What does it mean to be for the heart to be inclined to God’s Word?
Mediation on Psalm 119:36
January 31, 2013|by Gregg Metcalf|Scripture 105:4|Topic: God’s Word
Inclining the heart toward the testimonies of God, means having the heart turned toward the Word of God. In the Psalmist’s case, he is praying that God would turn his heart toward God’s word rather than having his heart toward any selfish gain. “Incline” is the common translation of the Hebrew word “extend” or “stretch out.” The verb form of this Hebrew word is used some two hundred and fifteen (215) times. The Psalmist is praying that God would “extend” or “stretch out” his heart (soul) to God’s word.
The question that comes to mind is why does the Psalmist need to pray for this to happen? The heart is not naturally turned toward God’s word. It takes the transformation by the Holy Spirit when a person becomes born again by the Spirit of God to desire God’s word. Prior to being regenerated by the Spirit the human “heart” hates the Word of God. The heart has no interest in, nor love for, nor does it delight in God’s word.
One of the critical marks of truly having been born again by the Spirit of God is the presence or awareness of a love for the word of God. Granted this love may be small or faint initially in a new believer, but eventually the Holy Spirit develops a love for God’s word in the heart of a believer.
At least three (3) different times in this Psalm we read of the love that the Psalmist has for God’s word. “And I will delight myself in thy commandments, which I have loved.” (Vs. 47) “O how I love thy law! It is my meditation all the day.” (Vs. 97) “Thy word is very pure, therefore they servant loveth it.” (Vs. 140)
I Peter 2:2 states, “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.” Desiring God’s word in a believer is as natural as a newly born baby’s desire for milk. When a heart has no desire or interest in the word of God there is cause for alarm. That is not to say that we as believers do not go through periodic “dry spells” where our “thirst” for God’s word has been dulled or dried up. When there is an on-going disinterest and/or desire for the Word of God in the heart and soul of an individual, there is good reason to suspect that this heart has not been renewed by the Holy Spirit of God.
The Psalmist prays that God would “bend” all of his thoughts, desires, and interests, in the direction of God’s Word. The reason he prays this, is he knows that only the word of God can turn his heart away from the trivialities of this life and turn his heart toward the deep things of God.
It is unfortunate that the human heart has a tendency to run amok. Our heart can be easily distracted and can be caused to run after the “silliest” if not sinful things. Our heart is constantly bombarded and tempted to run after selfish desires. The Psalmist knew that the only cure for this tendency was the word of God. As a result, his prayer entreated God to always turn or extend his heart away from the vain and temporal things and toward the “full” and eternal (spiritual) things.
The great obstacle or hindrance towards having one’s heart turned to the Word of God is that of covetousness. “…take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.” (Luke 12:15) “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” (Col 3:5)
The great promise of those whose hearts is turned toward the Word of God is that the Word gives both light and wisdom. “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” (Vs. 105) “The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding to the simple.” (Vs. 130) “Moreover by them (God’s statues [words]) is they servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward.” (Psalm 19:11)
Therefore, persistently, passionately, and prayerfully beg God to “incline your heart unto the testimonies of God [word], and away from covetousness.”