There is something delightfully pleasing about doing something with one’s whole heart. Even the dreariest of tasks can take on meaning and purpose when we put all of ourselves, so to speak, into it. It is the highest expression of effort and even if the end results were not as expected, not very many people would argue with maximum effort. We can deduce, therefore, that it is possible to do a thing half-heartedly or even without much ‘heart’ into it. Sort of like going through the motions.
I thought of this as I read and reread David’s “I will praise thee, O LORD, with my whole heart” (Psalm 9:1a, KJV), taking note of two important determinations in that desire. Firstly, a casual reading of the verse does not capture the emphatic nature of the expression “I will”. The “will” is the mental faculty by which we deliberately choose or decide upon a course of action and implies a diligent purposefulness. Among all the options available to the Psalmist, he chose diligently and purposely to praise. That totally ignores whatever circumstances he found himself in at the time. His praise would not be situational. Secondly, he was not just content to praise but he purposed to do so “with my whole heart”. On this verse, I agree with noted Bible Scholar Matthew Henry who writes, “If we would praise God acceptably, we must praise him in sincerity, with our hearts, and not only with our lips, and be lively and fervent in the duty, with our whole heart.”
In Old Testament times, Moses, Joshua, Samuel, Joel, to name a few, all challenged the people to serve/love God “with all your heart”. Through Jeremiah God declares, “Ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart” (29:13). When Jesus was asked which was the great commandment in the law, He mentioned two, the first being, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matt. 22:37). God has not changed. What He desired then, He still desires now: nothing but the very best of ourselves, all of our hearts, in love, in praise, and in worship.
It is not enough to merely go through the motions as God takes no delight in such actions. In this quiet time of reflection, now is as good a time as any for a heart check. “I will praise thee, O Lord, with my whole heart”; can you say that? Remember, it is not based on situations or emotions; it is a heart thing.