“My son, keep thy father’s commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother” – Proverbs 6:20
“Keep” in the Old Testament often means to guard, protect, or preserve. When you “keep” God’s Word, you are guarding it, or protecting it. But what does that mean exactly?
Consider this word picture:
In the Middle Ages, particularly the 10th through the 12th centuries, castles became very important places in warfare. They were designed to be impregnable fortresses against any attack. There were many elaborate designs of castles. They all included some basic elements though. The first line of defense was the outer wall, which was several feet thick (sometime more than 20 feet). There were tall towers along the walls and at the corners, through which archers would attack the enemy. There was often a large moat and elaborate drawbridge. The gates, which were the weakest part of the who complex, were modified with many defenses and traps in order to compensate. There were often several series of inner walls, all with their own towers and gates. A castle was a very difficult place to besiege successfully.
The central part of castle, the innermost structure, is known as the keep. It was essentially the absolute last line of defense, should the enemy break through the other series of walls. These keeps were sometimes nothing more than a hall surrounded by very strong walls. With the developement of battering rams, keeps went from a box-like construction to a cirucular one, as curved walls are harder to break through with a battering ram. Such keeps were also not just used for defence but for actual living accommodation for the royal family, storing armoury and often to guard the main well.
Our heart, then, is the keep of our souls. It is the central, the innermost part of our being. “Keep thy heart with all dilligence, for out of it are the issues of life“ (Proverbs 4:23). It is where you are truly yourself. It is where you store those things that are precious to your memory. Your heart can either be your last and best line of defence, or your weak link. It all depends on what you put in your keep. If you “keep” God’s Word in your heart, if you defend it and protect it inside your heart, God can defend your heart and life from all evil.
So what are you keeping and protecting God’s Word from in your heart? From it slipping from you memory, from it being disobeyed and neglected. You must protect it from the apathy and sinfulness of your flesh, which wars against you every day. When your outer walls are breached, and even your inner walls of spiritual protection crumble, if God’s Word is in the keep of your heart, you have a Sword which cannot be stopped. You have the very power of God to fight for you. Scripture memory and mediation are not just cool ideas that we’ve just recently come up with. They are commandments from God Almighty (look it up if you don’t believe me). More than that, they are powerful tools, weapons, and guides. A Christian who is intimately familiar with his Bible is a force to be reckoned with. The Word of God is your final, and yet your first, line of defense.