For the next few months I will focus on passages for my Bible study blogs that use the word heart in them. My motivations include the fact that I recently had a pacemaker installed, the many passages that use this word, and my sense that the teachings related to the heart are very important to our understanding of the purpose of life. . My electronic concordance found nearly 1,000 usages of heart by the NKJV translators. I hope to identify many of the basic truths about the heart found in these passages as I prepare these blogs.
I am beginning with one of the most familiar and significant of the heart passages, one found in the Psalm attributed to David as a response to the prophet Nathan\’s challenge to him regarding his adultery with Bathsheba.
The Hebrews identified the heart, not only as the pump for blood circulating through the body, but also as the seat of emotions. David realized that he had allowed his emotions to lead him into violating a basic law of God. He senses both his filth and his guilt. He also realizes that God is the one who can do the cleaning of his heart. To my mind this is the proper way of dealing with sin. Often we try to explain away or justify our sin. We declare that in our situation, or our case, this was the lesser evil, or this was what needed to be done. Other times, we will boldly, and foolishly, deny the authority or the existence of God. And on still other occasions we may try to bribe God and offer him some payment for his forgiveness of our sins. History is littered with examples of these three erroneous efforts at dealing with guilt. David simply asks for God\’s forgiveness. So, should we whenever we sin.
The ground of his request for forgiveness is identified as a “contrite” heart. I take this to mean that he is honestly acknowledging his sinfulness. No effort to excuse it; no offer to pay for it; no argument that God has no authority in such matters. He just requests that God forgive him. Again, history is full of other sinners who have tried one of the other three responses. They fail.
In both verses David links his concern about his heart with a reference to the human spirit. Fifty years ago in my college days and early days as a teacher, it was common for intellectuals to either deny or ignore that spiritual side of life. While the spirit is back in vogue, it is often misunderstood. God is lord of the spiritual dimension of life as surely as he is the creator of the material side. God is spirit, we are told. His Holy Spirit takes up residence in the hearts of those who acknowledge his son Jesus as Savior and as Lord. I believe that the “right” spirit is one of submission to the authority of God over me. And over you. And over everything.