Treasure For The Heart
In Psalm 19, David writes not only about God’s revelation in His creation and in His Word, but he also writes about the response of his own heart.
“7The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul;
The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.
8The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.
9The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever;
The judgments of the LORD are true;
they are righteous altogether.
10They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold;
Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb.
11Moreover, by them Your servant is warned;
In keeping them there is great reward.
12Who can discern his errors? Acquit me of hidden faults.
13Also keep back Your servant from presumptuous sins;
Let them not rule over me;
Then I will be blameless,
And I shall be acquitted of great transgression.
14Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
Be acceptable in Your sight,
O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer.”
I’d like to give you some things to ponder about this psalm. David uses different words to describe what God’s Word is. He lists the changes it makes in a person, and then he describes a few things about the condition the person was in before encountering God’s Word. Look the words over carefully and think about them. Do any of these conditions describe you?
Consider all of these effects of God’s Word on us, and then stop and ponder: what does each action tells you about the character of God? If God’s Law is perfect and restores the soul, what does that say about who God and what He is like? If God’s command is pure and makes the simple wise, what does that mean about God? If His precepts are right and they rejoice the heart, what does that tell you about God? And if His commands are pure and they enlighten the eyes, what does that teach you about God? What do you learn about God because His judgments are true? Because they are righteous altogether?
In verse 10, what is David’s attitude to God’s Word? Do you understand why he feels that way?
Look at verses 12-14. What does David recognize about himself? What does he ask God to do in verses 12-13? What is his final prayer in verse 14?
Go back and read all of Psalm 19. What is the relationship of the last three verses, 12-14, with the previous verses of the psalm?
May God’s Word be treasure for your heart.
In True Spirituality, Francis Schaeffer writes:
“Intellectual pursuits can be to the glory of God. But today much intellectual pursuit is not a pursuit of truth, or a search for truth, but a game—and the best game one can play…Theology today is often a superior game, just like the game of general intellectual thinking….If I had to choose a game to fill up the absolute vacuum of being a non-Christian and having no absolute meaning in my life, in my experience I could find no game across the whole philosophical spectrum as exciting as playing the theological game. And almost all modern liberal theology is just a game; it is pure gamesmanship.”
When we come to the Bible, we can’t play it like an intellectual game—nor can we play it like a competitive game of spirituality. Paul said if we have all knowledge and all faith, but we don’t have love, then we’re nothing. We need God to instruct us, and we need a heart on which God can write.
“Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and
all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able
to save your souls.”
“Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babies, long for the pure milk
of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.”
1 Peter 2:1-3
Both of these quotes begin with the word, Therefore. Go back for a minute and look at the verses that precede James 1: 21, and then look at those verses that precede 1 Peter 2:1-3. Find the reasons that James and Peter give to compel us to take action.
James and Peter then tell us to put aside some things, and they give a blunt list of sins. The thing is, we can’t go on to the next action without putting these things aside first, because they are the antithesis of what James and Peter next tell us to do.
Now that they’ve laid the groundwork with Therefore to give us motivation, and putting aside to get us ready, James and Peter each proceed to tell us the response we should have to God’s Word.
James writes, “…in humility receive the word implanted…”
Peter writes, “…long for the pure milk of the word…”
Be humble. Be hungry. Why? What will be the result? God’s Word will nurture us, and we will grow.
Don’t play games, instead…
“…pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness.”
1 Timothy 6:11b
“Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
“He is like a tree
planted by streams of water that yields its
fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.
“The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
“Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
for the LORD knows the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.”
Psalm 1 (ESV)
Thus says the LORD:
“Cursed is the man who trusts in man
and makes flesh his strength,
whose heart turns away from the LORD.
He is like a shrub in the desert,
and shall not see any good come.
He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness,
in an uninhabited salt land.
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD,
whose trust is the LORD.
He is like a tree planted by water,
that sends out its roots by the stream,
and does not fear when heat comes,
for its leaves remain green,
and is not anxious in the year of drought,
for it does not cease to bear fruit.”
Jeremiah 17:5-8 (ESV)
Truth In The Heart
These words follows a section in which he has been urging the study of the Bible as preparation for contending for the Gospel; he now describes the necessity of having God’s truth abiding in our hearts:
“That direction, in this kind, which with me is instar omnium1 is for a diligent endeavor to have the power of truths professed and contended for abiding upon our hearts, that we may not contend for notions, but what we have a practical acquaintance with in our souls. When the heart is cast indeed into the mould of the doctrine that the mind embraceth; when the evidence and necessity of the truth abides in us; when not the sense of the words only is in our heads, but a sense of the things abides in our hearts; when we have communion with God in the doctrine we contend for; —then shall we be garrisoned, by the grace of God against all the assaults of men. And without this all our contending is, as to ourselves, of no value.”
“What am I the better if I can dispute that Christ is God, but have no sense or sweetness in my heart from hence that he is a God in covenant with my soul? What will it avail me to evince, by testimonies and arguments, that he hath made satisfaction for sin, if, through my unbelief, the wrath of God abideth on me, and I have no experience of my own being made the righteousness of God in him, if I find not, in my standing before God, the excellency of having my sins imputed to him and his righteousness imputed to me? Will it be any advantage to me, in the issue, to profess and dispute that God works the conversion of a sinner by the irresistible grace of his Spirit, if I was never acquainted experimentally with the deadness and utter impotency to good, that opposition to the law of God, which is in my own soul by nature, with the efficacy of the exceeding greatness of the power of God in quickening, enlightening, and bringing forth the fruits of obedience in me? It is the power of truth in the heart alone that will make us cleave unto it indeed in an hour of temptation.
“Let us, then, not think that we are any thing the better for our conviction of the truths of the great doctrines of the gospel, for which we contend with these men, unless we find the power of the truths abiding in our own hearts, and have a continual experience of their necessity and excellency in our standing before God and our communion with him.”2
“But the goal of our instruction is love
from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.”
1 Timothy 1:5
Treasure For The Heart
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Johannes Vermeer, The Milkmaid: Public Domain.
Francis Schaeffer, True Spirituality, 1971, p. 144.
Note: In James 1:21, the word humble is a translation of a Greek word that is sometimes translated as gentle or as meekness. In the King James Version I believe it was translated more consistently as meek, unfortunately, as A. T. Robertson writes, meek is “this great word that has worn thin with us.” In his work on Matthew he states:
“The English word “meek” has largely lost the fine blend of spiritual poise and strength meant
by the Master. He calls Himself meek and lowly in heart” (Matt. 11:29) and Moses is also called
meek. It is the gentleness of strength, not mere effeminacy.”
A. T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, 1931, Vol. IV, p. 251, Vol. I, p. 41.
W. E. Vine defines the Greek word:
“…it consists not in a person’s outward behavior only; nor yet in his relations to his fellow-men;
as little in his mere natural disposition. Rather it is an inwrought grace of the soul; and the
exercises of it are first and chiefly towards God. It is that temper of spirit in which we accept
His dealings with us as good, and therefore without disputing or resisting.”
W. E. Vine, Old Testament edited by F. F. Bruce, Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old
and New Testament Words, 1981, Vol. 3, p. 55.
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Truth In The Heart
1instar omnium: worth all of them. Eugene Ehrlich, ed.,The Harper Dictionary of Foreign Terms,
3rd edition, Harper & Row, 1987, p. 164.
Charles H. Spurgeon, A Treasury of David, Psalm 33, v. 20, in the “Explanatory Notes and Quaint
Sayings”, quoting John Spencer about the Lord Jesus, “He is instar omnium (all in all), and who
is like unto him in all the world?”
In some old notes, I had written down that instar omnium, literally means, “among all the stars”,
but I neglected to list a reference, and I am unable to locate it.
2John Owen, Complete Works, The Mystery of the Gospel Vindicated and Socianism Examined,
Preface to the Reader, XII:52 . I have added paragraph breaks for easier reading.
1 Timothy 1:5: Paul’s sentence construction indicates the goal is not three things, but one thing—love—love from (1) a pure heart, (2) a good conscience and (3) a sincere faith. See: R. Kent Hughes and Bryan Chapell, 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus, p. 30; George W. Knight III, The Pastoral Epistles, The New International Greek Testament Commentary, p. 77.
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Original content: Copyright ©2010 Iwana Carpenter