The Berean Expositor
Volume 10 - Page 129 of 162
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Passages from Proverbs.
#3. The Guarded Heart.
pp. 23 25
"More than any guard-post, keep watch over thine heart, for out of it are the outgoings
of life" (Prov. 4: 28, Miller's translation).
The marginal reading of Prov. 4: 23, "above all keeping", shows that the translators
realized the intensity of the wording of the original here. There is a prefix M, which
denotes "post" or "place" or "person". Adopting the suggestive translation quoted above,
we render it "guard-post". The idea is this: if one or another out-post should be taken by
a surprise attack, it may be won back again, but if the citadel, the central fort, be taken,
all is lost. The out-posts begin to be enumerated in the verses which follow, "the mouth",
"the lips" (24), "the eyes", "the eyelids" (25), "the path" (26), "the feet" (27).
That our attention may be drawn to these out-posts the scripture brings them before us
in pairs: not only the mouth, but the lips; not only the eyes, but the eyelids; not only the
path, but the feet. Important, however, as they are, we read, "above all keeping" keep the
heart itself. Let us consider the teaching of the word with this thought in mind.
The importance of the hearts rests on the fact that out of it are the issues of life. It is
so physically, and the physical world shadows forth eternal realities:--
"A sound heart is the life of the flesh: but envy the rottenness of the bones"
(Prov. 14: 30).
Not only does soundness of heart mean life to the flesh, but the very countenance is an
index of the heart within:--
"A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance, but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is
broken" (15: 13).
Joys that come from without are illusive, transient and often unreal, the peace and joy
that arise within enable the believer to face the trials and vexations of this wilderness
with smiling face:--
"All the days of the afflicted are evil: but he that is of a merry heart hath a continual
feast" (15: 15).
The "afflicted" are those who among other things are "poor" (14: 21). The merry
heart, however, spreads his table and turns the "evil" into " a continual feast". The word
"evil", while often meaning moral evil or wickedness, many times means a "calamity".
The law of correspondence settles the question for us here, placing "evil" in opposition to
"a continual feast". This rule is to be observed in other passages, particularly in
Isa. 45: 7, where evil is contrasted, not with righteousness or good, but with peace. The
merry heart is such because of the joy of trusting the Lord, and because the love of God