I have recently developed a fascination with the word "heart" in the Bible. I have hundreds of tiny little hearts drawn in the margins of my Bible where the word appears. How does God view our hearts? How does He treat our hearts? How should we view and treat our hearts? So I've decided to begin a sort of word study...each day I will study the next verse that holds the word "heart" in order to learn more. So here we go...
The first time the word "heart" is mentioned is in Genesis 6:5:
Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
Have you ever used a microscope? I remember being taught that cells make up our body - they are the building blocks of life in a sense. Microscopes allow us to see the building blocks of anything we would like - an onion, a piece of grass, a human hair. Or what about a telescope? We see further than we should be able to. If you really think about it - it's kind of mind boggling. Keep this in mind as we talk about the first occurrence of the word "heart."
The word heart is defined in this instance through the Hebrew "leb" (layv) which means "inner man, mind, will, understanding" (Strong's). Some translations use "man's deepest thoughts" instead of the word "heart." Matthew Henry's commentary states that "[the heart] cannot be concealed from Him...Anyone might see that the wickedness of man was great, for they declared their sin...but God's eyes went further" (Henry). His eyes saw the inner man, the heart, the root or spring of man's soul, and He saw that it was corrupt, that there was no good to be found. "They did not do evil only through carelessness, but deliberately and designdly, contriving how to do mischief" (Wesley).
Another word of importance in this verse is "continually." This gives us the idea that there was "no interval of good" (Clarke). There was no change whatsoever. In total, their hearts were evil.
We should also take a look at the word "saw" - the Lord saw...that every intent of the thoughts of his heart.... The Hebrew word simply means "to see, look at, inspect, perceive, consider" (Strong's). Not much different than what we would expect, but still important.
So what should we take from all of this? It's interesting that this is the very first use of the word "heart." It seems kind of sad since it talks about the unending and deplorable wickedness of men. But I don't think that's the point. I think the point is God's power. Like the microscope - He can see further than anyone else, into the beginning, or root of our soul. He not only sees our hearts but completely perceives them. He knows our hearts. He knows if we are "continually" evil or if we are even remotely capable of good. It is definitely scary to think about, it's intimate and personal beyond anything we can comprehend. But that is the power of our God! He is the only one who knows and sees that much of each individual person. He is an awesome God!