The Secret of Keeping Words

Heather K. Duff
Oct 9 · 3 min read
Photo by Michael Dziedzic on Unsplash

Daily Wise: Do not let them (words of wisdom) depart from your sight; Keep them in the midst of your heart.Proverbs 4:21 NASB

Merriam-Webster Definition of KEEP: 2) to take notice of by appropriate conduct : FULFILL: such as (a) to be faithful to; (b) to act fittingly in relation to; (c) to conform to in habits or conduct; (d) to stay in accord with (a beat)


A Cherished Thing…

Many years ago, I gave my mother a small sapphire and diamond ring for Christmas. It wasn’t expensive, as genuine jewelry goes, but it was more than I could afford. I was so excited to see her reaction when she opened the small box that day.

My mother passed away 11 years ago and I don’t remember her reaction on that Christmas day. I had anticipated it greatly. And I can’t now remember it.

What I do remember is seeing it on her hand every day. For years and years. It was something she cherished, and that delighted me so much more than a single moment’s reaction.

When my mother died, the ring, of course, came back to me. I haven’t thought much about it, but when I was mulling over what to say today, I remembered the ring.

It’s something I cherish.

But I’ve been doing it wrong.

How We Treat Valuable Treasures

There are three instructive Hebrew words in this proverb today, transliterated as

  • shamar — keep
  • tavek — in the midst
  • lebab — heart

When presented with something of value, our first decision is whether to keep it or let it go. (Shamar.)

If we let it go, it’s gone. We’ve lost it.

If we keep it, our next decision is Where? (Lebab.)

And finally, we must decide How we will keep it. (Tavek.)

My mother’s ring is something I value. In my desire to keep it secure, I hid it away. I did this because it was something “in the midst of my heart.” I cherished it. I didn’t want to lose it, or have it stolen, so I put it away for “safe” keeping.

But am I really keeping it?

When I gave it to my mother, she wore it every day. It was always with her. She understood how to keep this valuable gift. But I have “put it away.” It is not before me always. I don’t see it every day. I don’t look at it and remember her and how she loved me and showed me that love by wearing this little gift I’d given her.

We can do the same thing with precious words of wisdom.

Instead of keeping them, we can let them go.

If we do keep them, we can keep them in a book tucked away on a shelf. Or, we can keep them in our hearts (lebab). In the midst of (tavek) our hearts (lebab).

We can’t put them away in a “safe place” and think we’re really keeping them. But to be a keeper of precious words is to see them, to remember them, to observe them. To be faithful to them, to be in agreement with them, and to conform to them.

Oh, do not let them depart from your sight; Keep them in the midst of your heart.

Wear them like a cherished ring. And remember.


Learn more about my books and podcast at heatherkduff.com.

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