Solomon was known to be a man of great wisdom. He was the wisest man during his time. God endowed him with unmatchable wisdom in response to his unrivaled sacrifice.
1 Kings 3 verses 11 and 12 says,
“Then God said to him: “Because you have asked this thing, and have not asked long life for yourself, nor have asked riches for yourself, nor have asked the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern justice, behold, I have done according to your words; see, I have given you a wise and understanding heart, so that there has not been anyone like you before you, nor shall any like you arise after you.”
Therefore, every word of Solomon is not to be taken with levity. He knew the safest place to keep the words of wisdom is in man’s heart. A heart that is well guided will not be exposed to evil deeds or thoughts. Every man is a product of what he thinks.
As a man thinketh, so is he. (Proverbs 23 verse 7). A good man thinks good while evil man thinks in evil ways. The condition of our heart reflects in our natural life.
Believers are expected to guard their hearts against what comes in and what goes out. We are to fill our hearts with the word of God. Meditate on the word and let the word dwell richly in our hearts.
Who wrote Proverbs 4:23 and when was it written?
The book of Proverbs 4:23 was written by King Solomon. It was believed to have been written during his reign around. (970—931 BC)
What is the context of Proverbs 4?
The context of Proverbs 4 is about exhortation to the study of wisdom, caution against bad companions, and doing the will of God.
This chapter is referred to by many as “Passing the Baton” Solomon was trying to pass the baton that he received from David, his father, to his children.
We can clearly say without a doubt that David taught Solomon how to pursue godly wisdom and not let her go.
Look at the words of Solomon in Proverbs 4 verses 3 to 4,
“When I was my father’s son, tender and the only one in the sight of my mother, he also taught me, and said to me: “Let your heart retain my words; Keep my commands, and live.”
Solomon is trying to show the children that he was once a child too. He quoted this statement at the beginning of the chapter to catch the attention of the children for the rest of the exhortation.
The important thing to note in this chapter is the benefits of divine wisdom and why children must pursue wisdom, and hold tight to it.
Proverbs 4, verse 7 says,
“Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom.”
Updated American Standard Version (UASV) says, acquire wisdom, acquire understanding: do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth. Acquire simply means to obtain, if possible to purchase at any cost to you.
Wisdom is of vital importance to all but for young people, it is of more significance to seek it in the early part of their lives so they don’t miss their steps.
Solomon went further to teach them the practical applications of wisdom. He admonished them not to enter the path of the wicked, or to walk in the ways of evil.
Evil referred to here are those that choose sin over wisdom. These people according to Solomon are on the wrong path which will lead to destruction.
Proverbs 4, verse 11 and 12 says,
“I have taught you in the way of wisdom; I have led you in right paths. When you walk, your steps will not be hindered, and when you run, you will not stumble.”
He gave them crucial caution against bad associations and the consequences attached to them. Their eyes are opened to the fact that the way of the wicked is like darkness while the path of the just is like the shining sun, that shines ever brighter unto the perfect day.
1 Corinthians 15 verses 33 and 34 says,
“Do not be deceived: evil company corrupts good habits. Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame.”
This chapter ends with specific instructions on the pursuit of wisdom. The best and the only way is to give attention to the words of wisdom and to keep them in the midst of the heart.
What is the message of Proverbs 4:23?
The message of Proverbs 4:23 taught about the importance of guiding our hearts or be a victim of the consequences.
The heart of a man is his control tower. Every word and deed seen in the open originated from the human heart. Your heart dictates your actions.
“brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. ” ( Matthew 12 verse 34)
Sin also starts from man’s heart. It is called temptation during the thought process. Satan’s target is to turn the heart of believers back to himself. That is why God is interested in our hearts.
Jesus told us to love the Lord our God with all our hearts, with all our souls, with all our minds, and with all our strength. If you love God with all your heart, you will guard it against everything that God abhors.
Every change that we experience also starts from the heart. A wrong heart always produces a wrong life.
What we let into our hearts reflects our personalities. If we let in evil things, we become evil. If we let in godly things, we become godly.
A wise person guards his heart carefully while an evil person handles it with negligence. Interestingly, God also deals with us with our hearts. He knows that man is deceitful in his outward appearance.
Jeremiah 29 verse 13,
“And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.”
It is very essential to consciously guide our heart and guard it jealously.
“Keep your heart with all diligence,” meaning
“Keep your heart with all diligence,” means to carefully watch over your heart.
To understand this verse of scripture very well, there is a need to read a few preceding verses. Proverbs 4 verses 20 to 22 says,
“My son, give attention to my words; Incline your ear to my sayings.
Do not let them depart from your eyes; Keep them in the midst of your heart; For they are life to those who find them, And health to all their flesh.”
The key phrase in the above statement is Keep them in the midst of your heart. This message of Solomon is for believers who have already embraced the word of wisdom.
What you guard must be a worthy asset or something of great value to you. The word of God is that great asset that we must guard in our hearts. It will serve as a form of defense against every evil thought.
Psalm 119 verse 11,
“Your word I have hidden in my heart that I might not sin against You.”
Fill your heart more and more with the word of God. If you don’t do that, the devil will come with his devices and help you to fill it up because nature abhors a vacuum.
Our heart is also the place where we make all our decisions. If you keep your heart good, your life will show goodness; if your heart is full of evil, your deeds and actions will reveal evil.
“For out of it spring the issues of life” meaning
“For out of it spring the issues of life” means our actions are determined by the state of our hearts.
Your words, thoughts, and actions flow from the state of your hearts. It has the details of your life. Use the word of God to monitor your hearts. Discard every evil thought and focus only on what God says.
Your life is directed by the product of your heart which is why God is interested in it.
Philippians 4 verse 8,
“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”
Your heart is a vital part of your walk with God. This begins with salvation. We confess with our mouths but we must believe in our hearts that God has raised Jesus from the dead before we can be saved.
You cannot access anything from the kingdom without engaging your heart.
Deuteronomy 4 verse 29,
“But if from thence thou shalt seek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul.”
David knew this at some point he asked God for a brand new heart (Psalm 51 verse 10). Guard your heart with all diligence. If your heart is pure and holy, your walk with God will be amazing and your Christian life will be triumphant.
What is the difference in biblical translations of Proverbs 4:23 (NKJV, KJV, NIV & ESV)?
Proverbs 4:23 NKJV biblical translation “Keep your heart with all diligence,
For out of it spring the issues of life.”
Proverbs 4:23 KJV biblical translation “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.”
Proverbs 4:23 NIV biblical translation “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
Proverbs 4:23 ESV biblical translation “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.”
There is no difference between the NKJV and KJV translations.
All vigilance in ESV is replaced by Above all else in ESV, meaning a state of close watchfulness and more than anything else respectively.
For everything you do flows from it in ESV is replaced by for from it flow the springs of life in ESV. Flow as used in both phrases means takes its course.
The four translations have the same meaning.
How can I guard my Heart?
Solomon gave us instructions in Proverbs 4 verses 24 to 27 on how to guard our hearts.
Put away from you a deceitful mouth, and put perverse lips far from you. Let your eyes look straight ahead, and your eyelids look right before you. Ponder the path of your feet, and let all your ways be established. Do not turn to the right or the left; Remove your foot from evil.
The following are the practical steps on how we can guard our hearts.
Feed your heart with the word of God
The word of God is the spiritual food that feeds our spiritual heart just like the physical food builds our physical heart. Jeremiah says, your words have I found and I ate them, they are the rejoicing of my heart.
The first step to guarding your heart is to feed your heart with the word of God. Give attention to the word sessions in church services. Create personal time to study the holy bible and to read books of anointed ministers of God.
The word gradually transforms you back into the image and likeness of God and also induces the mind of Christ in you. Filter everything that goes into your heart.
Pondering the path of your feet as mentioned in the above scripture to place the word of God side by side with the course of your life.
Give your time to only what glorifies God. Your heart will surely be defended and this will reflect in your spiritual life.
Watch what you think
What you know is vital but what think is of more benefit. What you think controls your action. Discard every sinful thought, for from out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness.
Every act of sin first comes as a visitor knocking on the door of your heart. Give no entrance to such thoughts and it will flee.
New Heart English Bible says, Guard your heart with all diligence, for out of it is the wellspring of life. Set your heart on the things that exalt God not worldly things.
The scriptures say in James 4 verses 7 and 8,
“Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”
What you think also affects your health. It has been proved times without number that your thoughts are linked to the state of your health. So many have lost their lives not because of their illnesses but because of the way they receive the news from the Doctors.
“A merry heart does good, like medicine, But a broken spirit dries the bones.” (Proverbs 17 verse 22)
The way we think also affects the way we receive news.
Ask the Lord in prayer
When we continually offer our heart to God, He will search it and purge it with his Holy Spirit.
Psalm 139 verses 23 and 24,
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties;
And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting. ”
Ask the Lord in prayer to give you strength to guard your heart.
Four kinds of hearts in the bible
The entire bible mentions different kinds of hearts. The following are the four basic types.
A divided heart holds on to God with one hand and on to the world with the other hand. A man with a divided heart is the one hanging between two opinions.
This kind of attitude was demonstrated by the people of Israel in 1 King 18 verses 20 to 21,
So Ahab sent for all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together on Mount Carmel. And Elijah came to all the people, and said, “How long will you falter between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” But the people answered him not a word.
We also saw this in the book of Mark 6 verse 20 concerning King Herod. Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just and holy man, and he protected him but he yielded to Herodias’s daughter’s request just because of the oaths and because of those who sat with him.
A hardened heart is made up of things against the will of God. A good example is the case of Pharaoh. His heart was hardened despite the warning of plagues sent to him. He refused to let the Israelites go. (Exodus 9 verse 12)
A devoted heart is the one that bears the fruit of the Spirit. It is the heart that is constantly feeding on the word of God and also doing His will.
God is always looking for a man with a devoted heart. David is a perfect example of a man with such a pure heart. God was very pleased with his performance, obedience, and service with integrity, no wonder He chose him as King.
“But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought for Himself a man after His own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be commander over His people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.” (1 Samuel 13 verse 14 )
The heart of man is referred to as a defiled heart. Every believer has something ungodly in us. Ask for the help of God to replace your defiled heart with a pure and clean heart.
“And He said, “What comes out of a man that defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man.” ( Mark 7 verses 20 to 23 )
What is Proverbs 4:23 prayer?
Heavenly Father, Help me to guard my heart and fill it with good things that adore you. Purge me of every filthiness of the flesh and the spirit, this I pray in Jesus’ name.
You cannot achieve God’s plan and purpose for your life without engaging your whole heart. NIV translation of Proverbs 4 verse 23 says “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
Everything you do includes fulfilling the plan and purpose of God. This is why God is interested in our hearts. He said in Ezekiel 36 verse 26,
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
Release yourself onto Him and He shall give you a new heart.