Your 50 Favorite Proverbs: #47 In the Spotlight

February 2014 Your 50 Favorite Proverbs with Liz Curtis Higgs

Okay, who voted for this one?! (Just kidding, Mary.) Now that I’ve spent time with this week’s verse, I’m glad it made our top 50. Still, it is a little unsettling to think about God shining a bright spotlight into the darkest corner of our hearts.

What happens if he finds something embarrassing? something ugly? something we don’t want anyone to know about, let alone the Lord?

Keep reading. The news is good, I promise.

The human spirit is the lamp of the Lord
    that sheds light on one’s inmost being. Proverbs 20:27

Bible Open to Proverbs 20 with Jerusalem Candle

The human spirit…

So, is this the Holy Spirit? No, but if you’re filled with the Holy Spirit, this is where he dwells inside you.

The Hebrew word, neshamah, means “breath,” the very essence of human life. When God first made man from the dust of the ground, he “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life” (Genesis 2:7).

But it’s not oxygen we’re talking about here—aardvarks and zebras breathe too. Rather, it’s the unique quality which makes us human. Our “soul” (GW), our “conscience” (TLB), or if you want to get really specific, “that factor in human personality which proceeds immediately from God” (AMP).


It’s the part that makes you you, and not someone else. The part that’s made in God’s image, shining inside us.

Proverbs 20:27

…is the lamp of the Lord…

Yes, a real lamp, burning bright, like a “fire” (JUB) or a “searchlight” (TLB). This “candle of the Lord” (KJV), Matthew Henry tells us, is “not only lighted by him, but lighted for him,” so he can look around.

Is it just me, or is this idea really scary?

…that sheds light…

His beacon inside us “penetrates” (NLT) and “illuminates” (VOICE), relentlessly “searching” (AMP) and “exposing” (NLT), so the Lord “is able to see” (ERV) everything.

I know in my heart I can’t hide things from God.

But in my foolish flesh, I tell myself he can’t possibly look at all of us at the same time, right? Surely he didn’t see me do that, or hear me mutter that, or watch me when I behaved like that?

Oh yes, he did. Yes, he does. And yes, he will.

Make no mistake, “the Lord looks deep inside people” (NCV). He sees it all.

Why is this a good thing? Because through our God-given conscience, he can show us who we truly are—the good, the bad, and the desperately ugly—lest we think for a moment we can manage without him. “It is the spirit in a person, the breath of the Almighty, that gives them understanding” (Job 32:8).

When God sees us, we see more clearly too.

God Sees Everything

…on one’s inmost being.

Now, there’s a phrase that would stop a conversation in its tracks: “one’s inmost being”? Wow. Heavy, as we said in the ‘70s.

“Our hearts” (CEV)? We get that. “Our most intimate thoughts” (VOICE)? Sure. “All the hidden things of the bowels” (DRA) sounds like a topic best saved for your next doctor’s appointment. And “into your deepest parts” (ERV) makes me downright uncomfortable.

It’s meant to. In Hebrew, these two words, cheder and beten, are often translated “bedroom” and “womb.”

Okay, then.

God shines his light of truth into the very core of who we are, the deepest center of our personality, our sexuality, our physicality, our spirituality, revealing “every hidden motive” (NLT) and ”all our innermost secrets” (WYC).


The fact is, “we cannot hide from ourselves” (GNT), and we cannot hide from God. He sees everything, whether we want him to or not. Yes, that. And that. And (sorry) that.

Even so, he loves us. Even so, he forgives us. Even so, he will “cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

Because of the sacrifice Christ made on the cross, the penalty for our sins has been paid in full. When God shines his light inside us, it’s not so he can punish us; it’s so he can purify us.

Good news, as promised. Very good news.

The human spirit is the lamp of the Lord
    that sheds light on one’s inmost being. Proverbs 20:27

Light of the World

Now it’s your turn

One question for you:

  • How might this verse change your view of God?
    And your view of yourself?

Share your thoughts via Post a Comment below. Your honesty will help us all be more honest with ourselves and with the Lord.

And here’s your Printable of Proverbs 20:27, with four copies of this week’s verse on a single page. I hope you’re finding them helpful.

I’ve also added a new pin illustrating Proverbs 20:27 on Pinterest.

Next Wednesday, it’s another “but” verse, showing us how to become wiser. Until then, God bless you for writing his Word across the tablet of your heart!

Your sister, Liz
@LizCurtisHiggs #50Proverbs

P.S. How are you doing on memorizing? (I know, I know. It’s harder than I expected too!) Here’s one way to practice:

Let love and faithfulness never leave you;
    ___________________________. Proverbs 3:3

For the Lord gives wisdom;
    ___________________________. Proverbs 2:6

A person finds joy in giving an apt reply—
    ___________________________! Proverbs 15:23

The way of fools seems right to them,
    ___________________________. Proverbs 12:15

The human spirit is the lamp of the Lord
    ___________________________. Proverbs 20:27

Don’t lose heart. We can do this!

Your Sister, Liz Curtis Higgs Bible Gateway Blogger Grid Member February 2014 Your 50 Favorite Proverbs with Liz Curtis Higgs

53 Responses to Your 50 Favorite Proverbs: #47 In the Spotlight

  1. Kristine February 5, 2014 at 6:51 am #

    Liz, I am thoroughly enjoying this study. As an English teacher, I truly appreciate how you break down the scripture into words and phrases, so we can get to the depth of the meaning! This one cut me right to the core- ouch! (Definitely a needed incision, though!)

    • Liz Curtis Higgs February 5, 2014 at 7:55 am #

      And as an English major, Kristine, I’m grateful for your encouragement. :>) Proverbs 20:27 was an ouch for me too…and also much needed.

  2. toni February 5, 2014 at 7:09 am #

    #47 Proverb God loves us !

  3. Jena Vaughn February 5, 2014 at 9:20 am #

    God knows me better than I know myself, and I find that comforting because He loves me inspite of my shortcomings. I’ve always disliked it when people who are falling in love say “I have found my soul mate.” No, your soul (spirit) belongs to God and God only. Jesus should be the lover of your soul, your soul mate. He is mine. I find this verse comforting knowing that my soul is His, He loves me inspite of my sins, and He is working to improve my ability to let His light shine thorugh me. Thanks Liz

    • Liz Curtis Higgs February 5, 2014 at 9:29 am #

      A really good point, Jena: the Lord Jesus is indeed our only “soul mate.”

    • Colleen February 10, 2014 at 9:22 am #

      I LOVE this thought…..truly HIS…..oh, my. <3 HE is the lover of my soul….amazing.

  4. Kathy February 5, 2014 at 9:28 am #

    Morning! Wow! I know God sees and hears EVERYTHING. I’m not always proud of my decisions, when I look in the mirror I see a women trying her best to live a life that would please The Lord. It just doesn’t always happen. I get mad, I say things before I think. My desire to be a kind and loving women is a work in process. So everyday I look to Him for strength and memorizing these verses everyday is definitely a reminder. This process has been in the making for 43 years!

    • Liz Curtis Higgs February 5, 2014 at 9:31 am #

      Such a relief to know God is ever at work. Though we may get impatient, our growth in him is unfolding exactly as he planned. Whew.

  5. Elizabeth Hoagland February 5, 2014 at 9:53 am #

    Lizzie! Your timing is PERFECTO…Our little small group Bible study is doing Beth Moore’s “Sacred Secrets”. Yesterday, we discussed Jeremiah 23:23-24, “Am I a God at hand, declares the Lord, and not a God far away? Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the Lord. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the Lord?” In other words, no, we cannot hide from the Lord. Love your description of your above Proverb. Beth asked, “Why is the impossibility of hiding from God BOTH a terrible and a comforting truth?” Our discussion was similar to yours which at the end of the day, may seem uncomfortable, yet comforting to know God knows us, He created us, and He loves us. That’s some amazing grace. Glad you’re home! Can’t wait to hear about your trip. Love & hugs across town. P.S. I hope one of the top 50 proverbs is Prov. 27:17, but if not, you’re DOING this each week with these wonderful blogs. (As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.”) MEGA BLESSINGS TO YOU…

    • Liz Curtis Higgs February 6, 2014 at 6:24 am #

      GREAT connection to Beth’s teaching on Jeremiah 23: “a terrible and a comforting truth.” Exactly! And YES, Proverbs 27:17 made the list of our 50 Favorites. Can’t wait to unpack that one! Hugs to you.

  6. Rhonda February 5, 2014 at 9:57 am #

    Thank you for this study in Proverbs, especially today’s devotional. Wow, it hits home and hits hard. So thankful that you study, prepare and no doubt stay in prayer to bring these studies to us. My husband is a pastor and I know the length of time he spends in preparation and prayer. Thankful to God for men and women who are committed and faithful in their studies and their walk with the Lord. God bless you!

    • Liz Curtis Higgs February 6, 2014 at 6:26 am #

      Thanks, Rhonda, SO much. When God nudged me to start this online study, I knew it was his gentle but firm way of keeping me IN THE WORD and ON MY KNEES. It’s a joy and a blessing to share what he’s teaching me!

  7. jaime February 5, 2014 at 10:10 am #

    Its wonderful that He loves us this much. Having eyes in the back of one’s head doesn’t even begin to compare to the way the Lord watches us. I have a tendency to use my four year old to put things in perspective. We are Gods children and in the grand scheme of things, we all have our four year old moments. I ask my son quite often” do you want me to tell the little girls at church what you did?” His reply is invariably” NO”. My response is “If you’re so ashamed of it, why did you do it?” I know I’ve had and still have lots to be ashamed of before my Father but I know He forgives and wipes away. Have a blessed day.

    • Liz Curtis Higgs February 6, 2014 at 6:28 am #

      Oh yes. Those four-year-old moments! What boggles my mind is that God knows not only what we HAVE done but what we WILL do in the future, and STILL he loves and forgives and cleanses and restores. Humbling.

  8. Ann Blomgren February 5, 2014 at 10:34 am #

    I am grateful to know that God sees, and opens my eyes to things deep inside of me that I wouldn’t see on my own. Usually not pleasant at the time, but the result of giving it up to Him to cleanse and purify brings such freedom! and such confidence in His work in me, and His awe-inspiring Grace!

  9. Suzette Sand February 5, 2014 at 10:42 am #

    God wants to grow me when He reveals my sin, shortcomings, mess ups. It is so encouraging that He has my best interests in mind when He shines that lamp into my inmost parts revealing what needs to be addressed. And this is such an example of perfect parenting. Such love! So amazing!

    • Liz Curtis Higgs February 6, 2014 at 6:29 am #

      Beautifully put, Suzette: God DOES have our best interests in mind.

  10. Martha T. February 5, 2014 at 11:17 am #

    I am glad you shared that this verse has a plus and a minus aspect (from our perspective). So very grateful that the Lord loves me in spite of what is revealed and also glad that once something icky is revealed, it can be taken away by Him.

  11. Lorna February 5, 2014 at 12:02 pm #

    Hi Liz
    First of all I want to thank you for this Bible Study on Proverbs!
    When I read our Sister’s favorite selections it lifts my heart with joy.
    We are loved and we are never alone.
    Blessings to you all!

  12. Cat February 5, 2014 at 1:04 pm #

    WOW! I am encouraged by this verse and the questions posted…I mean if I am made up of God and my unique and quirky personality comes from him, than I am of God and that must make me truly awesome, because God is truly AWESOME!! Thank you God for giving me my unique and amazing spirit by breathing life into me and living in me, shinning your light in all the ugly parts of me to bring out the ugly and fill me with you!

  13. Janey Hollingsworth February 5, 2014 at 1:04 pm #

    I love how God loves unconditionally- He IS love and He’s always there for us, no matter what! Even as He’s looking into my deepest thoughts, actions, and memories, He’s bringing to light the bad things so I can become more like Christ! Whatever it takes… I want to be cleansed!!

  14. Bonnie February 5, 2014 at 1:06 pm #

    I too am grateful for this study! I am working on the memorizing – a real challenge, but worth it. I love having these proverbs available to me at those times when I really need them. I will think of God’s light helping me through these days!

  15. Shellynne February 5, 2014 at 1:34 pm #

    “When God shines His light on us it is not to punish us but to purify us” I am weekly taken in by the depth of truth you bring to this study Liz. It IS scary in a way to think of His light shining in and revealing my inner most self. with all the selfishness and ugliness that can surprise me when I see it. But how wonderful the reassurance that it is so He can purify and sanctify me that I might bring Him glory. Reminds me of an old Watchman Nee illustration of the Holy Spirit cleaning the windows to our hearts little by little. The cleaner the windows get the more HIs light shines in and the more dirt we see. But it is not a time for discouragement but for celebration that we CAN see it and sweep it out. Loving this study with you. Thank you!

  16. Adelle February 5, 2014 at 2:07 pm #

    Ummmm ouch is right!!! I love how you break this down so as not to miss a single meaning in the words. It definitely reminds me that God sees not only my actions but my thoughts. Even when the thoughts do lead to action, they can still hurt God.

  17. Joanne Myette February 5, 2014 at 4:04 pm #

    Wow this one hit home for me today. My mood was rather ugly and unpleasant. It made me stop and think about God shining his light inside of me today and not being too pleased with my thoughts. I too am so grateful for his love and mercy and for this timely reminder that God sees all.

  18. Sheri February 5, 2014 at 5:02 pm #

    I feel secure knowing that God knows all and sees all! I am thankful that Someone greater than me is in control. Even when I am ashamed of my words and actions, I can trust Him to love me so much He won’t leave me. I read Psalms 51 many times and place my name in the scripture. David knew the real God and could trust Him for forgiveness and to continue to search his heart. I love that! Jesus loves me, this I know. Jesus knows me, this I love! Loving your Proverbs study. Love you too!

  19. Birdie Cutair February 5, 2014 at 5:14 pm #

    The memory part is difficult but I am keeping at it. Thanks, Liz, for giving the beginning of the Proverb and then we can try and remember the second part. I especially enjoy the Hebrew words since I have studied Hebrew and find it so interesting with all the meanings a word can have.

  20. Beverly Breeger February 5, 2014 at 5:45 pm #

    Todays proverb hit home in a big way. I have been uptight lately and I keep trying so hard. But what this proverb reminded me today is that the light of the Lord is always with me and I just need to relax and let the Lord lead me. He will always be with me and OH HOW HE LOVES ME. Thanks for a wonderful study and reminder of his love.

  21. Vickie Hammaker February 5, 2014 at 7:24 pm #

    Beautiful scripture! His lamp might shine upon us and show our inmost being in ways that we don;t want to see, but His lamp also shines upon us and shows us our inmost being and the beauty that He sees and what we can do in the strength of His Light! I thank God for all of your beautiful insights!

    • Susan Ireland February 6, 2014 at 3:01 am #

      Amen !

  22. Susan Gruener February 5, 2014 at 8:48 pm #

    Wow, I love it how you break up these verses (I know I say this every time!) and show us bit by bit what they mean. It makes everything so much clearer and in a way that I had not thought of, many times. I know the Lord sees everything we do, sees our heart etc, but I looked at this much differently as our ‘human spirit’ is the ‘lamp of the Lord’. And ‘for the Lord’ as He sees us how we really are. I believe we are also His ‘reflection’, as we reflect His ‘light’ in us – so that others may know! It changes the way I have looked at God, in that He wants us to be His reflection. I pray it changes me to be His ‘reflection’ even more!
    Thanks Liz!
    I so look forward to reading your insight and humorous words for every Proverb! 🙂

  23. Julie Sunne February 5, 2014 at 11:54 pm #

    Another encouraging study, Liz. Isn’t it great how all Scripture turns into good news when looked at through the lens of Jesus Christ and and the hope and promise we have in Him?!

  24. Karla Powrie February 6, 2014 at 12:13 am #

    What freedom this message brings from trying to keep up appearances! We all want to be known fully and yet still be loved and this is what The Lord provides! We don’t have to pretend to be better for Him! But, He doesn’t only check out our hearts and leave us there, he wants to cleanse us and lead us in His ways. How I pray that I cooperate!

  25. Susan Ireland February 6, 2014 at 3:00 am #

    God gives me breathe each morning when I wake. When I stop to think of this , the depth of his love for me. He is ever with me , he knows my deep thoughts , even thoughts I have not thought yet – I love Proverbs, if you start each month on day 1, you can read a proverb each day – that was awesome when I learned that and at the end of each month , you start over. 🙂

  26. Cynthia Stevenson February 6, 2014 at 4:08 pm #

    Thank you Liz for encouraging us in our memorization of Proverbs. I have discovered this gal’s memory “ain’t what it used to be”! 🙂

    Someone suggested I try Scripture Typer. I am using it and it does help.

  27. Cynthia Stevenson February 6, 2014 at 4:44 pm #

    #47: Who else knows me so immediately? No one does. He knows me. He loves me. He cares about me. He forgives me. Thank you God!

  28. Linda H February 6, 2014 at 6:42 pm #

    Wow! What a great reminder how God sees me inside and out and still loves me. Why do I strive to be seen as good to others when it is what I am to Christ that matters most.
    I have recently had an incident of being placed under a microscope by my daughter who is lost and it hurt to think about what or what not was truth about who I am. This study helps me to be comforted by the fact that Christ who knows me best is not judging me, but lovingly searching my heart and desiring the best of Him to shine through me !! Thankful the Lord uses you Liz to help shine his truths to us!!

  29. Heather February 7, 2014 at 10:24 am #

    I should read this one to my son. He was feeling bad about himself the other day and he asked me ,”Mom, does God really love me?”

  30. Marquita Kimmel February 7, 2014 at 10:44 am #

    There’s “No where to run, nowhere to hide” but into His everlasting arms. My husband & I are memorizing these Proverbs together and say them during our evening prayers. Thanks for your insight.

  31. Blanche February 7, 2014 at 2:52 pm #

    As an instructor for GED students, all adults, I see the lack confidence in most. This particular verse not only shed light on my inmost being, but gives me hope of spreading the joy of knowing that the Lord continues to spread that light. Pray that I may continue to build that confidence. I love the study, but it’s just not as easy to memorize as I get older. Of course, that’s what keeps the mind working.

  32. Donna Lee February 7, 2014 at 10:38 pm #

    Soulmate , best friend! He knows more about me than
    I do !! A quiet confidence that he loves us all , with our unique
    and diverse personalities ! Another phrase(song) from the
    70’s or 60’s( I ‘m older than Liz). ” I see the light “

  33. Brenda Williams February 8, 2014 at 7:45 am #

    I am working on being a better person so that I can be more comfortable with this verse. Also, this verse now gives me comfort that I am not alone, God is with me in the darkness helping me see what I need to do better to improve.
    Thanks Liz!

  34. Cara February 8, 2014 at 8:12 am #

    So glad for this! As uncomfortable as it may seem that He sees “all,” the beautiful part is that He loves us in spite of it. May I have the same love for and to give to others!

  35. Ana February 8, 2014 at 10:47 am #

    I’m a work-in-progress, but who isn’t? I mess up, then try to fix up, then mess up again. As much as I know I will never be perfect but I know the One who is. If the Lord sheds his light in me and even if it’s a little corner right now, I know He cares about me and no matter how I mess up he’s got my back! I am thankful to you sister Liz who shares and reminds us that we are so loved. Feeling blessed right now! Thank you Liz.

  36. Sue Brown February 8, 2014 at 9:42 pm #

    I weep! – humble, secure in His love. Thank you.

  37. Valerie Biver February 8, 2014 at 11:07 pm #

    Liz I am loving this study. Perfect timing every week, further proving God almighty’s plans. The realization of the ALL the time is so hard to comprehend. Reading this, I am trying to tie it together with other readings about The Lord being our lamp and salvation. Thank you!

  38. katie February 11, 2014 at 12:32 pm #

    I hope Proverbs 4:23 is on your list! It has become a sort of theme verse for me so far this year and I would love to see you expound upon it! I often think of it in terms of “guarding your thoughts”; I used to think of it as a protective verse but I am now starting to think of it as a proactive verse. Hoping I’m on the right track… 😉

  39. Rachel Britton February 11, 2014 at 3:35 pm #

    Sometimes, I think the things we discover in the depth of our being can be quite a shock, but the wonderful thing is they are never a surprise to our heavenly Father for, as you say Liz, he knows everything about us. He knows us better than we know ourselves.

  40. Mary February 11, 2014 at 4:57 pm #

    Yes, I’m the Mary that suggested this verse 🙂 Thank you so much for all you have gleaned from it and shared with us! I’m always blessed by your insights, the way you break it down and use different translations. I am comforted by this verse, comforted that God sees into all of me. I want Him to bring His light into the dark places in my heart because He can transform them.

  41. Regina February 15, 2014 at 5:01 pm #

    When I ponder this verse, I think about how God has set eternity in the hearts of men. The very fact that the human spirit continues to search and ask and explores deep questions is a searchlight meant to point the way home to our heavenly Father. And no matter how messy and complicated our inmost being might be, grace whispers “Where sin abounded, grace abounded much more.” (Rom 5:20) This promise has rescued me on more than one dark night, and my view of God expands each time I understand a deeper part of myself. “You love that part too?” I ask. “Yes.” Comes the answer. “I knit you together before your story began (Psalm 139:19), and I love you.” As my road continues on, I can truly declare that I love him, but he loved me first (1 John 4:9)…quirks and failures and triumphs all.

  42. Karen Anderson February 18, 2014 at 9:59 am #

    Love this verse and it’s message. I have been using ” Scripture Typer” for memory work. It is a great help.