A Religion of the Heart

Psalm 1:2 says of the godly man: “But his delight is in the Law of Yahweh, and in His Law he meditates day and night.” It is significant that this very first Psalm sets the tone that it is the HEART that makes the difference in genuine religion, not merely routine deeds and practices. Those two words “delight” and “meditates” are key.

“Delight” means more than just a rote “practice”, but indicates a heart attitude. It is one thing to make yourself “read” God’s word; it is another to really delight in it. When you delight in something, you do not have to make yourself do it; it is what you want to do. The same is true with a proper understanding of the word “meditates.” When you truly delight in something, it dominates your thoughts all the time. Men don’t have to make themselves think about football; women don’t have to schedule time to dream about their beloved — they do it naturally because it is what they delight in!

Psalm 1 says that the truly righteous man “delights” in God’s word, and “meditates” in it day and night. That he “delights” in it, and “meditates” in it means that it is heartfelt, from his innermost desires. This indicates that the religion which is pleasing to God does not consist of rote actions, but comes from the heart. There is a real turning from evil practices and associations, as we see in :1 (“does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, stand in the path of sinners” etc.) but it is more than mere legalistic avoidance of evil. In true, godly religion, there is a genuine heart change which results in new desires and thoughts.

It is significant that right here at the outset of this great book of worship, Psalm 1 sets forth the standard that genuine religion does not merely consist of certain prescribed actions, but must include a new heart, with changed desires. Every sincere person should ask himself: “Is this what I have?”, and if it is found lacking, should desperately seek from God the change of heart and desires which only He can bring through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.

About Shawn Thomas

My blog, shawnethomas.com, provides brief devotions from own personal daily Bible reading, as well as some of my sermons, book reviews, and family life experiences.
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