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The Heart's Inclination
"If you find yourself loving any pleasure more than your prayers, any book better than the Bible, any house better than the house of the Lord, any table better than the Lord's table, any person better than Christ, or any indulgence better than the hope of heaven - be alarmed." - Thomas Guthrie
Psalm 141:4 says - "Incline not my heart to any evil thing, to practise wicked works with men that work iniquity: and let me not eat of their dainties."
In this particular verse of Scripture, King David prayed one of the most powerful prayers ever written. In it, he sought God for the power to keep his heart pure, avoid the evil practices of the wicked, and refrain from sharing in their luxurious indulgences.
"Incline not my heart" - Here we see that our hearts play a very important role in our walk with God. David prayed for the condition of his heart. He didn't pray for his eyes, his hands, his feet, etc. He prayed for his heart - knowing that it was the seat of his emotions, passions, and appetites. Herein was found the inclination, resolution, and determination of his will. It also included the thinking, reflection, and memory of his mind.
"Incline not my heart to any evil thing" - He prayed that his heart would not be stretched forth, spread out, or bent toward any wrong speech, words, or utterances. He also prayed that his heart would not be turned aside, influenced, or drawn toward any wicked mannerisms, occupations, businesses, or matters.
We infer from his petition that our hearts can be drawn toward that which is good or that which is evil. There is a bent or a direction in which they are going. They are stretched forth toward one of two things. They can be turned aside, easily influenced, or drawn toward that which is evil just as easily as that which is good.
Some questions to ask are -
Where are our hearts taking us?
To what bent are they directed?
What kind of influences are over them at the present moment - godly or wicked?
Is there a wrongdoing to which we are consenting?
Are we submitting to an evil matter or business?
"To practise wicked works with men that work iniquity" - When our heart is bent toward evil, we will experience certain results -
...we will let down our guard and begin to compromise with the sinner...find ourselves taking part in wicked deeds with those who are evildoers
...and want to be with sinners - doing what they do.
When our heart is bent toward "any evil thing," we find ourselves occupied in deeds of wickedness...doing the things which wicked, unprincipled people do...or uniting or associating with those who "work iniquity." This is the initial result of our hearts being inclined toward "any evil thing."
Are we -
...practising wicked works with men that work iniquity?
...compromising with the sinner?
...taking part in wicked deeds together with those who are evildoers?
...associating in any way with "men that work iniquity"?
If we are, it is a sure thing that our hearts are not right before God. They are inclined toward an "evil thing."
"Let me not eat of their dainties" - When our heart is drawn toward that which is evil, we will find enjoyment in the wrong things. "Dainties" are anything which give delight or pleasure. For the wicked man, sin is pleasurable.
Proverbs 9:17 attests that - "Stolen waters are sweet." In other words, forbidden fruit is pleasant to the eye.
Who or what brings us the greatest delight or pleasure?
What are our "dainties"?
Are they the same as those of the "men that work iniquity"?
Are we partaking in sinful practices?
Do we derive pleasure from something that brings God's displeasure?
When our hearts are inclined to "any evil thing," we "practise wicked works with men that work iniquity" and partake of their "dainties." This is why David cried out to God for His restraining and mortifying grace. He didn't want to be drawn by any allurements or driven by any provocation to sin against God.
He called on the Almighty - Who knows the hearts of all men - to prevent his heart from being drawn toward that which is evil.
In Psalm 84:10, we find his bold and uncompromising declaration - "...I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness."
Is this our sentiment?
Daniel 1:8 tells us of the Prophet Daniel - "But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank..."
He "purposed in his heart." Notice - it all begins in the heart.
Let's make David's entreaty ours today and cry out to God as he did, saying - "Incline not my heart to any evil thing...."
And let's do as Daniel did - "Purpose" in our hearts that we will not "practise wicked works with men that work iniquity" nor eat of their "dainties."
Then we, too, will be able to rejoice with the Psalmist in saying of ourselves - "Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord"(Psalm 119:1).
May God Bless His Word.