A Quick Bible Study Vol. 191: What the Hebrew Bible Says About the Heart

A Quick Bible Study Vol. 191: What the Hebrew Bible Says About the Heart

Thanks for joining our study. The topic is rooted in a quote from Speaker of the House Mike Johnson. Last month, after the mass shooting in Maine, he said, “The problem is the human heart. It’s not guns.”

Immediately, I felt called to write a future study about biblical passages and the “human heart.” Therefore, we examine the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible today and, next week, the New Testament.

The Old Testament’s heart-related verses convey a range of perspectives apart from the heart’s anatomical purpose. On one end of the spectrum, the Bible does not shy away from stating the heart’s inherent flaws and its role in rationalizing human behavior to commit a multitude of sins.

Conversely, the heart is central to transformation — allowing God to shape and renew us to serve and glorify Him. Moreover, passages illustrate how our heart grows in love and serves as the foundation for all complexities of the human condition, especially emotions and morality.

The first time the word “heart” appears in the Hebrew Bible, it is about the organ being central to behavioral thoughts:

“The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time” (Genesis 6:5). (Today, many folks echo God’s observation.)

Below, God provides the most significant behavioral and faith guidance to the Children of Israel:

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:5 ).

If that verse sounds familiar, it is because Jesus quoted it when asked:

“Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” ‘The most important one,’ answered Jesus, ‘is this’: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” ‘The second is this:’ “Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these’” (Mark 12: 28-31). (See Vol. 33 for further study.)

So far, we have learned that the human heart produces evil thoughts, contrasted by the heart’s capability to love God to the fullest extent.

The following passage teaches us an important lesson about how humans view humans compared to God’s perspective:

“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart’” (1 Samuel 16:7). 

As one would expect, Psalms (prayers) reference the heart more than any Hebrew Bible book — evoking loss, pain, hope, joy, defeat, and love. Here are representative verses:

“I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds” (Psalm 9:1).

“May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer” (Psalm 19:14).

Here is our first reference to the heart being “broken”:

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34-18).

And our first reference to the heart having “desires”:

“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4).

In the verse below, David makes a “heartfelt” request:

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

We all want a “smart” heart:

“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).

I could do an entire study on Psalm verses that mention the heart, but lastly, here are two back-to-back verses that relate to obedience:

“I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:10-11).

Moving on, the book of Proverbs has numerous heart references. These are standouts starting with a familiar passage:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

The two Proverbs below are worth pondering as you think about your life:

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

“As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart” (Proverbs 27:19).

In the following two Jeremiah verses, the Lord is speaking — SO PAY ATTENTION:

“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? ‘I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve’” (Jeremiah 17:9-10).

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13). 

The Book of Ezekiel is where God conveys a powerful, stern, “heartfelt” message to the Prophet Ezekiel when the Lord promises His people a return to Israel:

“Therefore say: This is what the Sovereign Lord says: ‘I will gather you from the nations and bring you back from the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you back the land of Israel again. They will return to it and remove all its vile images and detestable idols. I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God’” (Ezekiel 11:17-20).

That passage is the Almighty’s version of a “mike drop.”

Here is a preview of next week’s New Testament heart passages. Given the state of the world, this verse “spoke” to me when Jesus said:

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

Take heart, everyone! Listen to and trust in Jesus. Amen!

Myra Kahn Adams is a conservative political and religious writer with numerous national credits. Her book, “Bible Study For Those Who Don’t Read The Bible,” reprints the first 56 volumes of this popular study. “Part 2,” with the same title, reprints Vols. 57-113. Order it here.   

Myra is also Executive Director of SignFromGod.org and the National Shroud of Turin Exhibit. Both are educational donorsupported ministries dedicated to building a permanent Shroud of Turin exhibit in Washington, D.C. Visit the life-sized Shroud replica in D.C. Contact: MyraAdams01@gmail.com.

Myra Kahn Adams

Myra Kahn Adams

Myra Kahn Adams is a media producer and political writer. She was on the 2004 Bush campaign's creative team and the 2008 McCain campaign's ad council. Writing credits include, National Review, Washington Examiner, World Net Daily, Breitbart and many others. Contact Myra at MyraAdams01@gmail.com


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