How do we have a divided heart? We love to quote Hebrews 11:1 as the definition of faith. That’s a good thing. But it also shows us the two sides of our hearts. There are things we see. We can feel them and we endure them. Then there are the things we cannot see. And faith means we count the things we cannot see as real. That’s true. God isn’t seen but He is everlasting. The world we can see will pass away. And two easy examples to add are:
- Lot’s wife
- Serving two masters
Lot’s wife believed enough to leave Sodom but her look back showed where her heart was. And the New Testament is clear that no one can serve two masters. And which of us has not had a heart filled with hurt and hope at the same time? We can see what hurts us and we hope in what we cannot see. It’s a real situation. So identifying the issue of a divided heart is the first step in addressing the problem.
The Divided Heart: Desire To Heal
How did the writer of Psalm 43 take practical steps to conquer his divided heart? First, we must recognize the presence of Grace. God’s grace kept him from going so far that he didn’t want to change. The verses that follow show he had a great desire to conquer his heart. He began the psalm by crying out to God. It is not wrong to pray for God to rescue us from our enemies. Those can be:
- Physical or natural disaster
- Lies & Injustice
Praying for rescue, deliverance, and healing is a good thing. It’s also good to pray against evil. And we see the Psalmist doing that. But please notice he also did two other things. It’s possible that one’s desire for vindication or rescue is a purely natural desire. It’s just human nature to want to escape difficulty. There is nothing particularly spiritual or godly about wanting to avoid trouble.
And another aspect of human nature is to want our enemies to be defeated. Why? They represent challenge and difficulty. Vanquishing them is also a path to escaping or avoiding difficulties. But the actions of the psalmist are above the natural order. They are evidence of spiritual life.
Spiritual Nature: Conquering The Divided Heart
His desires show the presence and work of the Holy Spirit. The natural, or fallen, man has no such desire. What the psalmist wants is deeper and more significant than a simple desire for vindication. The first is that he speaks to God (verses 3 and 4) and asks for divine leadership. But the his desire for leadership is that it takes him to God. The natural man would simply ask to be led out of bad circumstances. But the writer’s desire for God’s leadership is more specific. He wanted to be led to God as his exceeding joy.
The second item is that he speaks to his own soul (in verse 5) and calls on his soul to hope in God. In today’s terms, we would call that addressing the person in the mirror. Now those two things are things the devil would never do. And they are not things the natural, fallen, self-centered person would do.
So what did the Psalmist say to God in prayer? What should our prayer be?
Speak To God: Heal The Divided Heart
First, see how the prayer continues in verses 3–4: Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling! Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy, and I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God. This is an amazing prayer. It reveals a man with a rich spiritual experience. We see this in his:
- View of reality
- Sequence of his thoughts
- God-centered goal
- Familiarity with the sanctuary
- Anticipation of unifying his mind and his heart
All this reveals a man who has lived with God and knows God. It is a little amazing that a man like this can feel that God is distant. How could he think or believe that God had rejected him? Again, it’s the difference between what we can see and what we believe by faith. And as we noted in the previous post, we all come face to face with this temptation.
Divided Heart: Higher Desires
And notice that even the idea of vindication is no longer in view. Something far greater is now at stake. There is a much more important victory to be won than victory over people, disease, or disaster. And you can win it even if/when you die. That’s what the psalmist is fighting for as he prays. He wants his life to be lived for God’s glory. And that idea is carried forward to another familiar verse from Hebrews!
We need to identify with this man’s heart and learn from him how to do what we see him doing. This is how we learn from those who have run the race before us. In the next post we will look at the steps this prayer takes. And we can follow an identifiable path to healing.