Blessed is the one who always trembles before God,
but whoever hardens their heart falls into trouble.
Many times in the Bible, people are described as hardening their hearts. In one way this is a vivid image that is easy to grasp. A hard heart is no longer soft, no longer soft to those who call to it-either the Lord’s call or the call of those in need. What does a hard heart look like in our life? This proverb fills out this picture slightly more.
To harden your heart, according to this proverb, is to stop trembling before God. In other words, the right response to God from our heart includes trembling. The opposite is also true, a lack of trembling leads to a hard heart.
We often think of a soft heart in terms of compassion and caring. But this proverbs adds another description of how our hearts need to be. Part of a soft heart includes an aspect of trembling, of fear, of being in the presence of greatness, or being in the presence of goodness (when we are not).1 The obvious application is that trembling before God keeps our hearts soft.
A previous post linked head and heart. But from this post and the last post we should also link heart and knees. On our knees we tremble before God as a medicine against a hard heart. But also, on our knees we confess and find mercy (Prov 28:13). Instead of wearing our heart on our sleeves, maybe we should wear our heart on our knees.
- As an aside, 1 John speaks of the love that drives out all fear. How do we reconcile a love that drives out all fear with an appropriate trembling as part of a soft heart? ↩