Monday, May 13, 2013

The heart instructs

Continuing to read Scripture, I found another intriguing heart passage:

"I bless The Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me." -Psalm 16:7

What does this mean? First of all, how does the heart instruct? Second, how in the night? A passage of Philo I read recently came to mind as I was typing the verse: "Therefore they always retain an imperishable recollection of God, so that not even in their dreams is any other object ever presented to their eyes except the beauty of the divine virtues and of the divine powers. Therefore many persons speak in their sleep, divulging and publishing the celebrated doctrines of the sacred philosophy." (The Contemplative Life, 26) What a description! It almost sounds excessive, but the context of the verse is not opposed, "I keep the Lord always before me" (Ps. 16:8).

So before it was said that the heart seems to be the mind as ordered to action; here it seems to be a source of instruction. A small problem, one cannot teach oneself. A heart cannot teach itself. The verse before speaks about the Lord giving counsel, and then about the heart instructing. Perhaps it is because the heart is the part of man closest to God, that part through which God speaks to man. If that is so, then God's activity is named through the medium by which he reaches us. My heart instructs me in the night, God instructs me at all times. The night seems to be named so as to extend how God teaches. Since most things are done in the day, the night is named to show that he teaches even when men do not. Further, there is the spiritual meaning of the night. Night often refers to a time when a man cannot discern or rest in God's closeness. Even at this time, God instructs me. Perhaps that is why he says heart instead of God. In such a night, one cannot see that God is the one working in the heart.

This then reminds me of the Psalm that comes a bit later, "He made darkness his covering around him, his canopy thick clouds dark with water." (Ps. 18:11) So we cannot see Him who surround Himself with darkness, and yet He works as the following verses go on to say.

One more verse from the same area, just to go back to the heart. "They close their hearts to pity." (Ps. 17:10) So if the heart is where man is closest to God, then it is through the heart that we receive graces from God. So these men who close their hearts fail to receive the mercy/pity which God would bestow on them, whether it be God having mercy on them or giving them the virtue by which men are merciful. This recalls the hardening of Pharaoh's heart, although that does have additional difficulties.

The Philo came from here:

Sent from my iPhone

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