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David begins this psalm with what may appear to be an arrogant assertion—“Lord, my heart is not haughty.” He appears to be proudly boasting that his heart is void of all pride. One cannot help but feel that David needed to be advised about the difficulty of acquiring true humility. After all, what other virtue is lost the moment you believe you’ve acquired it? How can anyone be so humble that he is proud of himself? And how can humility be possessed by anyone professing to possess it?

It may be argued that of the “seven deadly sins”—lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, and pride—the sin of pride is the most deadly, since it was the capital vice that led to the condemnation of fallen angels and fallen man. If there ever was an evil needing to be expunged from the human heart it is this cardinal sin that causes God’s creatures to foolishly attempt to usurp the place of their Creator.

To make such a claim as David makes with the initial strokes of his quill in this psalm is quite remarkable, but to make such a claim to the Lord is truly astounding. Whereas our fellows are unable to know for sure what is in our hearts, He who “tries the minds and hearts” of all men and before whose eyes “all things are naked and opened” not only knows our hearts, but knows them better than we know them ourselves (Psalm 7:9; Hebrews 4:13). Thus, to make any spurious claim to the Lord, much less a most outlandish one, is the height of folly. 

We must pause here in our rush to judgment to consider that David wrote this psalm under divine inspiration and was well aware of the fact that an all-seeing God sees straight through man’s spurious claims. In light of this, David could not possibly be ascribing to himself here something undetectable by omniscience. Far from being bogus, David’s claim must have been true; otherwise, he could not have been so sure of his case before the heavenly bar. 

Like Peter, who boldly called upon Christ to investigate the contents of his heart for proof of his love for Him (John 21:17), David boldly calls upon the Lord to investigate the contents of his heart for any trace of haughtiness. Are you as confident of the condition of your heart as Peter and David were? While you may view such confidence on your part as inconceivable, it is actually essential to your spiritual wellbeing. It is only when our hearts are confident, due to the fact that our consciences are clear, that we will be assured of God’s perfect love for us and freed from all fear of God’s condemnation of us (1 John 3:19-21; 4:17-18).

Calmness of soul is always the companion of a clear conscience and clean heart. It is never found in the company of a guilty conscience and condemned heart.

Don Walton