The Ways of the Heart and Following Instruction
“My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh. Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. Put away from you crooked speech, and put devious talk far from you. Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure. Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil.” – Proverbs 4:20-27
“May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.” – Psalm 19:14
While we have freedom to speak and say many things, it is important to guard our mouth from speaking harsh words or destructive words. Words have power to help or to cause pain. To strengthen or to diminish. They may not seem like much at first, but words have tremendous influence in our lives and the lives of others. We can choose to edify ourselves and people with the ability to speak positive words of encouragement, or we can cause pain. King Solomon who is noted as the wisest individual in history made it a point to note this multiple times in the Proverbs.
In Proverbs 4, Solomon states that his father, David, instructed him with specific words of wisdom in order to be able to live a life that is good. These words were instructed to be kept in Solomon’s heart. Again, the heart is a place often described as a place that keeps the emotions, beliefs, and the place where most of our actions or speech comes from. When these words are kept and followed, they bring about life and healing. Much needed healing and life that gives renewal is obtained. There is a specific instruction to keep our heart with all vigilance which proves that it may not be an easy task but something that must be done with diligence.
Sometimes interactions may leave us feeling drained or bitter and may cause us to say things that should not be uttered or spoken. We are instructed to “put away from you crooked speech, and put devious talk far from you” as a way to keep our heart with all vigilance. We are instructed to “turn our foot away from evil” meaning changing paths or simply not engaging in a lifestyle that may lead to these paths. If we “look straight ahead” we are looking with clarity and not from a distracted point of view. We are keeping our hearts, words, and thoughts in accord with the sayings of the word of wisdom from which “flow the springs of life”.