the direction of our hearts

Psalm 111
For Sunday, February 1, 2009
Fourth Sunday After Epiphany

This Psalm has in its opening verse the words, “I will extol the Lord will all my heart.” What does it mean to extol the Lord with all of one’s heart? Surprisingly, the Hebrew verb being used here has as its core meaning “to throw or cast” (YaDaH). The Hebrew verb case in which YaDaH is used here (Hiphil) means “to give thanks, laud, or praise”. So, “to extol” in this context might be captured in the idea of casting thanksgiving in a certain direction. The direction in which the Psalmist is casting his thanksgiving is to the Lord, and he’s doing so with all of his heart.

This raises several questions for me. First, is there thanksgiving in my heart? As believers, we have every reason to be thankful, because God has led us into the promised land of the gospel, which was not land to which we had any prior claim (v. 6). Yet how often do I lose sight of this amidst the petty concerns of the day? I’m thankful this morning for the time, talent, and treasure which God has bestowed upon me (and you) in generous measure. What a joy to think I can bring these things back to Him and say, “How would you have me direct my heart today so that you will most be praised?”

Moving to the end of this Psalm we read about where to find the beginning of wisdom (v. 10). Wisdom is not found in the power of winning an election (please forward to Nancy Pelosi), nor in being the guy with the gold who makes the rules (please forward to the Secretary of the Treasury re: the dollar as the world’s reserve currency). If a person is looking for the beginning of wisdom, where should he turn?

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To Him belongs eternal praise. (v. 10)

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