Watch over your heart with all diligence
Proverbs 4:23 The person who watches over their heart and loves wisdom enjoys life
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”Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.“
Proverbs 4:23 NASB1995
God is not random. Earlier this week He had me study Proverbs 4:26-27, and for today’s verse He pointed me to the same chapter of Proverbs.
I’m sure that someone in the medical profession would love this proverb, as I know my primary care physician likes to give me tons of advice about diligently keeping my heart healthy so I can live a long and productive life. But that’s not what Solomon had in mind when he wrote this proverb. Rather than the physical, he’s emphasizing the spiritual.
Earlier in this chapter of Proverbs (4:21), Solomon suggests that godly people cultivate a heart that loves wisdom. Here, he’s telling the same audience that the we should also guard that heart. Against what? The ways of the wicked.
In Ezekiel 36:26, the prophet says that “…I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” That’s part of the promised new covenant which Christians now live under. The admonition to watch over our hearts implies that we should guard this new heart and do that with all diligence, as it isn’t easy to keep that heart. In a lifetime, we may ignore wisdom and give our hearts to an evil person or follow a dangerous path.
Charles Bridges, a 19th-Century Church of England preacher and theologian, made this comment about today’s verse:
“As Satan keeps special watch here, so must we keep special watch as well. If the citadel is taken, the whole town must surrender. If the heart is captured, the whole man — affections, desires, motives, pursuits — will be handed over.”1
The person who watches over their heart and loves wisdom enjoys life, seeing it as a splashing spring of joy and fulfillment. Sometimes the way of the wicked looks like a “better” path — it’s fun, it brings what appears to be happiness. But God, who designed and created humanity, guides us through life with His commands. Those commands are for our happiness and good, although we might not think so when we’re in the midst of turning away from wickedness!
Duane Garrett (The New American Commentary), provided the perfect closing quotes about wisdom and watching over the heart for today’s devotional:
“It is ‘the wellspring of life’ in that the capacity to live with joy and vigor ultimately comes from within and not from circumstances. The corrupt heart draws one down to the grave, but Wisdom protects the heart from that corruption.”
“If we pollute that wellspring, the infection will spread; before long, hidden appetites will become open sins and public shame.”2
Heaven On Wheels Daily Prayer:
Lord, You have given me a new heart and a new spirit, but as a human my heart can be deceived by wicked people and things that seem to bring happiness. May I follow Your Word and wisdom, and always walk the path of righteousness. Your commands are the only true way to joy and fulfillment in my life, and I pray in the name of Jesus that I may receive Your guidance when I need it the most. AMEN.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995, 2020 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. lockman.org.
Bridges, Charles "Proverbs" (The Crossway Classic Commentaries) (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books, 2001 edition of 1846 original)
Garrett, Duane A. "Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs" Volume 14 (The New American Commentary) (Nashville, Tennessee: Broadman and Holman, 1993)