a room with a kerosene heater. He scavenged food from trash cans.
On March 21, 1947, an anonymous tipster phoned the 122nd Police Precinct and insisted there was a dead body in the house from the smell. An emergency squad of seven men eventually had to begin pulling out all of the junk that was blocking their way and throwing it out onto the street below. Homer Collyer's body was found in an alcove surrounded by filled boxes and stacks of newspapers that were piled to the ceiling. He had only been dead 10 hours. He had died from starvation and heart disease. On April 8, 1947, a workman found the body of Langley Collyer ten feet from where Homer had died. It took that long for the crews to remove enough stuff to find it! The medical examiner determined that Langley had died around March 9. Police theorized that Langley was crawling through the tunnel to take food to his paralyzed brother when he inadvertently tripped a booby trap he had created and was crushed by debris. His cause of death was attributed to asphyxiation. 120 tons of debris, mostly garbage, was removed and the home was in such bad shape that it was destroyed. The brothers had cash and assets that would have been worth over a million dollars in today's money. If they had used their energies, talents and education to advantage they could have added to it and lived in comfort. At one point they were offered $125,000 for the brownstone but refused to sell it. That was a lot of money back then, especially considering the neighborhood decline. But instead they invested in trash and let it all rot and decay and finally kill them. All their time, energies and education went to collect newspapers and garbage. They lived in filth. They died of their own booby traps and their bodies decomposed and were gnawed on by rats.
Proverbs 4:25-27 25 Let your eyes look forward;
fix your gaze straight ahead.
26 Make a level path for your feet,
and all your ways will be sure.
27 Do not swerve to the right or to the left;
turn your feet away from evil.
How is your path? Have you crowded your life with garbage, filth, obstructions, booby traps? Will you be caught dead in a hell of your own making? Make a level path for your feet, keep your focus on God, walk in purity and guard your mind by keeping the trash out.
Had you ever heard of the story of the Collyer brothers? They died in 1947 so it was a long time ago but it was a famous media sensation at the time. Are you a hoarder? Do you hoard food? Do you hoard trash? Do you hoard clothes? Do you hoard purchases from shopping online or in stores? Do you hoard cars? Do you hoard in your home, outside buildings, offsite storage? Even if it's valuable, are you letting it lose value because you can't keep it in good condition? Is it decaying and rotting, falling to pieces, becoming trash? Have the rats begun to get in it, the bugs, mildew, mold, weather? What good is it if it has lost all value or rots into dust? I just recently came across a hoarder who had a very large home on acreage. It was very well built. But she had filled it with so much junk she couldn't live in the house any more. She lived in a camper in the backyard. She had spent so much money on "collectibles" and then thrown them in the house. They were still in the boxes and bags, never opened or used. All that money was wasted on that stuff and she couldn't pay her property taxes. The county was going to take her house for back taxes! She could sell the property, but it meant moving all that junk and then paying off the back taxes, leaving her with little to start again. With help she did, but she took a lot of that junk with her which meant she was buying another house based on storage of junk. For instance, we live inside a house and we don't do a lot outside. So I don't really need acreage to take care of when I can't take care of it, don't want to take care of it and don't want to have to pay someone else to take care of it. We lived on a farm before so I know all about maintaining 100 acres and a large yard. We felt land poor. Lots of land, but had to settle for less house or less money in the bank. So when we went looking for a house, we were looking more at square footage and the lay of the house, rather than how many acres went with it. I didn't want to pay for acres and have a small house. I'd rather have a nice sized house and less acres. The hoarder I mentioned went looking for a house with extra storage for junk. I'm sure she ended up with less house to live in and more outbuildings to store junk in. She sacrificed what she needed and wanted in order to store her junk. That's her business and I'm just glad she has somewhat of a new start. But more than likely she will continue in her ways.
There are hoarders because they are too lazy and slothful to take out the trash and wash their dishes. There are hoarders because they are disabled and can't take out the trash. There are hoarders because greed, it's all about them and their desires. There are hoarders who are so selfish they won't give up a single piece of trash in order to help someone else such as a spouse, a child, a parent. In fact, if someone else sees value in something they hold, they will really refuse to give it up! There are hoarders because they enjoy being crafty, manipulative and wily. They want to trick others into doing everything for them. Why should they clean their house, repair it, maintain it, take off the trash when eventually someone else will do it for them and at someone else's expense? There are hoarders who have control issues. They just can't let someone else have control over anything in their lives even if it means help in taking out the trash. There are hoarders who are truly mentally ill, they are vacant in life and unable to function. Except for those who physically cannot perform basic tasks or those who are so mentally ill they cannot function... all the other hoarders are hoarders due to sins - greed, lust, fear, selfishness, idolatry, control.
Now let's apply that to our inner life. Are we hoarding junk? Are we hoarding trash? Are we hoarding worldly stuff that, in the end, is worthless? What are we putting into our minds? What are we accommodating and compromising on? Is it worth it? What are we spending our time, energy, money, talents and abilities on? Does it have any spiritual value? Are we investing in heavenly treasure? Or are we wasting ourselves on garbage? Are we making our path easier or harder? Are we able to keep our focus on God or are we so distracted by our collection of trash that we can't focus? Maybe it's time to do a spiritual inventory and take out the trash and set some priorities.
- Did you understand what verse 24 meant when it said, "guard your heart"? Journal your thoughts on it.
- How can you guard your heart, make your paths straight, keep your eyes fixed on God?
- Why should we guard our heart?
- Why is our heart valuable enough that God warns us to guard it?
- Why do you think God cares about the state of our inner man?
- Are you a hoarder of any type? Did you recognize yourself when we discussed hoarding? It's not a laughing matter. It's a very serious question. Do you need to let go of things, clean up, shovel out, haul away?
- What about your inner life? Are you hoarding things in your heart that you don't want God to mess with? Are you resistant to His offer to help you clean up? Do you cling to things of this world even though they are worthless? Are there dark recesses you don't want God to go in? Why? What holds you back from letting Him in and letting Him cart away the junk and cleaning up?
- Is your path level and easy or so filled with trash that you can hardly crawl through it? Have you booby trapped your life? If so, why?
- Homer and Langley were only 10 feet from each other when the booby trap fell down on Langley. Homer was paralyzed and Langley was buried just 10 feet from each other. Just 10 feet to salvation. But a life spent filling the house with garbage is what killed them and they died horrible deaths. Don't use your life to fill your inner man with so much garbage that the Holy Spirit can't get through to you to save you! You don't want to die just inches away from salvation! Let God in and let Him begin to clean out the clutter and trash so you can live a better life.
For all my studies on Proverbs click HERE.