John T. Willis

Monday, September 26, 2016

The Heart Decides, Determines, Wills--X

The word "heart" is used frequently in the Hebrew Bible with three prepositions expressing the functions of resolving, willing, determining, deciding.

1. The Hebrew preposition be means "in."
     a. According to 1 Chronicles 17:1-2, David said to the prophet Nathan, "I am living in a house of cedar, but the ark of the covenant of the Lord is under a tent." Nathan responded: "Do all that you have in HEART [NRSV mind], for God is with you." In this context, to have something in the heart means to resolve or determine. See also 2 Samuel 7:3.
     b. 2 Kings 10:30 says: "The Lord said to Jehu, 'Because you have done well in carrying out what
                                                     I consider right,
                                            and in accordance with all that was IN MY HEART have dealt with the
                                                      house of Ahab,
                                            your sons of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel.'"
In this context, what was "in God's heart" was what he decided or willed to do. The same language appears in 1 Samuel 2:35; Jeremiah 3:15.
     c. When Jonathan discussed with the young man who carried his armor and told him, "nothing can hinder the Lord from saving by many or by few," the young man replied in 1 Samuel 14:6-7: "Do all that your HEART [NRSV mind] inclines to. I am with you; as your HEART [NRSV mind] is, so is mine." Here the heart of Jonathan decides what to do next in this situation.
     d. Describing the intention or plan of Sennacherib, king of Assyria, Isaiah 10:7 says:
             But this is not what he intends,
                    nor does he have this in mind,
              but it is IN HIS HEART to destroy,
                    and to cut off nations not a few.
That which is "in the Heart" of Sennacherib is his determination, decision.

2. The Hebrew preposition ke means "according to."
     a. In David's prayer of thanksgiving to Yahweh, he says in 2 Samuel 7:21:
          Because of your promise, and ACCORDING TO YOUR OWN HEART,
          you have wrought all this greatness, so that your servant [David] may know it.
That which is "according to God's heart" is God's will or decision. The same idea appears in 1 Samuel 13:14; 1 Chronicles 17:19.
     b. In a prayer in behalf of some king of Israel, the psalmist says in Psalm 20:4:
         May he grant you YOUR HEART'S DESIRE,
               and fulfill all your plans.
What is according to the king's heart is his plans, decisions, determinations.

3. The  Hebrew preposition `im means "with."
    a. According to 1 Kings 8:17, Solomon says in the dedication of the Jerusalem temple:
           My father David had it in mind [Hebrew with heart] to build a house for the name of the Lord,
                          the God of Israel.
What David had "in mind" or "with heart" is what he planned, decided, determined.
    b. When Solomon asked for wisdom, God responded in 2 Chronicles 1:11:
           Because this was IN YOUR HEART [Hebrew says "with your heart"],
           and you have not asked for possessions, wealth, honor, or the life of those who hate you,
           and have not even asked for long life, but have asked for wisdom and knowledge for yourself
           that you may rule my people over whom I have made you king,
           wisdom and knowledge are granted to you.
What was "in" or "with" the heart of Solomon was what he decided or determined.

4. When Yahweh commanded his people to practice kindness and mercy to one another, and not oppress the widow, orphan, alien, or poor, Zechariah 7:12 says:
      They MADE THEIR HEARTS ADAMANT in order not to hear the law
       and the words that the Lord of hosts had sent by his spirit through the former prophets.
Here, making the hearts of sinful people adamant means to make a strict decision not to obey God.

Share YOUR thoughts and insights and problems and issues and responses with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis


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