I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you, the psalmist wrote in Psalm 119:11. The most effective antidote to sin is to know the Word of God and hide it in our hearts. Slipping back into old habits is less easy if we have a built-in alarm system reminding us of the Lord's thoughts and words.
“Heart" in this verse refers to our mind, thoughts, and feelings. The Hebrew word "leb" was first used in Genesis 6:5 and referred to man's heart: "And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." In the next verse, Genesis 6:6, "leb" is used for God's heart: "And it repented the Lord that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him at His heart."
Imagine your heart as a large bank vault. As you read and meditate on God's Word, or better yet, memorize portions of it, you're storing a considerable deposit to put into your vault. The literal meaning of "hidden” in Psalm 119:11 means to cover over and, by implication, to hoard or reserve. It also means favorably protecting and keeping secretly, like we would with valuables and large stashes of money. The MESSAGE translation records Psalm 119:11 as, I've banked your promises in the vault of my heart, so I won't sin myself bankrupt.
Likening God's promises to a massive stash of money is a brilliant comparison! Bankruptcy is devastating. Some people never recover financially or emotionally from the shame of it. But the riches of God's promises in our hearts cannot be stolen or destroyed. 2 Peter 1:4 (NLT) says, and because of His glory and excellence, He has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share His divine nature and escape the world's corruption caused by human desires.
What's in the heart matters. When our hearts are full of God's Word and His promises, we can do what Peter described and escape the world's corruption caused by human desires. The alarm system in our "vault” will alert us of God's promises or instruction from the Word when sin tries to break in and steal the spiritual riches and rewards we've accumulated. A heart full of God's Word will also help control our speech, as reflected in Jesus' words in Matthew 12:34, "Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks."
Regarding the person who has hidden God's Word in his heart, Psalm 37:31 (ESV) says the law of his God is in his heart; his steps do not slip. To illustrate the idea of how sure-footed we can be by hiding the Word in our hearts--and how unlikely a slip will occur--The MESSAGE translation records Psalm 37:31 as, his heart pumps God's Word like blood through his veins; his feet are as sure as a cat's.
Recently after a snow and ice storm, I stood at the top of my driveway, which is on a hill, and watched in amazement as a neighborhood cat raced down the slippery, icy, snow-covered drive without slipping one bit! At the bottom of the driveway, the cat turned sharply to cross the road and run into the field below. It never even faltered in its frantic dash!
Hiding or maintaining a large reserve of God's word in our hearts is one of the best safeguards we can have to live a life that is pleasing to the Lord. Have you deposited anything into your vault today? Grab a Bible or listen to a Bible app, meditate on God's extraordinary Word, and keep your heart from going bankrupt!
©2023, Chris Werre