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The Heart of Christian Living - Part 1: Key Old Testament “Heart“ VerseS From

Updated: Sep 1, 2023

The word “heart” is an important word in the Bible and is used often. The focus of this blog series is to include some of the key verses that make important points for our Christian living from both the Old Testament and the New Testament.

According to Dr. Waltke, “’Heart’ (leb/lebab) is the most important anthropological term in the Old Testament . . . but the English language has no equivalent. It occurs 46 times in Proverbs and 858 times in the Old Testament” (2004, 90).


Deuteronomy 6:5: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” (Jesus cites this verse in Matthew 22: 37.)

“The call for an undivided, whole heart is a recurring theme of Scripture. Since God is one, his greatest command is to love him with ‘all’ of our heart (Deut. 6:5; cf. 10:12; 11:13; 13:3; 30:2). He promises to let himself be found if one seeks him with ‘all’ of his heart (Deut. 4:29; Ps. 119:2). Six times the psalmist in Psalm 119 writes relating to God and his Word with ‘all’ of his heart.” (Saucy, 2013, 61).


1 Samuel 16:7: “But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him [David will be anointed as the future king, not his older brother]. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”


Psalm 51:10: “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”


Proverbs 4:23: “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

“This direction or bent of the heart [wise, pure, or perverse] determines its decisions and thus the persons’ actions. . . . Since the heart is the center of all of a person’s emotional-intellectual-religious-moral activity, it must be safeguarded above all things ([Prov] 4:23)” (Waltke, 2004, 91-92).

“It . . . is the heart that governs all activity” (Waltke, 2004, 298)


Proverbs 7:1-3: “My son, keep my words and store up my commands within you. Keep my commands and you will live; guard my teachings as the apple of your eye. Bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart” (emphasis added).

“Most importantly, however, the figure [“write on the tablets of your heart”] connotes their indelible impression on one’s character. As they are assimilated as a way of life within a person’s governing center, that person’s character changes and develops so that one keeps [the commands] from within” (Waltke, 2004, 369).


Proverbs 23:19: “Listen, my son, and be wise, and set your heart on the right path.”


Proverbs 17:3: “The crucible for silver and the furnace is gold, but the Lord tests the heart.” (also see Prov 16:2)


Ecclesiastes 10:2: “The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left.

“[Ecclesiastes] Verse 2 depicts a theme that is fundamental to wisdom, that of the two ways. Here Qohelet notes that the heart of the fool inclines in a different direction from the of the wise person. The main point is that their heart directions are antithetical.” (Bartholomew, 2009, 321)


Deep spiritual formation requires that we attend to the core of our self—our heart—and yield to God’s good work within.

Next blog - Part 2: Key Old Testament “Heart” Verses – Prophetic Literature


References:

Bartholomew, Craig. 2009. Ecclesiastes, BCOTWP. Grand Rapids: Baker.

Saucy, Robert L. 2013. Minding the Heart: The Way of Spiritual Transformation. Grand Rapids: Kregel.

Waltke, Bruce K. 2004. The Book of Proverbs: Chapters 1-15, NICOT. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Bible quotations are from the NIV: New International Version.

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