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Bible Commentaries

Expositor's Dictionary of Texts

Proverbs 4

Verses 1-27

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 Scripture Esther, 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 Scripture Esther, 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 Scripture Esther, 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 Scripture Esther, 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 Scripture Esther, Job, Proverbs, etc., p. 136. VIII. 31. G. W. Herbert, Notes of Sermons, p. 252.

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Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Proverbs 4". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/edt/proverbs-4.html. 1910.