- Take as Directed
- Pay Close Attention
- Bend Your Ear
- Don't Let Them Out of Your Sight
- Keep Them in Your Heart
- Closing Prayer
We have already looked at the first three directions concerning how to receive God's medicine. Now we are coming to the fourth and final instruction about His words and sayings: "Keep them in the midst of thine heart."
This directive is very real to me for two reasons. The first is based on my own experience of being healed through this passage.
The second reason is that for five years I was principal of a college in East Africa which trained African teachers for African schools. Therefore, of course, I had to familiarize myself with some of the principles of teaching. One of the simple principles that we used to try to inculcate knowledge into our students was the principle of what we call the "ear gate" and the "eye gate." When you want to engage a child's total attention, you need to engage every available gate. It is not enough for the child just to hear; the child also needs to see. In fact, we also taught them that a child not only needs to hear and see, but must also become practically involved: hear, see, and do.
It blesses me to see that, in this passage in Proverbs, God anticipated the psychology of modern education theory by about 3,000 years. He said, "Incline thine ear; let them not depart from thine eyes, then they will get into your heart." You see, the purpose of going through the ear gate and the eye gate is to reach that vital, central area of human personality which the Bible calls the heart. When their hearts are reached, students will do what they promise. But if their hearts are not touched, positive results will not be produced.
In order to be effective, some kinds of medicine which you take must be released into the bloodstream. You can take the medicine, but if it does not get to the bloodstream, it is not going to do what it is supposed to do. Well, God's medicine is only effective when it is released in the heart. The previous three directions are all concerned with the medicine getting where it will do what is promised, which is the heart. Then it says, "keep them in the midst of thine heart."
We need to look on to the very next verse of Proverbs which is one of the most profound verses in the Bible:
Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. (Proverbs 4:23 KJV)
The conviction never left me that all the things in life do come out of your heart. In other words, what you have in your heart will determine all that you experience in your life. If you have the right thing in your heart, your life will go right. If you have the wrong thing in your heart, your life will go wrong.
However, it is what is in your heart that determines the course of your life. So God says, "If My medicine and My words and My sayings are going to do what I have promised, they must get into your heart, and you must keep them there. 'Keep them in the midst of thine heart'—not just on the periphery of your heart, but in the middle. Keep them in the central place of your whole life and personality. They are going to affect the whole way that you live."
To conclude this teaching about God's Word being our medicine, I would like to turn to a parallel statement in the New Testament. Hebrews 4:12 speaks about the nature of God's Word and how it acts within us. In order to make it vivid, I am going to quote two translations so we can pick out certain differences between the versions. First is the King James Version:
12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12 KJV)
The New American Standard reads:
12 For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12 NAS)
If you have a disease of the marrow or a disease of the joints, this Scripture says that maybe there's no human medicine or human instrument that can deal with it, but the Word of God can get there. If you have inner personality problems for which the psychiatrist does not have a solution, the Word of God will get there. God's Word penetrates.
What is important is that we take God's Word the way He Himself requires that we take it. We must take it with our undivided attention and with a humble, teachable attitude. We must lay down our barriers of prejudice and preconception and look at it with a single, sincere, wholehearted eye.