By Heart

February 28, 2014

Mary Luti

"With my whole heart I seek you. I treasure your word in my heart. I will ruminate on your precepts, and fix my eyes on your ways. I will not forget your word." - Psalm 119:9-16

The heart is where we keep things. Where we carry things that matter. Especially people. We say, "I carry you in my heart." And "I'm keeping you in my heart." Parents carry children in there. For life. Everyone we love is in there. In the heart.

The Bible talks about carrying God's Law in the heart—the Torah as the beloved one in whom you delight. But how does the word get into the heart?

By rumination. Night and day, you graze and chew it, deeply savoring what you read. One of the psalms says that God's word is like a honeycomb. You lick the golden stuff from each little cavity and it gets inside you, into the heart. The more you do this, the more it turns the heart sweet.

You can learn a lot about the Bible by reading commentaries. You can think important thoughts about scripture. You can bring critical lenses to your study, a feminist perspective, a liberationist perspective, a queer perspective. You can dig into scripture's historical context and find out how much a drachma was worth in the first century, or what people really thought of shepherds back then.

But until you've been up late and early ruminating, until you've carried the word in your heart of hearts where you keep the most precious things, until your hands and lips are sticky with honey from the comb—until you know by heart—you won't know the first thing about the bible.

Or the heart.

Prayer

By heart we would know you, God who knows our hearts. In the heart we would savor your word of life. Teach us to sit with the Spirit and feast. 

About the Author
Mary Luti is Visiting Professor of Christian History and Worship at Andover Newton Theological School, Newton, Massachusetts.
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