20 My son, be attentive to my words;
incline your ear to my sayings.
21 Let them not escape from your sight;
keep them within your heart.
22 For they are life to those who find them,
and healing to all their flesh.
23 Keep your heart with all vigilance,
for from it flow the springs of life.
24 Put away from you crooked speech,
and put devious talk far from you.
25 Let your eyes look directly forward,
and your gaze be straight before you.
26 Ponder the path of your feet;
then all your ways will be sure.
27 Do not swerve to the right or to the left;
turn your foot away from evil.
Proverbs 4:20-22 is the father again calling for his son to pay attention to his words. Incline your ears to my words, keep them within your heart; they are life and healing. The Father is saying it is vitally important that his son listen to these words of life.
Proverbs 4:23 is the verse that gets lots of attention today. “Keep your heart” or “guard your heart” really doesn’t tell us much if you come to the verse without preconceived ideas. So in order to understand what the verse means we must take the preceding verses and those verses that follow to arrive at the meaning in context. It is particularly the verses that follow that give a broader explanation of Proverbs 4:23.
Proverbs 4:24 Put away from you crooked speech, and put devious talk far from you.
Here we see that we are to put away crooked speech.
12 A worthless person, a wicked man, goes about with crooked speech,
13 winks with his eyes, signals with his feet, points with his finger,
14 with perverted heart devises evil, continually sowing discord;
15 therefore calamity will come upon him suddenly; in a moment he will be broken beyond healing.
A worthless, wicked person uses crooked speech to sow discord and devise evil.
Proverbs 19:1 Better is a poor person who walks in his integrity than one who is crooked in speech and is a fool.
Crooked speech and foolishness go together.
Proverbs 4:25 Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you.
Don’t be casting our eyes around looking to see what everyone else is doing. Don’t let the actions of others pull you from the path.
What are our eyes to be looking to?
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
When we let others or our desires pull our eyes away from Jesus we will stray from the path. I remember ancient years ago when taking ballet that when you did a pirouette you were always to get a fixed focal point in order to keep yourself balanced and on track for each turn. We as believers must always have Jesus as our focal point otherwise we will wobble and fall off track.
Proverbs 4:26 Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure.
The wicked, forbidden woman does not ponder her path and she wanders off but doesn’t even know it.
3 For the lips of a forbidden woman drip honey,
and her speech is smoother than oil,
4 but in the end she is bitter as wormwood,
sharp as a two-edged sword.
5 Her feet go down to death;
her steps follow the path to Sheol;
6 she does not ponder the path of life;
her ways wander, and she does not know it.
It is much easier to wander off the right path than you might think. Sometimes you don’t realize you’ve wandered until you are so far away it is hard to get back on the right path.
Proverbs 4:27 Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil.
More instructions to not swerve off the path. There is evil off both sides of the path and we are to turn away from evil.
Are you keeping your eyes on Jesus and keeping straight to the path?
Guard Your Heart series