Proverbs 23:26
My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe my ways.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(26) My son, give me thine heart.—For that is the one gift alone worthy of acceptance which man can offer to God, and the only one which God will accept; an offering which man endeavours to keep for himself, substituting for it alms, unreal prayers, outward observances of religion, and obedience in matters of little moment. (Comp. Matthew 22:37.)

Proverbs 23:26. My son, give me thy heart — Receive my counsels with thy whole heart; for the heart being esteemed by the ancients the seat of the affections, Solomon may, accordingly, be properly understood as calling upon his disciples to embrace his doctrine and injunctions with the warmest affection, and to reduce them to practice without any reluctance or delay; and let thine eyes observe my ways — Let thy mind seriously and practically consider the ways which I prescribe to thee. Or, rather, God is here speaking by Solomon, and saying to every true child of his, Son, daughter, give me thy heart. Certainly the heart is that which God especially requires, and calls for from every one of us; whatever we give, if we do not give him our hearts, it will not be accepted: he must be the chief object of our love. Our thoughts must dwell upon him; and on him, as our chief good and highest end, our most fervent affections must be placed. We must not think to divide our hearts between him and the world: he will have the whole heart, or no part of it. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart. 23:19-28 The gracious Saviour who purchased pardon and peace for his people, with all the affection of a tender parent, counsels us to hear and be wise, and is ready to guide our hearts in his way. Here we have an earnest call to young people, to attend to the advice of their godly parents. If the heart be guided, the steps will be guided. Buy the truth, and sell it not; be willing to part with any thing for it. Do not part with it for pleasures, honours, riches, or any thing in this world. The heart is what the great God requires. We must not think to divide the heart between God and the world; he will have all or none. Look to the rule of God's word, the conduct of his providence, and the good examples of his people. Particular cautions are given against sins most destructive to wisdom and grace in the soul. It is really a shame to make a god of the belly. Drunkenness stupifies men, and then all goes to ruin. Licentiousness takes away the heart that should be given to God. Take heed of any approaches toward this sin, it is very hard to retreat from it. It bewitches men to their ruin.Observe - Another reading gives, "let thine eyes delight in my ways."26-35. A solemn warning against whoredom and drunkenness (Ho 4:11).

give me—This is the address of that divine wisdom so often presented (Pr 8:1; 9:3, &c.).

heart—confidence.

observe—keep.

my ways—such as I teach you (Pr 3:17; 9:6).

Give me thine heart; receive my counsels with thy whole heart. Solomon speaking in God’s name and cause, requires the heart to be given to him.

Let thine eyes observe, let thy mind seriously and practically consider, my ways; either,

1. The ways in which I have walked, my evil practices; take warning by my sad example. Or,

2. The ways which I prescribe to you; as the apostles called the gospel which they preached their gospel, 1 Thessalonians 1:5 2 Thessalonians 2:8. My son, give me thine heart,.... These words are not the words of Solomon to his son, for a greater than Solomon is here; besides, the claim and possession of the heart do not belong to a creature, but to God; but they are the words of Wisdom, or Christ, to everyone of his sons, the children the Father has given him in covenant; who are adopted through him, regenerated by his Spirit and grace, begotten by his word and ministers as instruments, and born and brought up in his church, and to whom he stands in the relation of the everlasting Father. The heart of a wicked man is little worth, and not worth having; Satan has the possession of it, and fills it, and influences and draws it at his pleasure; the world is set in it, and there is no room for any other; sensual lusts and pleasures, whoredom, wine, and new wine, take away the heart, Hosea 4:11; and it is to those this exhortation is opposed, as appears from the following verses; and the sense is, give not thine heart to women, nor to wine, but to me. Christ should have the hearts and affections of his people, and he only; he is to be loved with the whole heart, sincerely, and above all things else; and it is a good man's heart he desires; a broken and a contrite heart is not despised by him, he binds it up; a heart purified by faith in his blood, a new heart and a new spirit, in which his laws are put and written; a heart to know him, fear him, love him, and believe in him: and as he requites the heart in the exercise of every grace, as faith, fear, and love; so in the performance of, every duty, which, without the heart, is of no avail; as in prayer, singing of praise, and hearing the word, and other religious services. And it is but reasonable service, that Christ should have the hearts of his children, since he stands in such near relations to them; as father, husband, friend, and brother; is all in all unto them; is so lovely a person himself, and has so loved them, and given himself, his life, his blood, his all, for them;

and let thine eyes observe my ways; the ways which Wisdom, or Christ, took in eternity and time, in order to bring about the salvation of his people; his steps in the covenant of grace, as their surety; his coming down from heaven to earth, to do the will of his Father; his going away from hence, by submitting to the accursed death of the cross, thereby making peace and reconciliation for sin; his ascension to heaven, and session at the right hand of God, where he ever lives to intercede for us; the various methods of his grace, in calling and visiting his people, supplying their wants, protecting their persons, and preserving them safe to his kingdom and glory: these should be observed, with attention and wonder, to the encouragement of faith, and for the magnifying of the riches of grace: also the ways which he prescribes and directs his children to walk in; as himself, who is the way to the Father, the way of life and salvation; the way of faith in him, the way of truth concerning hath; the way of holiness and righteousness he leads in; the ways of his commandments; the ways in which he himself walked; all which should be observed by the enlightened eyes of the understanding, and be imitated, and copied after, and walked in; respect should be had unto them all; they should be observed and kept, as they are directed to, and in faith and love, without depending on them. Some render the words, "let thine eyes run through my ways" (f): take a thorough and exact view of them. There is a letter transposed in the word rendered "observe", which occasions a different reading; "as is a man's heart, so are his eyes"; if his heart is to Christ, his eyes will be in his ways; and, where Christ's ways are not observed, the heart is not given to him.

(f) "currant", Mercerus; "currere edomentur", Schultens.

My son, give me {l} thy heart, and let thy eyes observe my ways.

(l) Give yourself wholly to wisdom.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
26. observe] This is the corrected Heb. text to be read. The written text is, delight in, R.V. text.Verses 26-28. - A hexastich, in which Wisdom herself is the speaker, and warns against unchastity. Verse 26. - Give me thine heart. Do not waste thy powers and affections on evil objects, but set thy soul with all its best faculties on me, Wisdom, who alone can satisfy its desires and aspirations. There is an eloquent passage in a tract that has gone by St. Bernard's name, though not written by him ('Epist. de Reg. Vitae Spirit.,' 2:1604, Mab.), which is worth quoting: "Cor nostrum nihil dignius perficere potest, quam ut ei se restituat a quo factum est: et hoc a nobis Dominus expetit dicens, 'Fili, da mihi cor tuum.' Tunc siquidem cor hominum Deo datur, quando omnia cogitatio terminatur in eum, gyrat et circumflectitur super eum, et nihil vult possidere praeter eum. Sicque colligato sibi animo, eum diligit, ut sine ipso amarus sit omnis amor. Nec aliud dixerim cor Domino dare, quam ipsum captivare in omni obsequium ejus, et ita voluntati ejus ex toto supponere, ut nihil aliud velit, quam quod noverit eum velle." Let thine eyes observe my ways; keep closely to the paths of virtue which I teach thee, especially the path of purity, as the next verse shows. Vulgate, Vias meas custodiant; Septuagint, Ἐμὰς ὁδοὺς πήρειτωσαν. This is the reading of the Keri, תִּלֺצרְנָה; the Khetib, which Delitzsch and others prefer, reads תִּרְצֶנָה, "delight in" my ways. Among the virtues which flow from the fear of God, temperance is made prominent, and the warning against excess is introduced by the general exhortation to wisdom:

19 Hear thou, my son, and become wise,

     And direct thy heart straight forward on the way.

20 And be not among wine-drinkers,

     And among those who devour flesh;

21 For the drunkard and glutton become poor,

     And sleepiness clotheth in rags.

The אתּה, connected with שׁמע, imports that the speaker has to do with the hearer altogether by himself, and that the latter may make an exception to the many who do not hear (cf. Job 33:33; Jeremiah 2:31). Regarding אשּׁר, to make to go straight out, vid., at Proverbs 4:14; the Kal, Proverbs 9:6, and also the Piel, Proverbs 4:14, mean to go straight on, and, generally, to go. The way merely, is the one that is right in contrast to the many byways. Fleischer: "the way sensu eximio, as the Oriental mystics called the way to perfection merely (Arab.) âlaṭryḳ; and him who walked therein, âlsâlak, the walker or wanderer."

(Note: Rashi reads בדרך לבך (walk), in the way of thy heart (which has become wise), and so Heidenheim found it in an old MS; but בדרך is equivalent to בדרך בינה, Proverbs 9:6.)

אל־תּתי ב, as at Proverbs 22:26, the "Words of the Wise," are to be compared in point of style. The degenerate and perverse son is more clearly described, Deuteronomy 21:20, as זולל וסבא. These two characteristics the poet distributes between 20a and 20b. סבא means to drink (whence סבא, drink equals wine, Isaiah 1:22) wine or other intoxicating drinks; Arab. sabâ, vinum potandi causa emere. To the יין here added, בּשׂר in the parallel member corresponds, which consequently is not the fleshly body of the gluttons themselves, but the prepared flesh which they consume at their luxurious banquets. The lxx incorrectly as to the word, but not contrary to the sense, "be no wine-bibber, and stretch not thyself after picknicks (συμβολαῖς), and buying in of flesh (κρεῶν τε ἀγορασμοῖς)," whereby זללי is translated in the sense of the Aram. זבני (Lagarde). זלל denotes, intransitively, to be little valued (whence זולל, opp. יקר, Jeremiah 15:19), transitively to value little, and as such to squander, to lavish prodigally; thus: qui prodigi sunt carnis sibi; למו is dat. commodi. Otherwise Gesenius, Fleischer, Umbreit, and Ewald: qui prodigi sunt carnis suae, who destroy their own body; but the parallelism shows that flesh is meant wherewith they feed themselves, not their own flesh (בּשׂר למו, like חמת־למו, Psalm 58:5), which, i.e., its health, they squander. זולל also, in phrase used in Deuteronomy 21:20 (cf. with Hitzig the formula φάγος καὶ οἰνοπότης, Matthew 11:19), denotes not the dissolute person, as the sensualist, πορνοκόπος (lxx), but the συμβολοκόπος (Aquila, Symmachus, Theodotion), κρεωβόρος (Venet.), זלל בּסר (Onkelos), i.e., flesh-eater, ravenous person, glutton, in which sense it is rendered here, by the Syr. and Targ., by אסוט (אסיט), i.e., ἄσωτος. Regarding the metaplastic fut. Niph. יוּרשׁ (lxx πτωχεύσει), vid., at Proverbs 20:13, cf. Proverbs 11:25. נוּמה (after the form of בּוּשׁה, דּוּגה, צוּרה) is drowsiness, lethargy, long sleeping, which necessarily follows a life of riot and revelry. Such a slothful person comes to a bit of bread (Proverbs 21:17); and the disinclination and unfitness for work, resulting from night revelry, brings it about that at last he must clothe himself in miserable rags. The rags are called קרע and ῥάκος, from the rending (tearing), Arab. ruk'at, from the patching, mending. Lagarde, more at large, treats of this word here used for rags.

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