Having posed a question in verse 9 (“How can a young person stay on the path of purity?”), and armed with the answer, the author of Psalm 119 apparently has a desire to keep their way pure. In verses 10-11, this psalm elaborates on what the author (or someone reciting this psalm on their own) is doing to achieve that goal.
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.
Psalms 119:10-11 NIV
In this passage, note that the author isn’t just reading the Scriptures (i.e., God’s Word), but seeking God. I think that it’s important not to separate God from His written Word: A book without God is – at best – just good advice, and a God without a book is perhaps unknowable. Instead, though, we have a God who shows us who He is and what He is like through the Bible, and a Bible that brings us closer to God if we follow what it teaches us. God and the Bible are related: the Bible is God’s Word, and He continues to speak through it.
We may have heard verse 11 (about hiding God’s word in our heart) before, but what does it mean to hide – or, as the NASB translation says, “treasure” – God’s word in our heart? I think that the easiest way for us to do this is to learn and memorize scripture. (See also Jeremiah 31:31-34 and 2 Corinthians 3:3, which were suggested by the Lookout, cited below.)
Now, before you panic, I think that each of us has a different capacity for this. There are those who can recite entire books of the Bible from memory, and others of us who have learned some number of individual verses or passages. Still others may struggle to memorize even a few verses (but can learn in other ways), just because of how God created them. Whatever your ability to memorize God’s Word, though, I encourage you to use that to capture as much as you can in your “memory banks”.
However, I’m not convinced that memorizing passages exactly (i.e., as translated into our own language) is the only way to hide God’s Word in our heart.
To be clear, if you learned lots of verses for Vacation Bible School or Bible Bowl, or on your own, that’s great! I’m not saying that this isn’t a good idea. In fact, if we can memorize more and more Bible passages, so much the better for us. On the other hand, if we can understand the meaning of passages from the Bible, and what they mean to us, I believe that this is also a helpful way of tucking God’s messages into our heart, even if we don’t remember the exact words or phrasing of a translator.
In addition, if we consider the idea of “treasuring” God’s Word in our hearts, there seems to be an element of appreciating God’s Word, and understanding its value. The value of knowing God’s Word isn’t in being able to brag about how much we’ve memorized (nor in throwing verses – out of context – into the face of someone debating a point), but in experiencing how great it is that we can hear from God and learn from Him.
Remember, there are faiths whose gods never speak to them on a regular basis. It is almost unfathomable that a creator would take such an interest in talking with His creation, but yet that is exactly what God revealed to us about Himself, through His Word (both the Bible and Jesus Christ).
We also need to remember why it’s important to hide God’s Word in our hearts: so that we don’t sin. For instance, atheists can memorize all kinds of verses (and some of them do, in order to try and trip up Christians in arguments) without having those verses make a difference in their lives towards God. (By the way, if you are an atheist visiting this site, welcome! I’m glad you’re here, and welcome any questions you’d like to genuinely discuss, although I would suggest other sites for “flame wars” and ranting – I’m not really into that.)
Those who seek to live righteously can’t just store some words in our brains (like inert data), but must use God’s Word to influence their decisions – our daily choices about what to do – and we must use God’s Word as a regular guide to our walk.
I like what David Faust wrote in this week’s Lookout (see link below): “We hide God’s Word in our hearts for the same reason cooks store spices in the pantry and mechanics keep tools in the garage—so we’ll have the right resources on hand when we need them.”
There’s a little break in verse 12 from what the author is doing to internalize God’s Word, but I think it’s an important note: Rather than just “trying really hard” to study God’s Word, it’s good to pause and ask God Himself to help us learn from Him, too. And, this verse begins with praise to God, which is also a good habit to practice.
Returning to ways that the author (and we) can use to learn and follow God’s Word, we find more of these in verses 13-16, including:
- Reciting them out loud
- Rejoicing in following God’s statues
- Meditation (which is not emptying our mind, but rather focusing on something worthwhile – in this case, God’s precepts)
- Delighting in God’s decrees
- Remaining faithful to God’s word, by not neglecting it
So, if you want to do the right thing, don’t follow other people’s opinions, or count on the Internet for answers. Don’t try to figure out what society says is right (this month), or just try to fit in. Instead, study the Bible (including the narratives and teaching of Jesus Christ), listen to the Holy Spirit (whose indwelling is something the author of this psalm may not have experienced in the same way as Christians) and let God provide you with direction and guidance every step of the way.
From Sunday School lesson prepared for October 23, 2022
- The Lookout, October 23, 2022, © 2022 Christian Standard Media.
- Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
- Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Copyright by The Lockman Foundation.
- The College Press NIV Commentary, Psalms, Volume 2, Walter D. Zorn, © 2004, College Press Publishing Co., Joplin, MO.
2 thoughts on “How to Hide God’s Word In Your Heart”
Through out my life my prayer has been “Lord, whatever word of yours is in my heart, put it to good use’. As a kid I hid stuff and couldn’t find it again….OK as an adult I still do that. May we not do that with God’s word but as you say “put it to practice”
LikeLiked by 1 person
I’m glad to hear that I’m not the only one still looking for the things that I hid away. I agree with you that God’s Word is indeed worth that extra investment to be sure that we can find it again. Thank you for sharing!
LikeLiked by 1 person