How much does a heart weigh?

How much does a heart weigh?

That question was on my mind as I drove home from a church group sharing session on Saturday night where the discussion topic fell on our hearts. We spoke of how the Lord always sees our hearts, while we often look at the outside (1 Samuel 16:7). And the ‘outside’ does not just refer to physical appearances, but also what we perceive as strengths, capabilities, competencies, talents. “Ah, that’s a leader-type” or “Well, I wouldn’t choose him to do this task if I were you”, we say. But who is to say who is usable in God’s economy? And we are reminded in 1 Corinthians 1:27 that God chooses the weak and the foolish to shame the strong and the wise. Remember that Jacob was a liar; Rahab was a prostitute; Elijah was suicidal; Timothy was too young…and Lazarus was dead! But God used them all for His purposes.

As I was driving, my thoughts also drifted to how the ancient Egyptians had this belief that a person’s heart would be weighed on a scale at the time of his death as a means of determining whether or not one is fit to enter the Egyptian equivalent of heaven.

Weighing the Heart

In Exodus, we frequently read of how God hardened Pharaoh’s heart so that Pharaoh would remain stubborn and refuse to let the people of Israel go. Much ink and sweat have been expended on this issue but one interpretation I find interesting is by Douglas Stuart who compares this ancient Egyptian concept of weighing one’s heart to what God did to Pharaoh. God did not override Pharaoh’s free will by hardening Pharaoh’s heart against his will, but instead this was a imagery that God used which would be easily understood by the ancient Egyptians at the time.

“It’s crucial to remember that in the eyes of the Egyptians, Pharaoh was essentially god. He was a pure person with divine credentials. So not only was he perceived as sovereign, but also essentially sinless. Therefore, the idea that God could harden his heart or that Pharaoh could harden his own heart flies in the face of Egyptian theology. It overtly implies that Pharaoh is neither sovereign nor sinless: only the God of the Hebrews is. As Douglas Stuart says, “Each time Yahweh is described as hardening Pharaoh’s heart, the alert reader is reminded that Yahweh had, as it were, weighed Pharaoh and found him wanting.”

O Lord, help me to see events as You see; to see people as You see; and to see the heart as You see. And may my heart not be found wanting when You weigh it.


~ by irwin on March 10, 2013.

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