The Imagination of the Thoughts of the Heart
‘Keep this for ever in the imagination of the thoughts of the heart of Thy people, and prepare (margin, stablish) their heart unto Thee.’—I Chron. xxix. 18.
THE words are probably more familiar to us in another connection: * And God saw . . . that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” There is Satan’s work through the fall; now let us look at God’s work through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.’
What was to be kept for ever in the imagination of the thoughts of the heart? Something that God had put there; for you cannot keep a thing in any place till it is first put there. The people had responded to the appeal of their king, ‘Who then is I willing to consecrate his service this day unto the 1 Lord ? ‘3 As the expression of this service, they ! had offered willingly and rejoicingly to the Lord. ‘What they had offered was all His own: ‘Of thine
1 Gen, vi. 5. 2 Rom. iii. 24. 3 i Chron. xxix. 5.
own have we given Thee.’1 And David acknowledges that it was all of Him that they were enabled (margin, obtained strength) ‘to offer so willingly after this sort.’ Was all this consecration and joy to be a thing of a day? Nay! in his grand inspired prayer, David, foreshadowing the Royal Intercessor, by whom alone we ‘offer up spiritual sacrifices,’ prays, ‘O Lord God, keep this for ever in the imagination of the thoughts of the heart of Thy people.’
Now, does not this precisely meet the fear, the desire, and the need of our souls? I may have yielded myself unto God to-day, I may have sincerely presented myself a living sacrifice to Him2 to-day, but what about to-morrow? My heart is so treacherous, I dare not trust it, I cannot even know it. Who that has consecrated himself to the Lord has not had some such thought! In too many instances, the thought is brooded over till it grows into doubt of His power; and then, of course, we begin to sink, for only by faith do we stand or walk in the bright path of consecration. Doubt indulged soon becomes doubt realized.
He who by His free grace and mighty power put it into our hearts must be equally willing and able to keep it there. If He can keep it there for one day,—nay, for one hour,—He can keep it—how long? Two days? A whole year? What saith the Scripture?’ For Ever.’ Yes, but He only; not ourselves. We cannot ‘keep ‘ it one minute. The more totally we distrust our own ability to put or to keep any right thing whatever in our minds, the more we shall see that we may and must totally trust His power.
11 Chron. xxix. 14. 2 Rom. vi. 13; ib. xii. i.
There is real comfort in knowing that every imagination of the thoughts of the natural heart is only evil continually, because this shows how really He is working in us when we find Him putting and keeping holy things in our minds. We may be quite sure no Godward thought comes natural to us; but His new covenant is: ‘I will put My laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts.’1
The words are very remarkable and far-reaching. We feel that they go to the very depths, that it is our whole mental being which is to be thus pervaded with the incense of consecration; not that it is to be kept only in some inner recess of the heart, and not equally so in the mental consciousness. ‘Keep this for ever in the imagination,’ so that the mind (margin, imagination) may be stayed on Thee, and the keeping in perfect peace may result.2 Just the very thing that seems most curbless, the mental lightning that seems too quick for us! The flashing wings that used to bear us too swiftly whither we would not, shall be folded over the golden purpose of consecration. ‘In the imagination of the thoughts’ ‘Bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.’ And then the peace of God enters in to garrison the heart and thoughts (for it is the same word, here translated ‘ mind ‘). ‘In the imagination of the thoughts of the heart,’ the very central self, the inner citadel of the soul.
1 Heb. viii. 8-10. 8 Isa. xxvi, 3.
That shall be ‘ established with grace,’ stablished unblameable in holiness, ‘fixed ‘ so that it shall sing and give praise; for Thou, Lord, ‘hast heard the desire of the humble: Thou wilt establish their heart.’
We rejoice in His omniscience; for, because’the Lord searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts,’1 we are fully persuaded that what He has promised He is able also to perform.2
‘Only for Jesus!’ Lord, keep it for ever
Sealed on the heart and engraved on the life;
Pulse of all gladness, and nerve of endeavour,
Secret of rest, and the strength of our strife.