O, My Heart!

Few of us would know what it feels like to be pursued by someone intent upon wiping us off the face of the earth. David knew the feeling. Early, in the days before he became king over Israel, Saul chased him around the countryside with a vigor and determination that would have been more appropriate if applied to his dedication to the Lord. Saul came close to meeting his goal on several occasions, only to be thwarted by God. David was protected from Saul’s fierce anger.

But most of us know what it means to be pursued by other enemies besides the physical ones. Sometimes those enemies even live inside us. The popular saying, “Follow your heart” is the subject of Jeremiah’s words: “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (17:9). We can’t even trust our own hearts to not lead us into trouble. Doing what “feels good” isn’t necessarily what IS good. David would write, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit in me” (Psalm 51:10) and “Search me, O God, and know my heart…see if there is any offensive way in me…” (Psalm 139:23). The idea that God knows what is in our hearts—good and bad—is followed up by Jeremiah: “I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind…” (17:10).

But in Psalm 57, written while David was being chased by Saul, the future king of Israel is certain of his heart. In spite of the danger he runs on a daily basis he writes: “My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast! I will sing and make melody!…I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praise to you among the nations. For your steadfast love is great to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth!” (Psalm 57:7, 9-11).

David began the psalm by pleading for God’s mercy as Saul closed in on him but quickly reaffirmed his faith in God by saying: “I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me” (57:2). The fear that could and should, by all human standards, have consumed and paralyzed him—the response of a treacherous heart—was laid at God’s feet in these words of trust. God’s perfect purposes will be carried out.

How do we know when our spiritual hearts are healthy? How do we know when we can trust them not to betray us and lead us astray? David’s example is a good one. Open the deceitful heart up to the Spirit of God and Him shine the light of the Word of God on the dark places where the evil resides. Let Him clean out the nests of anger, resentment, fear, anxiety, disappointment, rebellion, pride, envy—whatever may be hiding there.

Then, out of those pure, clean hearts, will flow words of praise to God: “My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast! I will sing and make melody!…I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praise to you among the nations. For your steadfast love is great to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth!

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