Keep Your Heart to Know God in Truth
Psalm 73:21-22 Thus my heart was grieved, and I was vexed in my mind. I was so foolish and ignorant; I was like a beast before You.
Psalm 73:25-28 Whom have I in heaven but You, and there is none upon earth that I desire besides You…God is the strength of my heart…it is good to draw near to God; I have put my trust in the Lord God, that I may declare all your works.
God never changes. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8). But how we view the Lord can change from day to day, even hour to hour, depending on the state of our hearts.
Psalm 73 is the famous psalm of struggle with the apparent unfairness of how the wicked seem to prosper in this life, and the negative effect that line of thinking can produce in the soul. Asaph the psalmist makes it clear that this mental trail is wrong: “…as for me, my feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped” (v. 2). But all his observations ring clearly in those of us who have tasted of those frustrations: The wicked often seem to be always at ease, increasing in riches. They wear their pride proudly and set their mouths against the heavens—with seeming impunity.
Those inaccurate thoughts on the wicked soon lead to the great lie with which the devil tempts the psalmist—and the seeming goal of the enemy here: “All in vain have I kept my heart clean and washed my hands in innocence” (v. 13).
What a defeat this would have been if Asaph had not wrestled with this diabolical lie and won this battle! His first victory is realizing that sharing his doubts would have stumbled his fellow believers: “If I had said, ‘I will speak thus,’ I would have betrayed the generation of your children.” What a valuable example for us, in this day of over-sharing, to see this demonstration of restraint because of love for one’s Christian family.
The next victory for the psalmist is recognizing how his heart attitude affected his view of God (see vv. 21-22 above). He was “foolish and ignorant” (literally “stupid and not discerning”) and like “a beast” before God. Why? Because of a bitter heart. How quickly bitterness can lead us to make wrong and devilish assumptions about God, His heart, and His ways. The change from one bad thought to another, more destructive one, is evident from verse to verse in this psalm. And it all stemmed from a grieved and hardening heart.
How important it is for us to “keep our hearts with all diligence” (Proverbs 4:23). It’s easy to see how easily and quickly a life-destroying lie can take hold (“All in vain have I kept my heart clean”) when bitterness begins to take over. It should be easy for readers to think of more than one example within their circle of someone who has allowed bitterness to distort their heart and mind and has moved away from the path of life.
Asaph found his answer when he encountered God’s presence in the Temple (vv. 16-17). We can keep our hearts from bitterness by spending time with Him, reading His word (and adding our faith to what we read), and by not forsaking the assembling of ourselves with our fellow believers. Nothing new here. But staying close to Him often requires the diligence referred to in Proverbs 4 above.
Prayer: Father, strengthen me to be diligent to keep my heart in Your truth. Point out bitterness before it grows into doubt and faithlessness. I want to keep my heart clean to keep my spiritual vision clear. Amen.