Keep your heart with all vigilance,
for from it flow the springs of life.
Have you become more security conscious? I have, as it seems there is always something we need to guard against, whether it’s a virus infecting our bodies or a virus infecting our laptops. More and more of us are stepping up efforts to guard our credit cards, protect our social security numbers, and secure our privacy. We routinely make sure our front doors are locked, change our passwords, and pay for home security.
But in today’s scripture the wisdom of Proverbs calls for our greatest vigilance and guarding to go to our hearts. It makes sense that if we guard our homes from burglary, and our identities from hacking, that we be vigilant in the one area affecting every area life: our hearts.
The first line of our scripture in the Hebrew reads literally: “above all your guarding, keep your heart.” In other words, more than you would guard anything in the world, guard your heart. More than you are vigilant in guarding your homes and your finances, see that you keep and guard your heart.
When the Old and New Testaments talk about your heart they are talking about your innermost being. Biblically speaking, your heart is symbolic for inner core, your thoughts, values, and ambitions. In modern terms, we would say that your heart is your immaterial self, what you are deep inside that no one can see. That is why Scripture reminds, “the LORD looks on the heart” (I Samuel 16:7). God sees your ‘heart-health’ as affecting all of life. You heart proves to be the wellspring of your every action and word.
The Lord Jesus picks up on the warning about the need to guard our hearts, saying, “For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions comes: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these things come from within, and they defile the person” (Mark 7:21-23).
A wrong heart, Jesus warns, leads to a wrong life. We never commit in of those actions Jesus warns about without first committing them in our hearts. There is no foolish action or evil word that does not flow from our hearts.
Today’s scripture alludes to the careful guarding of springs in the ancient Middle East as it warns that from the heart “flow the springs of life.” Springs were a precious resource to people in arid Bible lands, and were carefully guarded (e. g. Song of Solomon 4:12). To carelessly allow a spring to be poisoned or polluted would affect everything flowing from it. Solomon reminds in today’s wisdom proverb that what we allow to enter our hearts, and to go on in our hearts is the programming of our lives. The Message version aptly translates Solomon’s warning, “Keep vigilant watch over your heart; that’s where life starts.”
Ancient Jewish tradition says that King David wrote Psalm 119 as an acrostic poem in order to teach the Hebrew alphabet to his son Solomon. In that long psalm of 176 verses, every verse is about the importance of God’s Word in our lives. The gist of David’s psalm is summed up in verse 11: “I treasure your word in my heart, so that I may not sin against you.”
The best way guard and to keep our hearts with all diligence is to treasure God’s Word; read it, pray it, study it, memorize and meditate on it (See Psalm 1).
Today’s scripture leads me to search my heart and to ponder: how does my intake of the world’s media compare to my intake of God’s Word. And I pray with David: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24).
A fellow traveler,