God’s Word in the Heart

I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (v. 11).

- Psalm 119:9-16

God in His grace has decided to work through the means of His Word to accomplish His purposes for His people. He works through the preaching of His revelation at the start of our walk with Him, bringing us to new life via the Spirit-blessed teaching and exposition of the “word of truth” (James 1:18). Our Creator also works through His Word after conversion, deepening our knowledge of Him, instructing us in how to serve in His kingdom, and strengthening us to resist temptation.

Psalm 119 takes a special interest in the ongoing place of the Word of God in the life of the believer. Having proclaimed a great blessing on those who endeavor to obey the Lord according to His law (vv. 1-8), the psalmist expands on his point in verses 9-16, emphasizing the practicality of putting Scripture to work in one’s life. The key verse in this section is verse 11, in which the psalmist confesses that he has stored up God’s Word in his heart in order that he might not sin against the Lord. Commentators note that this does not refer simply to memorization of the Bible, although that certainly plays a part. Hiding the Word of God in one’s heart involves both knowing what our Creator has revealed and living one’s entire life in devotion to the Lord. Hiding the Word in our hearts does not mean only knowing what it says, although it is not less than that. It also involves structuring one’s life around its precepts, being so thoroughly under its dominion that it is embedded in one’s everyday life (Deut. 6:4-9).

John Calvin comments on the necessity of hiding the Word of God in our hearts by drawing an analogy: “Among scholars, those whose knowledge is confined to books, if they have not the book always before them, readily discover their ignorance; in like manner, if we do not imbibe the doctrine of God, and are well acquainted with it, Satan will easily surprise and entangle us in his meshes. Our true safeguard, then, lies not in a slender knowledge of his law, or in a careless perusal of it, but in hiding it deeply in our hearts.” It is not enough to have a copy of Scripture on the shelf that can be accessed at any time. We must take our Bibles down and read them, study them, meditate on them, all the while asking the Holy Spirit to teach us His ways (Ps. 119:12). This does not mean we must all have the same patterns of daily devotion, but it does mean that we all make time to learn from God’s Word.

Coram Deo

When we have the Word of God hidden in our hearts, we are equipped to resist temptation because we are better able to discern what is truly good from that which is not good or edifying. We also acquire the wisdom for navigating the treacherous roads in our lives, enabling us to steer clear of problems that can entice us to sin. Are you making regular time for the study of God’s Word in your life both privately and as part of the corporate body of Christ?

Passages for Further Study

Ezra 7:10
Proverbs 22:17–19
Colossians 3:16
Hebrews 4:12–13

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