According to the integrity of His heart

 

[Psalms 78:42-72]

 

Last week, we meditated on three things about our hearts that aren’t steadfast based on Psalms 78:23-41.  We have learned that our hearts that aren’t steadfast, that is, our unfaithful hearts, first they follow greed, secondly, they don’t believe in God, distrusts and doubts, and thirdly, they speak lies.  We has opportunity to examine our hearts as we meditated on the ancestors if Israel whose repentance was flattering, in which their lips seemed to resemble the Lord but their hearts were far from Him.  The word that comes to my mind in the midst of this is Jeremiah 17:9 – “The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?”  This corrupt heart was washed away by Jesus' blood from the cross.  Therefore, we now have a new heart.  But still we see our hearts that aren’t steadfast.  How can we protect and train our hearts?

 

This morning prayer meeting, I meditated on Psalms 26:2 – “Examine me, O LORD, and try me; Test my mind and my heart.”  I thought three things about how we can train our hearts centered on this word.  First, I thought that in order to train our hearts in terms of intelligence, we should strive to know the truth of the Lord (v. 3).  Second, in order to train our hearts emotionally, I thought that love for the Lord (v. 8) should motivate our hearts.  Third, I thought that in order to train our hearts in terms of will, we must walk in our integrity like psalmist David (v. 11).

 

In Psalms 78:72, the psalmist confesses to God: “So he shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart, And guided them with his skillful hands.”  I want to receive the grace given to us while meditating on three things about what kind of grace our Lord, who is truly Shepherd, gives us according to the integrity of His heart with the sincerity of his heart.

 

First, our Lord, the Shepherd, chose us in love.

 

Look at Psalms 78:68, 70 – “But chose the tribe of Judah, Mount Zion which He loved.  …  He also chose David His servant And took him from the sheepfolds.”  God's sovereign choice is clear.  It is clear whom He chose and whom He didn’t choose.  The verse 68 starts with “But” and it’s purpose is to contrast with verse 67: “He also rejected the tent of Joseph, And did not choose the tribe of Ephraim.”  The psalmist clearly states that God didn’t choose Joseph's second son, the tribe of Ephraim.  Although the psalmist says that God didn’t choose the tribe of Ephraim, but He chose David (v. 70).  It is clear that God chose and didn’t choose.

 

The apostle Paul is speaking of God's sovereign choice and not choice clearly: “Just as it is written: "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated” (Rom. 9:13).  Romans 9 speaks specifically of God's sovereignty.  Especially from verse 20, the famous pottery parable comes out.  The apostle Paul, who said that the potter has the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use (v.21), this is what he said in verse 20: “But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? "Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’”  The lesson that these words give us and teaches us is that creation cannot dare to challenge the Creator's sovereignty.  Therefore, when we consider the words that God chose Jacob in His sovereignty and not Esau, we must humbly listen to Psalms 78:67-68 that God chose David and not the tribe of Ephraim.

 

In Ephesians 1:4, the Bible we know well, the apostle Paul says: “just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him In love.”  God chose us in Christ before creation.  This God's choice is never a choice because we have something to be chosen by God.  Before creation, God unconditionally chose us.  Our God, the Shepherd, loved us and chose us as His sheep.

 

Second, our Lord, the Shepherd, who chose us redeemed us.

 

Look at Psalms 78:42 – “They did not remember His power, The day when He redeemed them from the adversary.”  The ancestors of Israel were unfaithful and didn’t remember the power of God who redeemed them from their enemies.  But God remembered the covenant made with Abraham and redeemed the Israelites according to the integrity of His heart.  The psalmist speaks of the redemption of the Israelites from their enemies starting from verse 43.  Looking at the explanation of the incident, God brought 10 plagues to Egypt when the ancestors of Israel were in slavery in Egypt (vv. 43-41) and eventually redeemed them from Egypt (v. 52).  Here, what does it mean by ‘redemption’?  Redemption means to buy at a price.  Redemption means that God pays a high price in order to buy sinners from the devil's market, and takes them to God's house, just like paying for the slave at a slave market.  In the end, the word redemption means that God and Jesus paid the price of blood and bought us in the devil's slave market.  At the time of the Exodus, before the tenth plague, the Israelites had the blood of sheep aright on the doorposts, and the blood of the sheep refers to the blood of Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. 

 

When we think about this redemption, we can understand the words of Isaiah 43:4 – “Since you are precious in My sight, Since you are honored and I love you, I will give other men in your place and other peoples in exchange for your life.”  Why are we so precious and honored in the sight of God?  The reason is because we are the ones who have been paid and bought with the precious blood of Jesus.  Because our Jesus died on the cross for our lives, we have become precious and honored in the sight of God.

 

Third, our Lord, the Shepherd, shepherds us and guides us according to the integrity of His heart.


Look at Psalms 78:72 – “So he shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart, And guided them with his skillful hands.”  The psalmist says that “He led forth His own people like sheep And guided them in the wilderness like a flock” (v. 52).  God led and guided the Israelites safely, so that they din’t fear (v. 53).  In the end, God led the Israelites to Canaan, the Promised Land, “His holy land, To this hill country which His right hand had gained” (v. 54).  He drove out the nations before them and apportioned them for an inheritance by measurement, and made the tribes of Israel dwell in their tents (v. 55).  But what was the reaction of the ancestors of Israel?  Look at verses 56-58: “Yet they tempted and rebelled against the Most High God And did not keep His testimonies, But turned back and acted treacherously like their fathers; They turned aside like a treacherous bow.  For they provoked Him with their high places And aroused His jealousy with their graven images.”  Although God shepherded and guided the Israelites according to the integrity of His heart (v. 72), yet they tempted and rebelled against God (v. 56).  They turned aside like a treacherous bow and provoked God with their high places and arouse His jealousy with their graven images (vv. 57-58).  In the end, God was filled with wrath and greatly abhorred Israel (v. 59), abandoned the tent which He had pitched among men (v. 60), gave up His glory, the Israel, into the hand of the adversary and the sword (vv. 61-62).  In the meantime, God chose David (v. 70) and shepherded and guided him according to the integrity of His heart (vv. 71-72).

 

As we meditated on in Psalms 78:23-41, even though the Israelites at the time of the exodus tested God's power in greed (vv. 18-20), God opened the doors of heaven and rained down manna upon them to eat (vv. 23-24).  In other words, when the Israelites committed sins, yet God showed them grace.  This cannot but be God’s faithful grace and love.  Yet God shephered and guided the Israelites whose hearts weren’t steadfast according to the integrity of His heart.  In this way, the heart of God and the hearts of the Israelites were different.  God’s heart was the heart of integrity whereas the Israelites’ hearts weren’t steadfast.

 

Although our hearts aren’t steadfast, God’s heart is the heart of integrity.  With His heart of integrity, God the Father chose us before the creation of the world, Jesus the Son redeemed us, and God the Holy Spirit is guiding and leading us.  How can we not praise God with all our hearts since our Triune God chose us, redeems us, and guides us whose hearts aren’t steadfast, unfaithful hearts with the integrity of His heart.  

 

                “I praise You Lord, with all of my heart/ I will tell all the world Your wonderful works/

                 I praise You Lord, with all of my heart/ I praise Your name/ I rejoice in You Lord, Halellujah

                I exalt Your name high above all the world, Halellujah.”

 

 

With gratitude for the Triune God’s heart of integrity,

 

James Kim (Praising God with an unfaithful heart)