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In the opening salvo of this magnificent psalm, David writes, “Lord, my heart is not haughty.” The journey to the majesty of calmness begins where all spiritual journeys take place; namely, in the heart. David’s son Solomon, to whom the Scripture ascribes God-given and unprecedented wisdom (1 Kings 3:12), offered fallen humanity the following invaluable counsel: “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23). As the heart goes, so goes the man. We are no more or less than what we are at heart. 

Whether we’re talking about the source of man’s problem or the solution needed, the key to both is found in the heart. In Mark 7:18-23, Jesus taught that the source of all defilement in the world is found in the hearts of men. According to Christ, fallen humanity has a spiritually fatal heart condition. Our heart trouble is poignantly described by the ancient Prophet Jeremiah in the most unflattering terms. In Jeremiah 17:9, the prophet takes his divinely inspired pen in hand to write the following frightening diagnosis of the fallen human condition: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” 

Even more scathing than the words of Jeremiah is the Apostle Paul’s blistering description of the fallen human race in Romans 3:10-18. With such a portrait of our darkness of heart and total depravity hanging in the gallery of Scripture, we are forced to conclude that it is impossible for us to whitewash it or touch it up with a few strokes of self-reformation. The only hope we have of eternal survival is a miraculous heart transplant performed for us by the Great Physician. Only He can remove our old “stony heart” and replace it with a “heart of flesh,” so that we will be miraculously transformed into God’s people, those who walk in His “statutes” and keep His “ordinances” (Ezekiel 11:19-20).

Until we give our hearts to Christ and God creates in us a clean heart (Psalm 51:10), one within which Christ can take up residence and feel perfectly at home (Ephesians 3:17), we have no hope of ever calming the soul. Since the unregenerate heart is incessantly insatiable and irascible due to its never-ending search for satisfaction apart from God, who alone can satisfy the hungry soul (Psalm 107:9), how can we possibly calm our soul if we retain our unregenerate heart and by doing so enslave ourselves to perpetually attending to its perverse and unappeasable appetites?

Calmness of the soul can only be obtained by a regenerate heart and maintained by a guarded heart.

Don Walton