“Thy Word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against Thee” (Psa. 119:11). The duty of God’s children is to hide His Word in their hearts, and in so doing there must be a right end; their knowledge of it and delight in it is to be directed to practice.
One duty and necessary practice of God’s children is to hide the Word in their hearts. See it confirmed by a Scripture or two: “This book of the Law shall not depart out of thy mouth, but thou shalt meditate therein day and night” (Josh. 1:8); “Receive, I pray thee, the law from His mouth, and lay up His words in thy heart” (Job 22:22). Lay up His words as we would do choice things, that they may not be lost; and lay them up as a treasure to be used upon all occasions. In the heart let them not swim in the brain or memory only, but let the affections be moved therewith, “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly” (Col. 3:16): be so diligent in the study of the Scripture that it may become familiar with us, by frequent hearing, reading, meditating, conferring about it. As a stranger, let it not stand at the door, but receive it into an inner room; be as familiar as those that dwell with you. God complaineth of His people “I have written to him [Ephraim] the great things of My Law, but they were counted as a strange thing” (Hosea 8:12). To be strangers to the Word of God, and little conversant in it, is a great evil.
What is it to hide the Word in our hearts? (1) To understand it, to get a competent knowledge of it; we take in things into the soul by the understanding: “When wisdom entereth into thine heart, and knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul” (Prov. 2:10). (2) When it is assented unto by faith. The Word is settled in the heart by faith, otherwise it soon vanisheth: “The Word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it “ (Heb. 4:2). (3) When it is kindly entertained. Christ complained “Ye seek to kill Me, because My Word hath no place in you” (John 8:37). Men are so possessed with lust and prejudice, that there is no room for Christ’s Word. Though it break in upon the heart with evidence and power, yet it is not entertained there but cast out again as an unwelcome guest. (4) When it is deeply rooted. Many men have flashes for a time: their affections may be much aloft, and they may have great elevations of joy, but no sound grace: ”ye rejoiced in his light for a season” (John 5:35). The Word must be settled into a standing affection, if we would have comfort and profit from it. We read of “The engrafted Word” (James 1:21): till there be the root of the matter in us, in vain do we expect fruit.
The reasons why this is one great duty and practice of the saints to hide the Word in their heart are two: first, that we may have it ready for our use. We lay up principles that we may lay them out upon all occasions. When the Word is hidden in the heart, it will be ready to break out in the tongue and practice, and be forthcoming to direct us in every duty and exigency. When persons run to the market for every pennyworth, it doth not become good housekeepers. To be seeking of comforts when we should use them, or to run to a book, is not so blessed as to hide it in the heart. “A good scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of Heaven…bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old” (Matt. 13:52). He hath not only this year’s growth but the last year’s gathering (for so is the allusion): he hath not only from hand to mouth, but a good stock by him. So should it be with the Christian, which is a very great advantage.
First, it will prevent vain thoughts. Why is evil so ready and present with us? Because our stock of spiritual knowledge is so small. A man that hath a pocket with more brass farthings than pieces of silver, will more readily draw out farthings than shillings; his stock is greater. So vain thoughts will be more ready with us, unless the Word dwell richly in our hearts. “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth good things” (Matt. 12:35). The workings of our spirits are as our treasure and stock. The mind works upon what it finds in itself, as a mill grinds whatever is put into it—chaff or corn. Therefore, if we would prevent evil thoughts and musings of vanity all the day long, we must hide the Word in our hearts.
Second, when you are alone and without outward helps, your hearts will furnish you with matters of counsel, or comfort, or reproof: “My reins instruct me in the night season” (Psa. 16:7). When we are alone, and there is a veil of darkness drawn upon the world, and we have not the benefit of a Bible, a minister, or Christian friends, our reins will instruct us; we may draw out of our heart that which will be for our refreshing. A Christian is to be a walking Bible: to have a good stock and treasure in himself.