Safeguarding the Heart with Wisdom
1. In this modern day what is it important to guard both physically and spiritually?
IN THIS modern day, in spite of all medical research and advances, the diseases of the heart are the greatest killer. Under right conditions the heart could pump on forever, sending out the life-sustaining blood stream to the body. Not only in a physical way but more in a spiritual sense it is highly important to guard the heart and to keep it in good condition to perform its function.
2. (a) In what way did Solomon not guard his heart, keeping it turned exclusively to Jehovah as God? (b) With all of what are we advised to love God, thus requiring us to do what to it?
2 In Proverbs Solomon had much to say about the heart in both a spiritual and a physical way, mentioning it, in fact, ninety-four times in thirty-one chapters. King Solomon did not guard his own heart, spiritually speaking. He disregarded his own advice: “My son, to my words do pay attention. To my sayings incline your ear. May they not get away from your eyes. Keep them in the midst of your heart. For they are life to those finding them and health to all their flesh. More than all else that is to be guarded, safeguard your heart, for out of it are the sources of life.” (Prov. 4:20-23) King Solomon did not keep his affections fixed upon Jehovah as the only worshipful God. He lost sight of the fact that the Creator is a God exacting exclusive devotion. So Solomon did not keep his heart turned exclusively to Jehovah as God, for the heart is the seat of affections. The object of our affections is therefore very important. With all our heart we are commanded to love Jehovah as God, for he is the only God from everlasting to everlasting and he has no grounds to tolerate any rivalry in a creature’s affections toward him. (Ex. 20:4, 5) As for our neighbors, we may and must love them as we do ourselves, but we must never make a god out of our neighbor or anyone else. To bestow our love upon a rival god or deity means death for us as souls at Jehovah’s hand. Since he is the Fountain of life, how important it is, then, that we safeguard our hearts above all else that is to be guarded!
3. (a) What does loving our souls mean? (b) What does the expression “acquiring heart” mean, and hence what should we look to discern, that we may find good?
3 Proverbs 19:8 speaks of life as soul when it says: “He that is acquiring heart is loving his own soul. He that is guarding discernment is going to find good.” Loving our own souls means our wanting to live in happiness forever. It means our showing our love for our lives now and especially in God’s new world. But for keeping our souls alive now we already have a heart. What, then, does the expression “acquiring heart” mean? Here “heart,” as shown in the lower margin of the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, has the meaning of “good motive,” for the heart is the seat not only of affection but of motive. Affection moves one to action. Since it is a proverb that “foolishness is tied up with the heart of a boy,” we can see that, from early on, the heart of mankind is disposed to go wrong and to have bad promptings according to the misplacement of its affections. So it becomes necessary for us to set our affections on noble, lofty, kindly, godly things, to the end that our motives may be pure, good and unselfish. If we do this, then we are really loving our own souls, our own selves; for God, who discerns and judges the heart, will see that our hearts are good, loving and anxious to please him and he will make his provisions for our everlasting life available to us. Hence we should be careful to discern what the motives of our hearts are and to see to it that they are right and good and acceptable to God. Then we are sure to find good at his hand.
4. At Proverbs 23:26 what does the instructor mean by asking the son to give him his heart and let his eyes take pleasure in the instructor’s ways?
4 At Proverbs 23:26 the wise man says to the one to whom he gives instruction: “My son, do give your heart to me and may those eyes of yours take pleasure in my own ways.” Is this an invitation to the reader of Proverbs to make a complete dedication of himself to Jehovah God? No, this is an invitation, an exhortation, to the person under instruction to pay attention to his instructor with all his heart, to put his whole heart into listening and learning what his instructor has to teach him. He must set his affection upon the instruction that his fatherlike instructor imparts to him. His heart, as well as his eyes, must be toward his instructor. His eyes must take pleasure in the ways that his instructor takes, so that he desires to copy his instructor and go in his ways. Besides that, his heart must be fully absorbed in his instructor so as to love him and take seriously what his instructor says and advises, especially in the matter that the instructor is now about to discuss. It deserves the most serious consideration, undivided attention, deepest appreciation. What?
5. What is it in Proverbs 23:27-35 that the instructor wants the sonlike pupil to give undivided attention to?
5 The matter of eating and of drinking alcoholic drinks and of clean morals. That is why the instructor goes on to say to his sonlike pupil: “For a prostitute is a deep pit and a foreign woman [who lives by prostitution] is a narrow well. Surely she, just like a robber, lies in wait; and among men she increases the treacherous ones. Who has woe? Who has uneasiness? Who has contentions? Who has concern? Who has wounds for no reason? Who has dullness of eyes? Those staying a long time with the wine, those coming in to search out mixed wine.” Who wants to step unexpectedly into a deep pit? Who wants to fall to his hurt into a narrow well from which he cannot get out? Then do not yield to the persuasions of an immoral woman, a prostitute who is foreign to God’s “holy nation” and who will rob you of your virtue, your virginity, your clean record, your good conscience, your innocence and your worthiness of having fellowship with Jehovah’s holy congregation. Also, who wants to become the victim of a bottle or of a cup of alcoholic drink? Who wants to see unreal things and speak twisted talk? Who wants to be unsteady in going, as a sailor on a mast top in the heart of a heaving sea? Who wants to become insensible to how others mishandle one, to have a long time in getting awake to one’s senses and to keep seeking to satisfy an overwhelming craving? Then do not linger long at alcoholics to the point of taking overmuch, intemperately. Practice self-control.—Prov. 23:27-35.
6. How is it that one committing adultery with a woman is in want of heart, and what are the consequences to him in the congregation?
6 Anyone committing adultery does not have a good motive toward God or the one with whom the immorality is committed: “Anyone committing adultery with a woman is in want of heart; he that does it is bringing his own soul to ruin. A plague and dishonor he will find, and his reproach itself will not be blotted out.” (Prov. 6:32, 33) Besides bringing reproach on himself, he brings reproach on God’s congregation and must therefore be expelled, be disfellowshiped. Even if he is reinstated after repenting and reforming, the bad record clings to him and stands against him as an unworthy example to God’s flock. Anyone bent on committing fornication or having relations with a prostitute has no good motive. So he brings himself near to an immoral person designedly, with one thing in mind, and he is agreeable to being seduced.
7. What case of this does King Solomon describe for us as he saw it from his window?
7 Watchful King Solomon describes a case he saw from his window: “I was interested in discerning among the sons a young man in want of heart, passing along on the street near her corner, and in the way to her house he marches, . . . And look! there was a woman to meet him, with the garment of a prostitute and cunning of heart.” (Prov. 7:6-10) The immoral woman senses that the man putting himself in her way and exposing himself to temptation by her has no good motive. “And she has seated herself at the entrance of her house, upon a seat, [in] the high places of the town, to call out to those passing along the way, those who are going straight ahead on their paths: ‘Whoever is inexperienced, let him turn aside here, and whoever is in want of heart.’”—Prov. 9:14-16.
8. (a) What is the right course, then to take to our real instructor? (b) Not only does the immoral woman, but who else calls out to those in want of heart, and why should we feast with this one?
8 The wise course to take, then, is to give one’s heart to one’s instructor, who warns us about these vital matters. Our great instructor is Jehovah God, and we should give heed to what he says with all our heart and with the full attention of our eyes. Not only does an immoral woman call out to those in want of heart or good motive, but the wisdom that Jehovah gives also calls out to such, that they may acquire a good motive, a good motivating force. True wisdom from God has prepared a feast for those who listen to her. True wisdom “has sent forth its lady attendants, that it may call out on top of the heights of the town: ‘Whoever is inexperienced, let him turn aside here. Whoever is in want of heart, I want to speak to him. Come, feed yourselves with my bread and drink in from the wine that I have mixed. Leave the inexperienced ones and keep living, and walk straight in the way of understanding.’” (Prov. 9:1-6) Feasting with wisdom from God leaves no hurt, no reproach, no regrets, but only one’s improvement and the establishment of right motives in the heart. Let us in humility take wisdom’s discipline and thus reject death but choose life in honor and happiness. “Anyone shunning discipline is rejecting his own soul, but the one listening to reproof is acquiring heart. The fear of Jehovah is a discipline toward wisdom, and before glory there is humility.”—Prov. 15:32, 33.
HOW WISDOM TODAY CALLS US
9, 10. (a) What things are required for living now and in the future, and so what does Jehovah cause to cry out? (b) As set out in Proverbs 1:20-33, what is it that this one cries out?
9 It requires knowledge and wisdom and understanding to live nowadays and in the future. No one knows this better than Jehovah God, who foresaw and who foretold this modern day. Therefore as never before he now causes his wisdom to cry out and give warning: “True wisdom itself keeps crying aloud in the very street. In the public squares it keeps giving forth its voice. At the upper end of the noisy streets it calls out. At the entrances of the gates into the city it says its own sayings:
10 “How long will you inexperienced ones keep loving inexperience, and must you ridiculers desire for yourselves outright ridicule, and will you stupid ones keep hating knowledge? Turn back at my reproof. Then to you I will cause my spirit to bubble forth; I will make my words known to you. Because I have called out but you keep refusing, I have stretched out my hand but there is no one paying attention, and you keep neglecting all my counsel, and my reproof you have not accepted, I also, for my part, shall laugh at your own disaster, I shall mock when what you dread comes, when what you dread comes just like a storm, and your own disaster gets here just like a stormwind, when distress and hard times come upon you. At that time they will keep calling me but I shall not answer, they will keep looking for me but they will not find me, for the reason that they hated knowledge, and the fear of Jehovah they did not choose. They did not consent to my counsel; they disrespected all my reproof. So they will eat from the fruitage of their way, and they will be filled full from their own counsels. For the apostasy of the inexperienced ones is what will kill them, and the easygoingness of the stupid is what will destroy them. As for the one listening to me, he will reside in security and be undisturbed from dread of calamity.”—Prov. 1:20-33.
11. What do men today fear, but what does the wisdom of God know is coming upon them?
11 Today men dread a world catastrophe, one brought by their own hands in the use of all the modern means of warfare. Jesus’ prophecy foretelling the evidences that we have entered into the “time of the end” of this world described the fear-stricken condition today: “Men become faint out of fear and expectation of the things coming upon the inhabited earth.” (Luke 21:25, 26) The wisdom of God, however, knows that the world catastrophe will come, not by the mere destructive hand of man and devils, but by the righteous warfare of the Almighty God against Satan’s world organization in heaven and on earth, and that it will be far worse than the hearts of panicky men can imagine.
12. Where today does God’s wisdom cry out, and how does it do so?
12 Therefore God’s wisdom, in expression of his loving mercy, cries out now, before it is too late, taking its position where it can encounter people, many people, to give the most extensive warning—on street pavements, in public squares, at the intersections of busy thoroughfares, at the entranceways to all the modern facilities of the cities. How does this divine quality of wisdom, the wisdom of God, do this? By its being embodied in those who have dedicated themselves to the Most High God, Jehovah, and who have gained a knowledge of him and his purposes, and who have become filled with his wisdom, acting according to the counsel of his Word and his organized people. They have copied Jesus Christ, who is God’s wisdom personified, and they have gone forth and continue to go forth to preach God’s written message “publicly and from house to house.” (Acts 20:20) They have not confined their worship of Jehovah God merely to meeting together in their Kingdom Halls. They have gone forth from these service centers with a message on their lips and with the printed message in their hands. They have sought to reach the people in their homes and on the streets and places of public concourse. Fearlessly they have lifted up their voices and stretched out their hands with Kingdom literature, inviting the people to the spiritual feast and warning them to flee to the only place of refuge from the onrushing storm of universal war, Armageddon.
13. Who have responded to wisdom’s intensifying cry, but what course do the majority of earth’s inhabitants take?
13 Since 1919, when Jehovah’s witnesses recovered from the disorganizing effects of the first world war, God’s wisdom expressing itself through them has been making itself heard through more and more proclaimers of God’s kingdom and of the day of his vengeance, in more and more lands and with increasing intensity and deepening penetration among the people. Hundreds of thousands have responded, and wisdom’s spirit has bubbled forth to them to make God’s Word known to them and to enliven them to become sharers in the further proclamation of his Word. But the majority of earth’s inhabitants have kept refusing to listen and to accept wisdom’s helping hand. Already sore distress and increasingly hard times have come upon them. They cry out for wisdom to deal with the worsening situation, but God’s wisdom refuses to make any compromise with the wisdom of this world. They scoff at the warning that Armageddon is God’s war and thus show no fear of Jehovah, which is the beginning of knowledge and wisdom. Inexperienced with all the destructive judgments described in the Holy Scriptures, and stupidly going on like unreasoning beasts in their easygoing way, they refuse to let their wisdom of this world yield to the wisdom of God and to follow his counsel. They fall away, apostatize, farther and farther from God.
14. What will this course do to these, what will wisdom have its turn at doing, and what proverbs will be fulfilled upon them?
14 This course will suddenly kill them, yes, destroy them beyond any hope or opportunity of a resurrection from the dead under God’s kingdom. When God’s war does burst out upon them with a thieflike suddenness and they see their end speeding toward them from God’s righteous hand, they will cry out. But wisdom will have its turn at laughing at them and mocking at them, and they are then forced to realize that they have not been so smart after all but have proved themselves to be stupid fools. On them will be fulfilled the proverbs: “The treasures of the wicked one will be of no benefit, but righteousness is what will deliver from death. The thing frightful to the wicked one—that is what will come to him, but the desire of the righteous ones will be granted. As when the stormwind passes over, so the wicked one is no more, . . . As for the righteous one, to time indefinite he will not be caused to stagger, but as for the wicked ones, they will not keep residing on the earth.” (Prov. 10:2, 24, 25, 30) “The horse is something prepared for the day of battle, but salvation belongs to Jehovah.” (Prov. 21:31) “Valuable things will be of no benefit on the day of fury, but righteousness itself will deliver from death.” (Prov. 11:4) “The house of wicked people will be annihilated, but the tent of the upright ones will flourish.”—Prov. 14:11.
15. Particularly since 1925, toward whom have we realized our responsibility, and so how have we shown that we must obey Proverbs 24:11, 12?
15 Particularly since the witnesses of Jehovah discerned in 1925 that the battle of Armageddon is not a period of international anarchy on earth but is Jehovah’s war against Satan’s entire organization, demonic and human, we have realized our great responsibility respecting mankind who are threatened with everlasting destruction in that universal war. By conscientiously proclaiming God’s message, even in the face of world-wide hatred and persecution, we must obey Proverbs 24:11, 12: “Deliver those who are being taken away to death and those staggering to the slaughter, if you would be spared. In case you should say: ‘Look! we did not know this one,’ will not he himself that is estimating hearts discern it and he himself that is observing your soul know and certainly pay back to earthling man according to his activity?” In appreciation of our being made his watchmen, we must cry out from the watchtower or preach from the housetops, as it were, for we do not want the blood of those destroyed at Armageddon to be charged to our timid negligence and our selfish indifference. (Ezek. 33:1-7; Matt. 10:26, 27) The anointed remnant of Christ’s followers, the “faithful and discreet slave” class, have broadened out from thinking of only their own salvation to heaven. They have taken notice of the “great crowd” of the Right Shepherd’s “other sheep” and have interested themselves in their being spared through Armageddon into God’s new world.
16. What have the other sheep already gathered done, in their turn, and thus what have they themselves become?
16 In their turn, those “other sheep” already gathered by the Right Shepherd have interested themselves in the salvation of still other sheep yet lost and straying and have joined in the hunting and gathering work with the anointed remnant. They too have become witnesses of Jehovah, well knowing the proverb Pr (14:25): “A true witness is delivering souls, but a deceitful one launches forth mere lies.” So they preach God’s truth regardless of how the deceivers in Christendom may complain and oppose.
17. What does our cultivating of the field of humanity spiritually result in, and thus what do we all enjoy together?
17 This effort to help save others results in our own salvation. Our cultivating of the field of humanity results in a gratifying, rewarding crop of saved ones: “The one cultivating his ground will himself be satisfied with bread, but the one pursuing valueless things is in want of heart [good motive].” (Prov. 12:11, margin) “Plowed ground of persons of little means [yields] a great deal of food, but there exists the one that is swept away for lack of judgment.” (Prov. 13:23) “By every kind of toil there comes to be an advantage, but merely the word of the lips [tends] to want.” (Prov. 14:23) There must be toil and not mere words. (Prov. 3:27, 28) We must go forth to the people and invite them to the water of life and offer to them spiritual food: “The generous soul will itself be made fat, and the one freely watering [others] will himself also be freely watered. The one holding back grain—the populace will execrate him, but there is a blessing for the head of the one letting it be bought.” So we must continue letting people have the printed message on a contribution by them, that more literature may be published and scattered to still others. (Prov. 11:25, 26) Thus we all feast together now with wisdom in order to “keep living.”—Prov. 9:1-6.
18. What will survive the battle of Armageddon, and so what is it advisable now to get, and why?
18 Divine wisdom will survive the battle of Armageddon. Those who now get wisdom before Armageddon and are guided by it with understanding will likewise survive and be privileged to use wisdom in Jehovah’s new world. “For the upright are the ones that will reside in the earth, and the blameless are the ones that will be left over in it. As regards the wicked, they will be cut off from the very earth; and as for the treacherous, they will be torn away from it.” (Prov. 2:21, 22) How advisable it is now to get wisdom! “Happy is the man that is listening to me by keeping awake at my doors day by day, by watching at the posts of my entrances. For the one finding me will certainly find life, and gets good will from Jehovah.”—Prov. 8:34, 35.