Proverbs 4
Expositor's Dictionary of Texts
Hear, ye children, the instruction of a father, and attend to know understanding.
Proverbs 4:5-7

I mean to follow Solomon's directions, 'get learning, get understanding'. I find earlier days are gone by—I find that I can have no enjoyment in the world but continual drinking of knowledge.

—Keats to John Taylor (1818).

References.—IV. 7.—J. T. Bramston, Sermons to Boys, p. 152. A. E. Dunning, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xlviii. 1895, p. 12. U. Thomas, Ibid. vol. liii. 1898, p. 163. IV. 10, 11.—W. Arnot, Laws from Heaven for Life on Earth, p. 117. 10-19.—A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy ScriptureEsther, IV. Job, Proverbs, etc., p. 96. IV. 12.—Ibid. p. 101. IV. 13.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxiv. No. 1418. J. S. Maver, Christian World Pulpit, vol. liii. 1898, p. 318. W. Arnot, Laws from Heaven for Life on Earth, p. 119. IV. 14, 15.—F. W. Farrar, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xlvii. p. 344. "Plain Sermons" by contributors to the Tracts for the Times, vol. v. p. 208. IV. 18.—Ibid. vol. ii. p. 141. G. Body, The Life of Justification, p. 175. J. Hamilton, Faith in God, p. 324. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy ScriptureEsther, Job, Proverbs, etc., p. 108. IV. 18,19.—W. Arnot, Laws from Heaven for Life on Earth, p. 121. IV. 23.—Spurgeon Sermons, vol. iv. No. 179. J. Thain Davidson, The City Youth, p. 213. W. G. Elmslie, British Weekly Pulpit, vol. ii. p. 465. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy ScriptureEsther, Job, Proverbs, etc., p. 116. E. Meyrick Goulburn, Three Counsels of the Divine Master, vol. i. p. 245. H. Harris, Short Sermons, vol. i. p. 202. "Plain Sermons" by contributors to the Tracts for the Times, vol. ix. p. 324. IV. 23-27.—W. Arnot, Laws from Heaven for Life on Earth, p. 124.

The Keeping of the Heart

Proverbs 4:23

I. How is this law of life to be obeyed? How is the heart to be kept?

If we are going to keep our hearts we must have disciplined imaginations. The relation between the two is of the most intimate nature. Now what is the work of the imagination? The imagination does this. It takes of abstract things and presents them in concrete forms to the heart. It takes of ideas and turns them into pictures; and by presenting these ideas like pictures or images to the heart, it provokes in the heart certain feelings. If the pictures appeal to fear, they produce in the heart the spirit of revulsion. If the pictures appeal to that which the heart delights in, it appeals in the form of attractions.

A disciplined imagination is the condition of a heart rightly regulated and of a life rightly shaped.

II. I believe myself that it is impossible to explain the phenomenon of our spiritual lives unless you recognize the fact that there is an organized power of evil that acts upon us from without. Whatever theological difficulties there may be in apprehending this truth I could not explain the facts of my own spiritual experience unless I knew there was some power without me that had power to stir thought within me; because continually these things that come to my imagination and propose themselves to my heart have not been self-sought, they have come upon me entirely without my own will; it is as if I had been walking in a road, and a pistol shot comes to me and I feel its effect immediately within; immediately the imagination is stirred into such activity with such persistency, with such fascination, that which whilst to my highest self it is a positive agony, it is yet to my lower nature a positive thing of delight.

III. I must, in some way or another, get master of my imagination; and as I beat down my body into subjection I must bring my imagination into subjection. How are you going to do it?

1.  Pray about it.

2.  Take care what you read.

3.  Do everything that you can that will supply to the imagination wholesome food.

There is only one way of really getting the peace of the imagination; and that is by living with the eyes of the imagination continually gazing upon the vision of the beautiful.

—G. Body, Christian World Pulpit, vol. LXXIII. 1908, p. 196.

Proverbs 4:23

Ruskin says: 'For all of us, the question is not at all to ascertain how much or how little corruption there is in human nature; but to ascertain whether, out of all the mass of that nature, we are of the sheep or the goat breed; whether we are people of upright heart, being shot at, or people of crooked heart, shooting. And, of all the texts bearing on the subject, this, which is a quite simple and practical order, is the one you have chiefly to hold in mind. "Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life."'

Ethics of the Dust, p. 101.

References.—IV. 25.—B. Wilberforce, The Hope that is in Me, p. 39. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxiv. No. 2058. IV. 26.—R. Flint, Sermons and Addresses, p. 67. H. Davenport, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lxiv. 1903, p. 374. V. 11.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xi. No. 667. V. 11-13.—H. Ward Beecher, Sermons (4th Series), p. 481. V. 15.—W. Arnot, Laws from Heaven for Life on Earth, p. 130. V. 21, 22.—Ibid. p. 134. V. 22.—Jesse Brett, The Soul's Escape, p. 33. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy ScriptureEsther, Job, Proverbs, etc., p. 123. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xvi. No. 915. VI. 6.—E. Fowle, Plain Preaching to Poor People (1st Series), p. 15. VI. 16-19.—W. Arnot, Laws from Heaven for Life on Earth, p. 136. VI. 20-23.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xli. No. 2406; see also Twelve Sermons to Young Men, p. 145. VI. 20-24.—W. Arnot, Laws from Heaven for Life on Earth, p. 138. VI. 22.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xvii. No. 1017. VII. 6.—J. Thain Davidson, The City Youth, p. 3. VIII. 1, 14, 22, 23, 29, 30.—W. Alexander, The Great Question, p. 3. VIII. 10, 13.—W. Arnot, Laws from Heaven for Life on Earth, p. 143. VIII. 14.—W. Alexander, The Great Question, p. 46. VIII. 15.—E. W. Bullinger, By Me Kings Reign, Sermon. J. Andrew, The Dundee Pulpit, 1872, p. 169. VIII. 17.—A. G. Deedes, Church Times, 1900, vol. xliv. p. 103. VIII. 18.—C. Silvester Horne, Christian World Pulpit, vol. li. 1897, p. 406. VIII. 18, 21.—W. Arnot, Laws from Heaven for Life on Earth, p. 146. VIII. 21.—A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture—Esther, Job, Proverbs, etc., p. 130. VIII. 22-31.—W. Arnot, Laws from Heaven for Life on Earth, p. 148. VIII. 30, 31.—A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy ScriptureEsther, Job, Proverbs, etc., p. 136. VIII. 31.—G. W. Herbert, Notes of Sermons, p. 252.

For I give you good doctrine, forsake ye not my law.
For I was my father's son, tender and only beloved in the sight of my mother.
He taught me also, and said unto me, Let thine heart retain my words: keep my commandments, and live.
Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth.
Forsake her not, and she shall preserve thee: love her, and she shall keep thee.
Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.
Exalt her, and she shall promote thee: she shall bring thee to honour, when thou dost embrace her.
She shall give to thine head an ornament of grace: a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee.
Hear, O my son, and receive my sayings; and the years of thy life shall be many.
I have taught thee in the way of wisdom; I have led thee in right paths.
When thou goest, thy steps shall not be straitened; and when thou runnest, thou shalt not stumble.
Take fast hold of instruction; let her not go: keep her; for she is thy life.
Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men.
Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away.
For they sleep not, except they have done mischief; and their sleep is taken away, unless they cause some to fall.
For they eat the bread of wickedness, and drink the wine of violence.
But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.
The way of the wicked is as darkness: they know not at what they stumble.
My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings.
Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart.
For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh.
Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.
Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee.
Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee.
Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established.
Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.
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