Guard Your Heart – Exploring the Passages

Below are some preliminary questions to assist in the study of this passage. For a comprehensive study of the passage, download the Study Guide (PDF download).

1. What does Proverbs 22:5 (printed below) tell us is the benefit of guarding our heart (or, soul?)

Thorns and snares lie in the pathway of the perverse, but he who guards his soul will stay far from them. (Proverbs 22:5)

Proverbs 22:5a warns that the way of the perverse is hard (it encounters “thorns”) and treacherous (it encounters “snares.”) The way of the perverse is filled with dangers to life and soul. Note: “the perverse” are those who are false, deceitful, crooked; those who are not right with God, not in line with His ways; those who have turned away from what is right and good and godly. But, as Proverbs 22:5b informs us, those who guard their heart, or, soul, (i.e.; those who keep diligent watch over the core of their being, the center from which thoughts and conduct emerge) will be kept far from such dangers and perils.

2. According to Proverbs 19:16 (printed below), how does a man preserve his soul?

He who keeps the commandment preserves his soul, but he who is careless about his ways will die. (Proverbs 19:16)

Departure from the fold of God is not always, nor usually, a conscious act of defiant disobedience. More often it is the result of a thoughtless, careless drifting. In contrast to being careless, Proverbs 19:16a exhorts us to “preserve” our soul and to do so by “keeping the commandment;” i.e., we keep our soul by maintaining a conscious commitment to the Word of God.

3. What does Proverbs 15:10 (printed below) tell us lies in store for the man who fails to guard his heart and, consequently, forsakes the way of righteousness?

There is stern discipline in store for him who forsakes the way; and he who hates rebuke will die. (Proverbs 15:10)

What about the man who does not heed the instructions to keep, or guard, his heart, the man who becomes careless with regard to the course and the conduct of his life, the man who “forsakes the way?” The answer: “There is stern discipline” for him. “Discipline” here refers to chastening and correction, and that of a very severe type: “stern,” or, “grievous” (the Hebrew word used here contains the meaning of sorrow and calamity.) But this very discipline/correction is a part of the heavenly Father’s love: its gracious, benevolent intention is to spare the man from hell and turn him back to the course of righteousness and lifeā€”and to do so even if it takes drastic measures to accomplish that good purpose; note the testimony of the Psalmist recorded in Psalm 119:67,75.

4. Consider Proverbs 14:14 (printed below.) What do you think it means that “the backslider in heart will be filled with his own ways?”

The backslider in heart will be filled with his own ways; and a good man will be filled with his ways. (Proverbs 14:14)

The point of Proverbs 14:14a is that sin cultivated in the heart shall finally dominate the life. By way of illustration: a seedling is planted, it germinates, it sprouts roots, and some time later it breaks through the surface of the ground and comes to full fruition. So it is with the sin that is cultivated in the heart, eventually it will dominate the whole life and become evident to all, it cannot remain hidden. A man may depart from God in the secret recesses of his heart, totally unbeknown and undetected by those around him; but in the course of time his life will eventually become filled and dominated by the sinful course first entertained and then pursued by the heart.

5. How would you explain the meaning of Proverbs 27:21 (printed below?)

The crucible is for silver and the furnace for gold, and a man is proved by the things he praises. (Proverbs 27:21)

Silver and gold are proved by the refining fire: when they are exposed to the flames, the dross is consumed and the true metal is revealed. Likewise, a man is tried, or proved, by his praise: what a man praises and values demonstrates where his heart is. The Lord Jesus says in Matthew 6:21, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” A corollary to this is the truth expressed in Proverbs 27:21; what you treasure reveals where your heart is. You can get a pretty accurate assessment of your heart by asking yourself such questions as these: What are the things I praise and admire? What kind of people do I most admire and seek to emulate? About what things do I spend the most time in thought?