It was a creek much like you see in our area—forty feet wide and about twenty feet deep. Matawan Creek had many swimming holes where a group of boys could splash away the sweltering summer days. Eleven-year-old Lester Stillwell being the first one in the water on a sunny July afternoon in 1916 called out to the shore for his buddies to watch him float. Within moments the serene moment was shredded with terror. Confused and hungry, a shark latched onto Lester’s arm, thrashed around, and plunged into the foaming waters. Lester’s friends ran panicked to town screaming, “A shark got Lester!” Stanley Fisher, a young athletic man, rushed to the creek. While attempting to rescue Lester, the shark bit an enormous chunk out of his leg. In a handful of minutes, the quaint town several miles from the ocean sunk in despair. Who would have ever imagined a shark attack here?

One of the accounts of this story tells about the prevailing assumptions during this time. A shark attacking people? Absurd! Yet, in a matter of two weeks, several people were attacked which provoked scientists to reconsider. Presently, every summer you will hear warnings about sharks at the beach, “Keep an eye out!”

Solomon’s wisdom for his son sounds similar although he isn’t warning him about sharks. He tells his son, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; For out of it are the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23). Keep means to guard, to watch. Beware of anything suspicious which might drag you down.

Look out for anger!
Watch out for lust!
Beware of bitterness!

He insists you should not enter “the path of the wicked.” Instead, “Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away” (Proverbs 4:15). You have been given many instructions in life, and maybe sometimes they have been unclear. Maybe sometimes you were a little foggy about the details, but it is impossible to question the instructions in Proverbs 4:15! Have nothing to do with the way of the evil person.

How do you guard or keep your heart? As one person said, “We have need to guard every port, and write over every portal, ‘Here there entereth nothing to hurt or to defile.'” Read Proverbs 4 and you see every port mentioned. “Incline thine ear unto my sayings…Perverse lips put far from thee. Let thine eyes look right on…Ponder the path of thy feet.”

It reminds me of the tenacious defense system of the psalmist. “I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside…He that worketh deceit shall not dwell within my house: he that telleth lies shall not tarry in my sight” (Psalm 101:3, 7). Many are dangerously unaware of the enemies tactics like the people of Matawan, New Jersey. Something as valuable as your heart must be fortified.

Keep your heart with all diligence.

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