Is the Heart Always Wicked?

Nope, at least not according to the Old Testament. Sometimes it is upright.  I was looking at the Old Testament lectionary reading for the day.  It is Baruch 1.15-22 (that’s in the Deuterocanonical books for you non-Catholics).  The reading is very self-deprecating and very exaggerated, though surely the Israelites were wicked enough.  “From the time when the Lord brought our ancestors out of the land of Egypt until today, we have been disobedient to the Lord our God, and we have been negligent, in not heeding his voice” (vs. 19).  Really?  Everyone has been evil all of the time.  Then, I was struck by the common idea of “wicked hearts” near the end “all of us followed the intent of our own wicked hearts” (vs. 22).  I was reminded (I suppose as I should have been reading Baruch – see Jeremiah 36.4) of Jeremiah 17.9 :”The heart is devious above all else; it is perverse— who can understand it?”  And, I began to wonder “Where is the concept of the goodness of someone’s heart in the Old Testament?  I know it’s there.”  So, I decided to put together a list of seven references for you from the Book of Psalms where most references to uprightness in heart are concentrated:

  1. God is my shield, who saves the upright in heart (Psalm 7.10).
  2. … for look, the wicked bend the bow, they have fitted their arrow to the string, to shoot in the dark at the upright in heart (Psalm 11.2).
  3. Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart (Psalm 32.11).
  4. O continue your steadfast love to those who know you, and your salvation to the upright of heart! (Psalm 36.10)
  5. Let the righteous rejoice in the Lord and take refuge in him. Let all the upright in heart glory (Psalm 64.10).
  6. Light dawns​c​ for the righteous, and joy for the upright in heart (Psalm 97.11).
  7. Do good, O Lord, to those who are good, and to those who are upright in their hearts (Psalm 125.4).

Well, look at that.  Not everybody in Israel was evil all of the time.  And, not all of us are evil all of the time either.