A New Heart (Psalm 73:25-26)
Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. 26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. —Psalm 73:25-26
I have a son with multiple severe disabilities. For the first years of his life, I was as far away as one can be from desiring God. My flesh and my heart had utterly failed, and I understood God to be the source of that failure. God was certainly strong – and cruel.
Psalm 73 begins with struggle as well:
But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped. For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked (Psalm 73:2-3 ESV).
I understand the temptation faced by the Psalmist because I wanted that same life of ease and prosperity. Disability in my family had ripped that possibility away. Oh, how I wish I could say I ‘almost stumbled’ and ‘nearly slipped’! But in another sense I’m glad that my failure of faith and trust in God was so complete.
Because the rescue that came exclusively from God’s hand was also crystal clear.
God awakened me to the state of my heart, which was hard and dead in its sin. And he let me see that Jesus had provided an infinitely costly but everlasting solution to that sin. He fulfilled Ezekiel 36:26:
And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
This new heart IS capable of desiring God. You have it as well if you cling to Jesus in faith! And God is the one who did it.
Yes, I frequently still fail and let other enticements draw me away from my awesome, loving, rescuing God. But the God who gives new hearts and new life in him never fails. He will bring to completion the good work he began in you (Philippians 1:6).
So it would be wrong to read Psalm 73:25-26 as a testament to the Psalmist’s or anyone’s own strength of mind or heart – that somehow we were the ones who created desires for God on our own. No, none of us is righteous (Romans 3:10). And in this state of sinfulness, not only have we no desire to submit to God’s law, we cannot do so (Romans 8:8).
Rather, with joy we join the author of Psalm 73 in pointing to God as both the object and the source of our desires. God conquered our rebellion and our sin, and God awakens in us affections for him. Nothing can stop God from holding and keeping and helping us – for all eternity!