With my whole heart I seek you;
do not let me stray from your commandments.
The Pharisees and teachers of the law were constantly seeking to trap Jesus into saying something that would give them a reason to denounce Christ before the people. Jesus was once asked by the religious leaders, “Why do your Disciples break our traditions?”
Jesus responded by asking them, “Why do you break God’s word for the sake of your traditions?”
Then Jesus makes the startling statement, quoting Isaiah, “These people honor me with their lips but their hearts are far from me.” Jesus is basically saying, “you go through all your religious ritual but your heart isn’t it.”
Our hearts are the “heart of our being”, as it were. Our hearts are the source or root or our response to the Lord. That’s what Jesus was speaking to in his words to the religious leaders. In Psalm 119 the writer acknowledges the truth that our hearts are the key to our relationship to our God. That’s where true worship begins. Three times since the beginning of the Psalm the writer speaks of the hearts importance in our walk with the Lord. He understands that the heart is the source of our thinking, willing, acting etc., of how we live before the face of God. This segment of the Psalm begins with the question, “How can a young man, or woman, keep his/her way pure.” The answer is quite simple, keep God’s word. But the Psalmist understands that to keep God’s word is no walk in the park. Keeping God’s word is an everyday struggle, a daily renewal of ones heart commitment to the Lord. The Proverb is right on when it states, “Above all else, guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life.” As the Psalm writer intimates we have a tendency to wander, to stray from the narrow way — the broad way is a constant temptation. The Psalmist knows he needs constant correction to stay on the narrow way of God’s word, that is the purpose of his prayer, “Do not let me stray from your commands.”
Keeping God’s word is a heart matter first of all. But as the Prophet Jeremiah tells us,”The heart is deceitful above all things.” The Psalmist hints at an answer to our dilemma in verse 32 when he declares, “You have set my heart free. “Jeremiah gives the full answer when he writes God’s words of mercy and grace, “I will give you a new heart…..I will put my Spirit in you to follow my words.” This radical heart surgery is possible only because of Jesus death on the cross for our sins and his resurrection from the dead, which is the source of our new heart and life. This is our gift of grace through faith, and remember as Paul writes, “With the heart man believes.”
“My son, my daughter give me your heart”, is the Lord’s invitation.
Keep his word.
~Pastor Jack Matheis