I have hidden Your word in my heart that I might not sin against You (Psalm 119:11).
Wake up an old Veteran in the middle of the night and ask for his military service number—and don’t be surprised if he rattles it off without hesitation. If we ask how he can do this, he might reply, “I once learned it by heart.” He would be right, but he would not be alone. Most people have learned important information by heart. This means that they have stored the information so deeply into their memory bank that it is not flushed out by the flood of all newer information.
We might say it is hidden in their heart.
That’s what this psalmist says about words from the Lord his God. This is something we should be able to say.
The human body is an astounding creation. The best medical minds have still not unraveled all of its mysteries. Each new discovery opens the door to greater wonders. We agree with the psalmist who wrote: “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are
wonderful, I know that full well” (Psalm 139:14).
One of the wonderful features provided for humans is our ability to absorb and store things. We absorb oxygen into our bloodstream from the air we breathe into our lungs. We absorb Vitamin D into our bones from the rays of the sun. And we absorb thoughts from the sights and sounds presented to us.
Some of what we absorb stays with us. If it is something bad, it will hurt us. If good, it will help. We want to stay away from toxic sources. Some of them will damage our bodies; some, our minds; and still others, our souls.
The psalmist is most concerned about his soul. He knows how easily he can be led astray by the sinful world around him. He knows how attractive sin is; how misleading temptations can be.
He counters these threats by building up his spiritual defenses. He stores up supplies of the words of God for the day when his soul comes under heavy attack. To the surprise of the Allies, days of constant artillery fire did not destroy the enemy on islands like Iwo Jima and Okinawa. The fact that our troops waded ashore unopposed led to false expectations. In vast networks of interconnecting caves, the enemy waited with vast stores of weapons and ammunition.
We deplore the bloody consequences for our troops, but we must admire the tactics. A safely-stored reserve of weapons makes for a strong defense.
In spiritual warfare, as in physical warfare, preparation is vital. Many are the warriors who explained, “My training kicked in!” as a reason for survival.
When threatened, we reach deep down inside for strength and direction. Without hesitation, we pull up what has been placed there earlier.
Satan does not fear our feeble attempts to defend ourselves. He scoffs at our determination to remain faithful to our Lord. He knows he can outsmart and outlast us. “On earth is not his equal…” He trembles, however, before the words of his Maker and Judge. He flees when the Sword of the Spirit is pulled out.
Now is the time for the words of God to be hidden away in our hearts!
Now is the time.
We pray: God of greatness and glory, our strength is feeble, and our danger is great. We often do not even see the enemy attacking before we are being overrun. Give us strength from within. Place into our hearts your powerful Word of Life. Keep us safe. Amen.
Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain
and Liaison to the Military, Belle Plaine, MN
Provided by WELS Ministry to the Military