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Safeguard Your Heart
Proverbs 4:23 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
23 Keep your heart with all vigilance,
for from it flow the springs of life.
Keep your heart with all vigilance: The heart (לֵב leb) in the Old Testament seldom has anything to do specifically with emotions. The heart is the “center of humans’ physical, mental, and spiritual life. The heart and the intellect are closely connected, the heart being the seat of intelligence.” The heart is to be kept (נָצַר natsar) with all vigilance (מִשְׁמָר mishmar). To keep has the sense of safety: to keep, protect, or preserve something safe from injury, harm, or danger. It suggests a relationship with the protector. (Psa. 40:12) Vigilance means to guard or keep careful watch over for protection against possible danger or difficulties. It is constant reminders that keep these things close to the heart. This is why the writers of the Hebrew Old Testament repeated things so often or made the same point but in different ways. The heart can be caught off guard and lured into wrongdoing without constant watchfulness. If you keep a careful watch over your mind and your eyes, you will, in essence, be keeping a careful watch over your heart.
For from it flow the springs of life: From it, namely, the heart, figuratively, the mind, the element of a person that enables them to be aware of the world and their experiences, think, and feel; the faculty of consciousness and thought. The centerpiece of it all is the mind. Our moods, behaviors, and body responses result from the way we view things. It is a proven fact that we cannot experience any event in any way, shape, or form unless we have processed it with our minds first. No event can depress us; our perception of that event will depress us. If we are only sad over an event, our thoughts will be rational, but if we are depressed, wrathful, or anxious about an event, our thinking will be bent and irrational, distorted and utterly wrong.
It may be difficult for each of us to wrap our mind around it, but we are superb at telling ourselves outright lies and half-truths repeatedly throughout each day. In fact, some of us are so good at it that it has become our reality and led to annoyance, stress, irritation, anger, even depression, and anxiety. In many ways, our lives are somehow defined by the thoughts stored in and running through the heart or mind. How we think is how we feel. We must keep our eye constantly upon our inward desires of the fallen flesh. We must uphold a holy protectiveness of ourselves and set a firm watch over our imperfect desires. Again, we mention that in our fallen state, we are mentally bent toward evil (Gen. 6:5; 8:21) with a treacherous heart. (Jer. 17:9) Thus, we must stay vigilant to keep ourselves from causing us harm or being harmed, or even further defiled by sin, or anxious over world conditions.
We need to keep our conscience empty of sinful temptations, remove our bad thoughts, retain our good thoughts, keeping our desires upon right objects and within appropriate limits. There are many ways of Keeping our heart with all vigilance: by having a prayer life, by being careful in all that we do, staying spiritually strong, maintaining our spiritual growth, asking for help. We need to keep our eyes, the seat of our motivation, focused. (Job 31:1) We need to keep our tongues under control. (Psa. 34:13) We must keep our feet from bad paths. (Pr 1:10, 15; 4:27; Ecc. 5:1) However, the highest priority is our keeping our hearts pure. Out of our human hearts that have been biblically maintained will flow the springs of life to the glory of God. Everything that we do flows from our hearts. Our lives will be successful and prosper spiritually, physically, and even monetarily depending on our hearts, whether they are kept or neglected.
 Gerald P. Cowen, “Heart”, in Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, ed. Chad Brand, Charles Draper, Archie England et al., 731 (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003).