We know the heart is the life giving and life sustaining organ in our body. So we use the word “heart” metaphorically for the essence of something; the “heart” of the matter. In this verse we are taught to keep our spiritual “heart.” It reads, “Keep your heart with all vigilance for from it flow the springs of life.” 

Heart, therefore, means the command center of the soul; the mind, will, and affections. It is a high risk, vulnerable place because of sin.  Jeremiah 17 says, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and desperately sick. Who can understand it? I the Lord search the heart, I test the mind.”

The heart is mentioned often in Proverbs. We see expressions such as “The Lord tests the heart, the Lord weighs the heart, the Lord detests a proud heart, the Lord hates a perverse heart,” and many more. In this verse we are instructed to “keep” our heart; meaning watch over, cultivate, and protect it. It is a wise expression to keep in your mind.

In order to keep our heart, we must know the vitality of God’s word. In verse 21, we are reminded of the Lord’s “sayings”; “Keep them within your heart, for they are life to those who find them.” We know that medicine doesn’t help unless we put it in the body, and treasure isn’t any use in the ground; we must dig it up. God’s word must be applied.

We approach God’s word as manna for the soul, the bread of life; the only sustenance in the wilderness. We must keep it, live by it. Those who do not live by Christ’s word do not live at all. In Isaiah 35, the prophet speaks of a blossom appearing in the desert. It is the only sign of life. The blossom is Christ, the bloom of life, and none can see it but the eye of faith.

Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and follow me.” His sheep guard their hearts by the word Christ. He is their light and life. The heart is the citadel of the soul, the fortress where the richest treasure is. The greatest work of God is to win our hearts, and to keep our hearts. We certainly cannot keep our hearts on our own.  God keeps us by his word, he gives us an appetite for it, and nourishment from it.

I saw a documentary on Yellowstone Park. There was a vast meadow coming alive in the spring with all sorts of plants, flowers, berries, grasses, and such. Many varieties of animals came to the field to feast upon the growth. It was pointed out the animals had different tastes, instinctively eating the plants most nutritious for their species. It is good to hunger for God’s word.

When God gives his Spirit to a man, he gives him delight in his word. He tastes and sees that the Lord is good. It not only gives life, it gives refreshment, joy, wonder, contrition, love; all the affections are vitalized. It is life that can never be extinguished. 

In Acts 20 we read about a young man named Eutychus. Paul was teaching the word of the Lord, and he continued on until midnight. Eutychus fell asleep and fell from the window. It was a fall from the 3rd story, and they supposed him dead. But Paul gathered him into his arms and said, “Do not be alarmed for his life is in him.” It was miraculous, and a picture of spiritual reality.

The young man had been filled with the word of the Lord. He was full of life. Anyone who has the word of the Lord in them will live forever. Jesus said, “He who believes in me, though he dies, yet shall he live.” No one who hungers and thirsts after the word of the Lord will perish.

Thomas Case wrote: “There is infinite fullness in Jesus Christ. He is suited to all the needs of poor undone sinners. If we fill ourselves with the world, the less we will delight in Christ. This is our sin and folly. But when God spreads sackcloth on the earthly, we discover the beauty of Christ and can taste his sweetness.

He infinitely transcends all the beauty and glory of the world. He is our King to govern; our Prophet to teach; our Priest to save. How precious! Give me Christ, or else I die!”