WORD STUDY – A FIXED HEART – נכונ לבי
Psalms 108:1: “O God, my heart is fixed, I will sing and give praise even with my glory.”
Ever have one of those times when you carry a burden that just so overwhelms you that you can’t even pray. You try to pray, but it is just such an effort, you feel so weighted down.
This is the way David felt when he started to write this Psalm. You read this Psalm and it appears like one of his lighter moments. He seems so joyful, so happy. Yet, this first verse gives his true emotions away.
He calls out to God saying that his heart is fixed. The word for fixed is kon which has the idea of being established or directed. Today we would say his heart was focused. What David is saying here is that his heart was not focus on God but on his burden. It is for this reason that he will sing and give praise. Can you related. Do you sometimes feel so burden down and you cannot keep you mind stayed on God. Yet keeping your mind stayed on his is the key to perfect peace. Isaiah 26:3: “Thou wilt keep [him] in perfect peace, [whose] mind [is] stayed [on thee]: because he trusteth in thee.” Wonderful promise but I don’t know about you but when I am going through a stressful time I really a trouble keeping my mind stayed on God. Yet David gives us his secret as to how he keeps his mind stayed on God when he is going through a rough time.
The word for praise that is used here is zamar. This is a very focused praised. The word also is used for cutting or pruning. This is a very direct praise, no fluff, no disjointed or meaningless words, but a very specific praise. The word is also in a Piel form with a paragogic Hei. This makes this direct praise very intense. David is putting his whole being into this praise. This is not coming naturally. He is not working it up with electric guitars, keyboards, and drums. The drummer may be beating the devil out of those drums but away from David. We, in our Western culture, love our loud music. In fact neurologist have now discovered a portion of our brain that releases chemical that creates pleasure from music that is played so loud that it almost reaches the point of being painful, then that pleasure chemical is released to ease the impeding pain. Then we say: “Oh, feel the presence of God.” You don’t feel the presence of God you feel the pleasure valve releasing it chemicals that God created in you.
C.S. Lewis in his book Screwtape Letters tells how the senior demon mentoring a novice demon instructs this demon to beware of silence. Let them make a lot of noise, keep them away from silence for in silence you can hear the voice of God. So this worship of David doing a zamar was not backed up with loud music but was most likely in the quiet of his chambers, alone where he could focus on God without any distractions. This is a praise the David is giving to God through a deliberate effort. It is not coming naturally, it is forced and mostly beginning with insincerity. But as David becomes more and more focused on God, his praise begins to become a zamar praise, a pruning and cutting praise that cuts through all that burden and stress, it prunes away all his cares. Some call it a sacrifice of praise. Although I am not sure that is the Biblical definition of a sacrifice of praise, I do like that description. Although what you are sacrificing is all your cares and burdens for the sake of praising. That is a sacrifice I would gladly make and I am sure you would also.
Then he says: “Even with my glory.” The word for glory is kavod which means heaviness. It can also mean burdensome or grievous. I suppose we could say that David praises God with his heavy burden. That would fit the context quite well.
David is overwhelmed with his heavy burden. His heart is so fixed on this burden that he can not praise or worship God. So he says he will sing a song of praise. Not just any praise. He could praise God for His power, for His majesty, etc. David has done this many times, but right now that is not the praise that he can offer. So the praise he offers is with his burden. The word even is aph which is often translated as indeed or furthermore. “I will praise you indeed with my burden.”
David is not ignoring his burden, or pretending it does not exist. He is simply bringing God into the picture. He is entering into an intense praise with his burden right out there, out in front. He and God are going to share this burden. As you read the rest of the Psalm you find David talking about the awesome power of God, his control over everything and in that light, the weight of his burden get’s lighter and lighter.
Sometimes the burdens of this life can weight you down so much, you just want to crawl under yon rock from whence you came and shut everything out. You can try that but the burden will still be there. You could also choose, like David, to worship and praise God in the midst of that burden. You can let God bear that burden for you and as you do, it will get lighter and lighter.
There is an old hymn we used to sing when I was child and I sing it to myself constantly: “Leave you heavy burden at the cross, at the cross of Calvary.”