John T. Willis

Monday, September 05, 2016

The Heart Thinks--VI

One understandings the meaning of the word "heart" in the Bible by paying careful attention to verbs connected with the heart. Several verbs connect the "heart" with the mental capacity of thinking. In such texts, the "heart" means the "mind."

1. Psalm 37:31: "The law of their God is in their hearts." Isaiah 63:4: "The day of vengeance was in my heart." Jeremiah 23:26: "How long? Will the hearts of the prophets ever turn back--those who prophesy lies, and who prophesy the deceit of their own heart?" The context of each of these passages clearly uses the word "heart" in the sense of the mental capacity of thinking.

2. When Samuel first met Saul in 1 Samuel 9:19, he said: "I am the seer; go up before me to the shrine, for today you shall eat with me, and in the morning I will let you go and will tell you ALL THAT IS ON YOUR MIND [Hebrew, heart]." In the description of King Hezekiah of Judah in
2 Chronicles 32:27-33, the narrator writes in verse 31: "So also in the matter of the envoys of the officials of Babylon, who had been sent to him [Hezekiah] to inquire about the sign that had been done in the land, God left him to himself, in order to test him and know ALL THAT WAS IN HIS HEART." [Here, the heart means the thinking, the mind]. Psalm 84:5 [Heb. 84:6] says:
        Happy are those whose strength is in you,
               in whose HEART [thinking] are the highways to Babylon.
All these texts use the noun "heart" in the sense of thinking.

3. Referring to Artaxerxes, king of Persia, Ezra 7:27 says: "Blessed be the Lord, the God of our ancestors, who put such a thing as this into the HEART of the king to glorify the house [temple] of the Lord in Jerusalem." God PUT the idea to glorify the Jerusalem temple into the HEART or thinking of Artaxerxes. Nehemiah says to his audience in Nehemiah 7:5: "Then my God put into my mind [Hebrew heart] to assemble the nobles and the officials and the people to be enrolled in genealogy." In these texts, the verb "put" connects the "heart" with the idea of thinking, the thinking of the mind.

4. Several texts connect the "heart" with saying or speaking. For example, the composer of Ecclesiastes says in Ecclesiastes 1:16: "I said to myself," literally in Hebrew, "I communed with my own heart," that is, "thinking." Deuteronomy 15:9 says: "Beware careful that you do not entertain a mean thought [Hebrew, "beware that there be not a mean thought in your heart"]." Deuteronomy 6:6 says: "Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart," that is, thinking.

5. Biblically speaking, the "heart" is the receptacle and the dispenser of words. Thinking goes into and out of the heart.
     a. In Job 22:22, Eliphaz advises Job:
                 Receive instruction from his [God's] mouth,
                        and lay up his words in your heart.
God gives his words to human beings for them to receive in the heart, thinking, mind.
     b. God's people make this confession in Isaiah 59:12-13:
                 For our transgressions before you are many,
                         and our sins testify against us.
                 Our transgressions indeed are with us,
                         and we know our iniquities,
                 transgressing, and denying the Lord,
                         and turning away from following our God,
                 talking oppression and revolt,
                         conceiving lying words and UTTERING THEM FROM THE HEART.
Here, the heart is the dispenser of lying WORDS.

Thus, several passages in the Bible use the word "heart" in the sense of thinking, and thinking is a capacity of the mind. Hence, the heart in these texts means the mind.

Share YOUR thoughts with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis


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