Pondering the Principles of Proverbs
I heard Billy Graham say, in effect, “I looked over the newspaper this morning and read about murders, rapes, robberies, adulteries, embezzlements and other problems in this city, and I wasn't bothered.
“And that bothers me.”
The word “heart” is often used to mean something other than the blood-pumper sitting beneath your fifth rib. We use it in our every day language to refer to the source of a person's being--”She's got a good heart.”
And that is how this proverb is using the word—referring to the source.
Notice that it says the heart determines the course of your life.
In the Septuagint, which is the Greek rendering of the Old Testament written in the late 3rd century B.C., the word is ἔξοδοι , which is ordinarily translated as “exodus.” The second book of Moses in the Christian Bible is known as Exodus, which is the account of the Israelites leaving the bondage of Egypt. The word “exodus” is literally a “going out” or “going forth.”
So, go back to the verse under consideration.
Your heart determines the “going out” of your life—how your life issues forth.
Fate does not determine your life.
Luck does not determine your life.
Chance does not determine your life.
Environment does not determine your life.
Your parents do not determine your life.
The government does not determine your life.
Your heart determines your life.
YOU determine your life.
According to this proverb, you determine your life because it is up to you to guard it. If you don't guard your heart, then your life will seem to be out of control. (We will look at this more closely when we get to Proverbs 26:2)
There are only two choices here: guard or neglect.
“Guard” is being active, in control. “Neglect” is being passive, at the effect. Neglect is easy, the path of least resistance. Guarding is work; hard work. It is not something for the fainthearted, weak-willed, or self-centered.
“Guard” is a military term. In times of relative peace, I only had to stand guard four hours at a time. In today's world of constant distraction, four hours of doing nothing but keeping alert seems like an eternity. During heightened awareness times, it was six hours of guard duty. During combat, sleep, relaxation, or veggin' are not priorities. Even answering nature's call is “put on the back burner,” because the possibility of enemy attack is always imminent. The possibility of “enemy attack” is always imminent in this life, especially if you are wanting the best life possible for you and yours.
That's why “guarding your heart” is of utmost importance.
Other translations, and not a few commentaries point out the meaning of the phrase as being “above everything else that you guard.”
Do you guard your money? Guard your heart more.
Do you guard your possessions? Guard your heart more.
Do you guard your reputation? Guard your heart more.
Do you guard your family? Guard your heart more.
No one else can guard it for you. It is your heart, and yours to guard, keep, protect.
(This is, of course, not necessarily true for children. Parents are placed in a position of protection for their children.)
What are we to guard against? We will consider some possibilities in our next issue.
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