The Watcher and Influencer of hearts

God holds men accountable for the integrity of their actions, and yet is actively supporting, directing, and regulating those actions for his perfect will.

“If you say, “Behold, we didn’t know this;” doesn’t he who weighs the hearts consider it? He who keeps your soul, doesn’t he know it? Shall he not render to every man according to his work?”

Proverbs 24:12

Yahweh is he represented as one who weighs the heart and keeps the soul. Scripture conveys the idea that Yahweh is observing, and guarding, and watching at all times. To say that he observes is to say that he keeps watch, as one who is guarding a fortress. A watcher must be alert and aware at all times of what’s going on. But a watcher is also a preserver, or a guard who protects what he has guarding. These meanings bleed together in the descriptions of how God is intimately involved with the inmost motives of his people.

Proverbs 16:2: “All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but Yahweh weighs the motives.”
Proverbs 21:2: “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but Yahweh weighs the hearts.”

As a weigher of hearts, he is depicted as a measurer, balancing motives on a scale to see how they measure up. But there is also conveyed a notion of being a regulator of those motives which drive our actions. In this sense, Yahweh is depicted as being actively involved in molding and shaping one’s thoughts toward a desired outcome.

Proverbs 21:1: “The king’s heart is in Yahweh’s hand like the watercourses. He turns it wherever he desires.”

Many great minds over the centuries have pondered these aspects of Yahweh’s involvement within the deepest recesses of those whom he has created. Some have concluded all is predestined and Yahweh’s hand guides everything without exception. Others have concluded that the free will of mankind is the only explanation for how God can hold us accountable for our actions.

However, I am of the opinion that these types of passages demonstrate how all of creation is balanced on the point of a needle. The very actions and motives of our heart are not only known by God but also at times purposefully planted with intent. To my mind, this is why predestination and free will are both sustainable arguments from Scripture, because they are both true, but neither is satisfactory in the extreme.

To be wholly predestined is to be a robot acting out a pre-programmed course of events. To have complete free will is to acknowledge the sovereignty of man above the will of God, hence, making mankind God.
The reality is that God holds men accountable for the integrity of their actions, and yet is actively supporting, directing, and regulating those actions for his perfect will.

I believe the practical key for our understanding lies in recognizing the outcome of our actions which are based on our motives. The more in line our actions are with God‘s word, the more we can know we are doing what’s right in his eyes. The integrity of our actions are the feedback loop on our motives. While this indefinable process of God’s influence on our heart and motives strains our understanding, we are not left without a recognition of the results of that influence in our lives.

We should join with the pleas of David, as he seeks Yahweh’s strength and wisdom in molding and shaping his heart, so that his actions would reflect and conform to the will of  God.

Psalm 51:10-13,17: “Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a right spirit within me. Don’t throw me from your presence, and don’t take your holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation. Uphold me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors your ways. Sinners shall be converted to you. … The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit. A broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”

When we offer up broken hearts, we demonstrate our willingness to conform our lives to God’s standards so that his will can be accomplished. Allowing his influence on our hearts through his Spirit completes the purpose of God to establish his ways in our hearts, and not just in a book.

Integrity is consistency of action with the revealed will of Yahweh. We should welcome his scrutiny and influence as a watcher and influencer of hearts while we seek to obediently chart our way through this world. The more we do so, the more he is honored and glorified.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive here. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

God evaluates the heart, but our deeds broadcast what’s in there

The deeds reveal what is truly in the heart.

Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but Yahweh weighs the hearts.

Proverbs 21:2

Most people in our Western culture who have any ideas about God will typically have the understanding that God knows everything about everybody, including internal thoughts. According to popular perception, the God of the Bible is all about judgment and motives.

This kind of understanding in Western culture is driven by the way God is depicted in the Bible, and Proverbs 21:2 is one of those that highlights that characteristic of God. A parallel passage in the Proverbs is consistent with this as well.

All a man’s ways are pure in his own eyes, but his motives are weighed out by the LORD.

Proverbs 16:2

But what is less recognized by the general population is the connection between the heart and actions. While most people are of the opinion that God is some sort of cosmic Santa Claus, just knowing good people from bad people, he really doesn’t have to go that far into an individual’s psyche to know what they think, because their actions bear out what’s in their heart.

For example, when Yeshua was confronting the Pharisees regarding their love of money and earthly wealth, he let them know how God’s perspective varied greatly from their own.

So He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is prized among men is detestable before God.

Luke 16:15

God (or anyone, for that matter) can know what’s in someone’s heart because of what they value. What the Pharisees prized (wealth) was detestable to God, especially in light of the fact that they were supposed to be the shepherds of his people. It’s not that God hates money, it’s just that he has revealed that when money is valued above one’s dedication to God, it has become an idol, and he detests idolatry in any form.

But the key takeaway was that their hearts were revealed by their actions.

If you say, “Behold, we did not know about this,” does not He who weighs hearts consider it? Does not the One who guards your life know? Will He not repay a man according to his deeds?

Proverbs 24:12

Even back here in Proverbs, we can see how the weighing of hearts is connected to an evaluation of someone’s deeds. The deeds reveal what is truly in the heart. This is also evident in the prophecies of Jeremiah.

I, Yahweh, search minds and test hearts. I will reward each person for what he has done. I will reward him for the results of his actions.

Jeremiah 17:10

While God can certainly know what’s in our hearts, he typically does not need to look much further than our actions to know what resides there. Unless what we believe lines up with what he teaches us through his Word, our lives will likely bear out the errors of our own thinking, what we think is “right in our own eyes.” Integrity is ensuring that our hearts and our actions are working together to fulfill the righteous purposes and will of God.

If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive here. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.