A Fixed Heart

My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed; I will sing and give praise.” – Psalm 57:7

King David was on the run as he penned these words. We know from the notation at the beginning of this Psalm that this was penned as David was fleeing from Saul for his life and hiding in a cave. In spite of such a difficult and challenging situation around him in his circumstances, David did not let that calamity get down into his heart. His heart was still fixed firmly upon the Lord, trusting in his mercy and providence.

Due to the jealousy of King Saul seeing his power slipping away from him due to his sin, David – now the rightly God-appointed king of Israel – was having to perpetually flee Saul to keep from being killed. He was now having to hide out in a cave to preserve his life from Saul and the other bounty hunters hired by the current king. Suffice to say, David was in a tight spot. “My soul is among lions, and I lie even among them that are set on fire, even the sons of men, whose teeth are spears and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword… They have prepared a net for my steps; my soul is bowed down: they have digged a pit before me, into the midst whereof they are fallen themselves. Selah.” (Psalm 57:4,6) David’s soul felt to be “among lions”, ferocious predators who sought only to slay him. His enemies were like those set on fire, their teeth and tongues were like dangerous weapons of warfare. They had set many traps and pits for him to fall into to destroy him. All of this trouble had caused David’s soul to be “bowed down”.

In spite of such perpetual trouble around him, after reciting all the antagonism of his enemies towards him, that’s when he says, “My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed.” The word “fixed” here means “steadfast, established, stable, resolute.” How could David’s heart and soul (even though it was “bowed down” with trouble, v.6) still be so steadfast and resolute in the midst of such turmoil in his life? It was because his faith and trust in God never wavered in the midst of such severe calamity. He prayed unto God for help and deliverance and he had faith that God would provide.

“Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me; for my soul trusteth in thee; yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast. I will cry unto God most high; unto God that performeth all things for me. He shall send from heaven, and save me from the reproach of him that would swallow me up. Selah. God shall send forth his mercy and his truth.” (Psalm 57:1-3) David took solace for his heart and soul in the refuge and protection of the shadow of God’s wings. David prayed to God for mercy and he believed that the “God that performeth all things for me” would send his mercy and truth and save him from his enemies. In short, David’s heart was steadfast and resolute in the midst of tribulation because “my soul trusteth in thee” (v.1) Speaking of the good man from verse 5, “He shall not be afraid of evil tidings: his heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord” (Psalm 112:7, see Psalm 108:1 as well) How can this man not be afraid and distraught when evil tidings come? Why is his heart fixed, steadfast, and resolute? Because his heart “trusts in the Lord”.

Jesus said in closing his three-chapter sermon in John 16:33, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In this world ye shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” We are guaranteed to have tribulation in this world (ye “shall” have tribulation). However, in spite of that tribulation, we can still be joyful and happy. How? “But be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” Belief in the overcoming power of Christ in this world will give cheer to the troubled heart. Remember how Jesus began this extended sermon in John 14:1, “Let not your heart be troubled; ye believe in God, believe also in me.” The challenge to maintain a steadfast and fixed heart in our lives, is to not let the tribulation of this world sink down into our hearts. We’re going to have trouble in a sin-cursed earth, in sin-cursed bodies, dealing with sinful people. However, we cannot let that worldly trouble sink down and quench our joy down in our hearts.

Paul gave us a great pattern for properly acknowledging the trouble in the world around us, but still not letting that trouble discourage our heart in any way. It’s not healthy to ignore our problems and just pretend that there’s not real problems in this world. That type of false reality will crumble under the pressure of severe trials. Instead, we acknowledge the challenges around us, but we instead trust in God to deliver us in the midst of them all. “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed; but not in despair; Persecuted but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed.” (2 Cor. 4:8-9, I’m confident each of these things could be echoed by David in Psalm 57 as well.) Life is not easy street; no, we are troubled on every side; but in spite of trouble every direction I turn, I’m not distressed; I’m not discouraged. We are perplexed; I don’t understand fully what is happening or why; I don’t even know what to do in the midst of all this trouble; but in spite of my lack of understanding, we are still not in despair. We may be persecuted and cast down; but we are not forsaken and not destroyed. Why? Because Paul, just like David, trusted in his God.

Finally, David concludes this verse by declaring “I will sing and give praise.” In a cave, running for his life, enemies like lions setting traps to slay him, might seem like an odd place to sing and give praise to God. David here has displayed what Jesus was teaching us in John 14-16: don’t let your hearts be troubled because of this world; keep your heart fixed, steadfast, and joyful because of the greatness and goodness of our God. “O God my heart is fixed. I will sing and give praise unto thee.” (Psalm 108:1) A fixed, steadfast, and resolute heart should always be found singing praise and giving honor to our God. There are many legitimate troubles in this world that if we let them get down into our hearts can quench our joy and steadfast, fixed gaze upon the Lord. Praise of the Lord and belief in Christ is the remedy for any symptom of a troubled heart in our lives. Lord, give us fixed hearts to trust in your name. “Let not your heart be troubled; ye believe in God, believe also in me.” (John 14:1)

Originally published April 2019

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