The problem of a wandering heart
Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing says it well,
O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart,
O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.
Psalm 19 encourages us that when we value and engage the Bible with our heart, soul and mind, we will be warned (11) and be able to discern when our hearts begin to wander (see discern his error in v12). Shagah is the word NIV translates as error but it has the idea of going astray or wandering as when sheep roam without their shepherd (Ezek 34:16) or a blind man is led astray (Deut 27:18).
Psalm 19:12 and 13 gives us three ways in which we may be prone to wander–three ways love and engagement with the Word can protect us.
“Hidden faults” is how the NIV translates sahar. When we allow God (and others) to speak to our heart from his Word, we have less chance of being involved in secret activities such as David (“you did it secretly” 2 Sam 12:12), secret idolatry (Deut 27:15), secret murder (Deut 27:24) or thinking we can slander others in secret (Psalm 101:4).
Pride reigns in a heart not submitted to God! May his word held close to our heart protect us from presuming that God will bless us when we are not doing what God approves. An example of presumptuous sin is found in Deut 1:42-43 when the children of Israel decided they would go up even though God had not told them to do so. The result: Disaster! Pride can easily deceive us into thinking we are safe (Jer 49:16). May we not presume upon the grace of God but rather live in true faith according to what he has promised us! With presumptuous sins, we are aware what is wrong but we assume that we do not have to follow. Bad choice! (Mal 3:13-14; Psalm 86:14; Jer 43:2)
Controlled by sin
The Psalmist prays in verse 13, “let them not have dominion over me.” Too many men understand the rule and dominion (mashal) sin can have in their lives. We don’t plan it that way but it comes following a period of drifting and sliding, following a time when we have not guarded our hearts.
When we spend time in the Word, we can avoid secret activities, presumptuous sins and being controlled by sin. We can live a life that is full of integrity–blameless and pure (tamim in v13) and one in which we are not condemned by the guilt or shame of sin (innocent of great transgression in v13). We can live lives of freedom.