by Coye Bouyer
WHAT THE GUARD…
Proverbs 4:23 says, “watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.” The father says to his son, ‘Watch over your heart…’ The Hebrew word used here for the phrase ‘watch over,’ is ‘noser’ and literally means ‘to watch,’ ‘to guard’ or ‘to keep.’ This is important because unlike guarding material things like possessions, people or places, the son is to guard… ‘his heart.’
While the Hebrew word ‘lev’ does refer to one’s actual heart, abstractly it also refers to one’s inner self, one’s will, understanding or even one’s mind. In Solomon’s day, much like today, the heart and mind were seen as synonymous or interchangeable. Therefore, the son is being told to guard both his heart and mind.
HOW TO GUARD…
The Hebrew word used here for the phrase ‘with all diligence,’ is ‘misar,’ meaning ‘to pay careful attention to.’ Another example is Adam being told that he is responsible to protect or ‘guard’ the Garden. The concept of guarding in the present context of Proverbs 4 carries the understanding of guarding or protecting someone/thing from an external enemy. Here in Proverbs 4:23 the father is challenging his son to ‘guard’ or to ‘protect,’ with a careful conviction, a deliberate diligence of something internally, i.e. ‘his heart,’ from an external enemy.
To better understand the significant weight of his father’s instructions, we must recognize the father’s previous instructions with regards to the path of both the wicked and the righteous. He has said that if his son wants to live he will not only hear, but he will hang onto and even heed his father’s wisdom. So, when the father says, ‘guard your heart… ‘, his son is not just guarding his heart from the attack of an enemy or from someone/something physically puncturing or hurting his heart, rather he is to guard the good and godly guidance/counsel given to him by his father (v. 3). For his father knows that just as he has deposited godly guidance into the heart of his son, there are those who will seek to somehow supplant the father’s Godly guidance and right thinking for ungodliness and wrong thinking.
Therefore, his son must be intentionally insistent on holding/guarding his father’s wisdom for while information may come from outside sources, only what takes root in the heart of an individual flows from them to the rest of their world (for from it, that is one’s heart, flows the springs of life).
Dad’s, as we prepare to celebrate another Father’s Day with our children, let us take a moment to remind them of the good and godly wisdom we have imparted to them as we encourage them like this father, hear, hold onto, and heed the godliness, faithfulness and wisdom we have taught them so that this is what flow from their lives into the rest of the world. God Bless you men!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Pastor Coye L. Bouyer is the founding pastor of Kingdom Life Church in Lansing, MI where he has served since March of 2010. Pastor Bouyer recently stepped into the Diversity Ambassador role for the BSCM and firmly believes that he was not only called to Preach the Gospel as part of the process of reconciliation of man to God, but also using any platform as a bridge of reconciliation of man to man, and even more so amongst the brethren. Pastor Bouyer and his lovely wife Keturah (Gen. 25:1) have been married four over 20 years and have four children; Sierra, Seth, Cayla and Coye II.