Read these words from Proverb 22 and imagine that it is God Himself saying them to you (…because He is):
“Incline your ear and hear the words of the wise, and apply your heart to my knowledge; for it is a pleasant thing if you keep them within you; let them all be fixed upon your lips so that your trust may be in the LORD; I have instructed you today, even you." (Proverb 22:17-19)
The term “incline your ear” is like saying “cup your hand around your ear so that you can hear well.”
God doesn’t want us to miss what was about to be said.
The next thing He says is really three things: “HEAR the words of the wise, and APPLY YOUR HEART to my knowledge; for it is a pleasant thing if you KEEP THEM WITHIN YOU.”
“Hear the words” means to “listen to the words intelligently”. In other words, we are to THINK about them. Feeling things is not a bad thing but it is NOT evident that Holy Spirit is in operation.
Feelings are just feelings.
THINKING, however, allows us to KNOW. “THINKING” is what the term “apply your heart to my knowledge” means. (Let’s not miss that it is God Who is saying that we are to “hear the words of the wise” and then HE says that this is HIS knowledge. Yes, God works through godly wisdom.)
Merely having knowledge come into our hearts and then move right on out of our hearts only gives us a transitory experience with God.
(It’s how most “consumer Christians” live today – having some experiences at a series of events, allowing what happened at those events to drain away and then hurrying back for the next event to be “re-filled – only to repeat over and over.)
In GREAT contrast to this all too common situation, God says that “for it is a pleasant (delightful) thing if you KEEP THEM (the words of the wise) WITHIN YOU”.
The term “keep them within you” means to “guard well with a thorny hedge.”
God says that “it is a pleasant thing if you keep them (the words of the wise) within you; let them all be fixed upon your lips…” In the original test the last part of that sentence really reads more like it is rendered in the NASB: “(so) that they may be ready on your lips.”
He is telling us that He wants us to so treasure the knowledge HE provides us through the words of the wise that we guard them in our hearts BECAUSE He knows that when we do this, we tend to speak God’s knowledge in our lives.
Then, God sums up why He wants us to “HEAR the words of the wise, APPLY our hearts to His knowledge, and KEEP THEM within us”:
“so that your trust may be in the LORD; I have instructed you today, even you. (Proverb 22:19)
God wants our TRUST to be in Him….not in any man-made or earthly thing (including ourselves.)
That word “trust” means “refuge” and it has to do with the security and confidence we can have when we live in a truly safe place.
The ONLY truly safe place is Jesus.
"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!” (Matthew 23:37)
For years and years God sent His wise ones to speak HIS knowledge to them. Jerusalem stoned and killed them. After all that rejection, He STILL longed to gather them under His arms….to be their Refuge….their Trust.
May we heed today’s Proverb. May we receive God’s knowledge through the ones He chooses to speak His words to us.
May we not consider them to be “little gods”; rather, to consider them to be messengers from the King.
May we “HEAR the words of the wise, APPLY our hearts to God’s knowledge, and KEEP THEM within us”.
May God’s words flow off our lips as we remain secure and confident in His Trust and may this lost world benefit from Immanuel, God with and in us (Matthew 1:23).