By Rev Angela C Bosfield Palacious
Psalm 119:11 (NIV) says: “I have hidden your word in my heart.”
What does it mean to hide something in one’s heart?
What comes to my mind is that the action of hiding it is to keep it a secret. It is a private experience that may or may not be shared with others. It is a deliberate attempt to have the thought, idea or fact preserved as a permanent influence on one’s future thinking and behaviour.
We are told that the Lord’s mother pondered in her heart the words spoken to her when the baby Jesus was presented in the temple. This suggests prayerful reflection that would never be too far from her mind: “The shepherds they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” (Luke 2: 16-19 NIV)
What do you have hidden in your heart? What do you think about when you have a few moments for your mind to wander from the task at hand?
Cain, we are told in Genesis 4, becomes very angry when his brother Abel’s gift to God is accepted but his own is rejected. He plots murder in his heart and, at an opportune time, murders him.
“The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.
“Then the Lord said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.’
“Now Cain said to his brother Abel, ‘Let’s go out to the field.’ While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.” (Genesis 4: 4-8 NIV).
Similarly, King David carried murderous thoughts in his heart when he decided to have Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband, killed in battle, when she becomes pregnant for him. He marries her but is punished by God for his adultery: “Then David said to him, ‘Stay here one more day, and tomorrow I will send you back.’ So Uriah remained in Jerusalem that day and the next. At David’s invitation, he ate and drank with him, and David made him drunk. But in the evening Uriah went out to sleep on his mat among his master’s servants; he did not go home.
In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it with Uriah. In it he wrote, ‘Put Uriah out in front where the fighting is fiercest. Then withdraw from him so he will be struck down and die.’ (2 Samuel 11:12-15 NIV).
If we hide God’s word in our own heart, then it is there as a constant reminder of who we are called to be. When we are tempted to do what is wrong, to sin against God, we are gently or vigorously brought into a state of awareness. Our conscience pricks us, the Holy Spirit nudges us, and our desire to love and please God first, tortures and torments us.
We find it hard to sleep when we are going against everything that God asks of us. We may find it difficult to eat well and digest our food properly. We might develop headaches or some other psychosomatic illness that comes from being stressed.
This is the whole idea of hiding a spiritual truth in our heart. It is supposed to keep us on the straight and narrow. It is meant to prod us into positive action.
What kind of word should we hide? We need to embrace a word of conviction that speaks of God’s loving kindness, Christ’s willingness to die for us, and the Holy Spirit’s continual presence to guide us into the way of all truth:
“For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Colossians 1:9-14 NIV).
It is good to read the Bible daily and see which verse jumps out at us. This is a fresh word that speaks to our present situation. We need words of encouragement, of conviction, of conversion, of forgiveness, of healing, of enlightenment, of empowerment and of transformation.
Be careful what you hide in your heart. Let it not be something that comes back to haunt you, but rather a word from the Lord to bless you and others.
• Rev Angela Palacious, a motivational speaker and author of several devotional books, is an Anglican priest. She may be contacted at 393-9000 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.