It is true that in this psalm the writer is one of God’s children, but what he says also holds true for the non—Christian (but in a disturbing rather than comforting way) : God is man’s Environment. And those who by sin are not in harmony with Him are out of sync with their environment. He closes in on each one of us from behind, at the side, in the front; in the dark, in the light. There is no escaping God. The trees, the sky, the landscape are not neutral; they are His creation. Even the very thunder and lightning seem unfriendly to those who do not see His power and glory in them.
Every sinner is aware of the discomfort in his environment. The existentialists, and those psychologists and psychiatrists who are ininfluenced by them, have described this awareness as alienation and an undifferentiated angst . But the unbeliever fails to articulate the true nature of the problem. He knows something is wrong in himself and in this world, but the very thing that creates the problem—his separation from God—also makes it impossible to conceptualize the issues in those terms. The unregenerate man is an uncertain man; he has no absolutes, no standard outside of himself and his ever-changing opinions and values. Down deep inside he is never sure about the life he lives; he can’t be because his basic antagonism with his environment constantly unsettles him. He is unhappy and uncomfortable in his environment because he finds himself at odds with it. When sinning, the Christian also shares something of this discomfort, but he knows what to do about it (I John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous so that He may forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness”). Confession and cleansing clear the way for a renewed fellowship with God (I John 1:3, 6, 7) that revives a harmonious and comfortable relationship with the environment. Also, in times of danger and concern, the assurance of God’s presence brings comfort, courage and cheer.
Jay Edward Adams, A Theology of Christian Counseling : More Than Redemption (Grand Rapids, MI: Ministry Resource Library, 1986), 39-40.
Study of Anthropological Terms in Proverbs
Usage: “Heart” is used 69 times in the book of Proverbs (NASB). Fox summarizes the use as follows, The “heart is the locus and organ of thought and the faculty of understanding. . . . The intellectual exercise of the mind is not really detached from the emotional and the modern dichotomy is artificial.” This definition well covers the evidence. The “heart” is central control; it is the heart of human life. It is a place of cognitive determination and desire (2:2; 6:25 & 7:25; 23:17). It is the locus of information, whether good or evil (2:10; 3:3; 4:21; 7:3 (a place to store wisdom); 14:33; 22:15; 26:24; 26: 25). The information in the heart is not solely cognitive or moral: it includes the affections (14:10; 24:17). Being the locus of information and font of desire (which as Edwards notes leads to will) the heart has the ability to determine both conduct and emotion (7:25; 6:14; 14:30; 17:22; 23:19; 23:26).The heart even affect disease or heath (14:30; 17:22). The movement from information and desire to conduct is not solely spontaneous, but also includes deliberate planning (6:18; 7:10; 15:7; 15:28; 16:21; 19:21; 20:5).
Since information and desire couple to give rise to behavior and emotion, the overt conduct conveys information concerning the subjective state of the heart (10:20; 12:20; 12:23; 12:25; 15:7; 15:13; 15:15; 16:23; 22:11; 27:19).
This correspondence between the content of the heart and conduct supports a synecdoche by which the heart answers for the entire man (10:18; 10:20; 11:20;21:4; 23:15; 26:23). Yet, care must always be taken when evaluating the content of the heart from objective conduct, because the heart is capable of overt deceit (6:10; 23:7; 26:23-24). Longman writes of 14:10, “[N]o one can really know what is going on emotionally insider another person.” Thus, “the heart of the king is unsearchable” (25:3; see also, 23:7). The problem with evaluation of the heart exists even with self-evaluation: “To trust in one’s own heart . . .is the epitome of folly”.
The heart exists in a recursive system: information flows outward from the heart into will and conduct; and, information flows inward from conduct and the environment: which information flows affect the state of the heart (13:12; 15:30; 25:20; 27:9; 27:11; 31:11).
The heart does not exist in a hermetic naturalistic system. While the creature, in all manifestations, does interact with the heart, so does the Creator: The heart “lies open” before God (15:11). God controls the heart, and thus controls behavior (16:1; 19:21; 21:1). God responds to and judges the heart (17:3). As it reads in Proverbs 16:5: “Everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord.” The heart itself can foolishly “rage against the Lord” (19:3).
Since the heart is the true center of the human, both for the source and the reception of natural and supramundane information, it is appropriate to direct commands to the heart (3:1; 3:3; 4:4; 23:12).This critical and control element of the man requires the utmost care and concern. Hence, the command in Proverb 3:25 (ESV), “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.”
Implications: To control the heart is to control the man (whether good or evil; see, e.g. Hos. 4:11). John Flavel in his masterful Saint Indeed, provides six elements of any proper heart work: “(1) Frequent observation of the frame of the heart . . . [¶] (2) It includes deep humiliation for heart-evils and disorders . . . . [¶] (3) It includes earnest supplications and instant prayer for heart-purifying and rectifying grace, when hath defiled and disordered it . . . . [¶] (4) It includes the imposing of strong engagements and bonds upon ourselves to walk more accurately with God and avoid the occasions whereby the heart may be induced to sin . . . . [¶] (5) It includes a constant holy jealousy over our own hearts; quicksighted self-jealousy is an excellent preservative from sin . . . . .[¶] (6) [T]he realizing of God’s presence with us, and setting the Lord always before us . . . .”
Usage: The word “soul” is used 17 (NASB). The word “soul” refers to the essential self of a man (13:4; 13:19; 16:2421:23; 24:12; 24:14; 13:4). As it says in Proverbs 3:22, “They will be life to your soul”. It is the aspect of man which experiences and relates to the environment (Prov. 2:10; 25:13; 25:25; 29:17). It is a seat of desire (Prov. 21:10; 13:4). The “soul” also refers to the immortal life: “He who is wise wins souls” (Prov. 11:30; while the reference to when the soul is won is ambiguous in 11:30, 11:31 indicates an immortal context and final judgment). “You will strike him with the rod, and rescue his soul from Sheol” (Prov. 23:14; see, 19:16).
The word “spirit” is used 12 times in the book of Proverbs. The word “spirit” generally tracks the usage of the word “soul” (see, e.g., Prov. 15:4; 16:19; 16:32; 17:22; 18:14; 29:23). It refers to the essential human being, particularly in the sense of emotion/motivation/self-knowledge. Implication: It is important to guard against a soul/body dichotomy in the language. While a man is body and soul, the text does not emphasize a distinction along these terms. Rather, the human being is an integrated whole.
The word “man” appears in the English text based upon multiple Hebrew originals, ’adam , geber and ’ish.
Usage: The basic word for man ’adam appears 44 times in Proverbs. The basis reference is to a human being, without reference to any particular aspect or attribute of humanity (Prov. 3:13; 8:4; 8:31; 11:7; 12:3; 12:14; 12:23; 17:18; 20:6; et cetera). The word can also refer to humanity, generally (Prov.19:3; 20:27; 29:24). In Proverbs 3:4, it refers to a “man” as opposed to God. Man is subject to God (Prov. 16:1; 16:9; 20:24; 24:12). Another anthropological term used for “man” is the word geber, which means a strong man, with varying types of power (24:5, 28:3; 29:5; 30:1; 30:19).
The basic meaning of ’ish is a male, as opposed to a female (see, e.g., Gen. 2:23-24). It is often an equivalent of the English word “husband” (see, e.g., Gen. 3:16). The word is used in Proverbs 55 times. The word is used to refer generically to human beings, irrespective of sex (Prov. 2:12; 12:8; 12:14; 12:25; 13:2; 13:8; 14:14; 21:29; et cetera). It is used to refer to humanity qua humanity (14:12; 16:26; 18:4; 18:14; 18:20). The word can refer to the strength of a man (24:5; 22:7; 22:29; 28:24). The strength of man is less than the power of God (19:21). And, man will be judged by God (21:2). Implications: Since the male sex can be used generically for the entirety of humanity, care must be taken to determine whether a particular reference is to a male or to a human being. As a sex, male is seen most plainly in his strength of abilities; yet, those abilities can be used for good or ill (much as wisdom is a neutral term, emphasizing capacity, or over end). This has important implications when we consider natural gifting of human beings. Strength, intelligence, attractiveness (of any sort), et cetera are themselves neutral, and thus meaning will depend upon the circumstance.
 The following works where used for this paper, but not separately cited due to space considerations:William Arnott, Laws From Heaven for Life on Earth (New York: T. Nelson and Sons, 1873); Franz Delitzsch, Biblical Commentary on the Proverbs of Solomon, Vol. I, trans. M.G. Easton, D.D. (New York: T & T Clark, 1884; Jonathan Edwards, The Freedom of the Will, Part I, online at http://www.ccel.org/ccel/edwards/will.html; Tremper Longman III, Proverbs (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2006); Moses Stuart, A Commentary on the Book of Proverbs (Andover: Warren F. Draper, 1870); William David Reyburn, Euan Fry: UBS Handbook Series; Helps for Translators: A Handbook on Proverbs (New York : United Bible Societies, 2000).
 “‘Heart’ (Hebrew leb) seems to be a word that in Proverbs is used to describe the entire internal life of a person. It is an internal reflection of the man (19:8, 20:5, 27:19). In Proverbs the uses of the word break down into the following percentages: it is the center of emotions (21%), reason (40%), behavior (3%), and volition (14%). The dominant feature seems to bethe rational element.” George Schwab, “The Proverbs and the Art of Persuasion,” The Journal of Biblical Counseling 14, no. 1 (Fall 1995): 8; see, David Powlison, “Critiquing Modern Integrationists,” The Journal of Biblical Counseling (Spring 1993): 27.
 Michael Fox, Proverbs 1‑9 (New York: Doubleday, 2000), 109.
 Longman, 299.
 Longman, 496-497.
 John Flavel, John Flavel, Volume 5: Saint Indeed, 1820; repr. (Carlisle: The Banner of Truth, 1982), 426‑28.
 Grudem’s point must be kept in mind, “Scripture uses ‘soul’ and ‘spirit’ interchangeably.” Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000), 473. Thus, the differentiation in handling these terms in this paper are necessarily of limited value.
 The congruity between “soul” and one’s entire life led Garret to translate 3:22 as “[they will be life to you”, the word “soul” being encompassed in “you”. D.A. Garrett, The New American Commentary, Volume 14: Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, electronic ed., Logos Library System. (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2001), 78.
 “But in all the Old Testament, nepes refers to the passionate drives and appetites of all breathing creatures, including their hunger for food and sex . . . .” Bruce Waltke, Proverbs 1‑15 (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2004), 90.
 Charles Bridges, Proverbs, 1846; repr. (Carlisle: The Banner of Truth, 1998), 130.
 Francis Brown, S.R. Driver and Charles A. Briggs, The Brown‑Driver‑Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon, 1906; repr. (Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1999), 149‑50.