Hiding God’s Word like a Pirate
My boys love pirate stories, dressing up like pirates, and staging epic, swashbuckling pirate battles. I sometimes find treasure boxes filled with monopoly money and old Chuck-e-cheese tokens hidden around our house. So, of course, I know a little about hidden treasure.
Pirate treasures are not hidden so that they will never be found again. They are not thrown into the sea, or burned up. They are buried, and a map with an “X marks the spot” so that the buccaneer might someday return and claim his bounty.
One well known verse in the Bible is the short sentence in Psalm 119:11, “I have stored up your word in my heart,
that I might not sin against you.” The King James used the word “hidden” for “stored up” but the meaning is the same.
How do we “store up” or “hide” God’s Word in our hearts like hidden treasure?
Our hearts are the center of our selves, the hub of our emotional, physical, and spiritual life. The heart is deeper than we know. The whole heart is known only to God. But the Psalmist believed, and Scripture teaches, that even though we can’t know our heart fully, or change it ourselves, we can store treasures there.
By God’s grace we can bury treasure in our hearts. By reading and meditating on Scripture in the light of the Gospel, we are burying treasure deep in our hearts. That treasure is not lost or destroyed, it is stored up. It is affecting us, it is changing us, and it is available for us when we need it.
We don’t always understand the value of that treasure as we are storing it up in our hearts. We may be reading and meditating, contemplating God’s Word and wondering exactly what it means to us. But by doing so, we are filling up the treasure chest. As this trove of God’s truth fills up, we begin to find that when we need it, by the Holy Spirits illumination, it is there. We don’t have all the answers ourselves by any means, but we are able to see Jesus working and to follow after him.
Christ’s kind of treasure is stored up in our hearts, but not hoarded like the Dragon’s loot in the book The Hobbit. The dragon Smaug had hidden a vast mountain of treasure, collected over hundreds of years, in a cave. When Bilbo the Hobbit and his dwarf friends find it, they are overwhelmed. Its too much to carry out, and in their greed, they are afraid others will steal it. So they bunker down and hide, guarding the treasure while starving and afraid. Moralistic readings of Scripture tend to leave us burdened, isolated, and defensive. We think of Scripture as some burden we carry and something we need to constantly be defensive about.
No, God’s Word is not chained. It does not need to be hoarded. It has a power of its own that needs to be revealed, not covered up. It is a treasure with weight of incredible lightness that we can bear as we take it with us, because it assures us of his mercy and grace in Christ. We don’t hide it in our hearts to keep it from others: quite the reverse. We hide it in our hearts so that our hearts might be turned toward God and others, and we might go out into the world to love and serve.
All of the Christian virtues of humility, patience, honesty, integrity, chastity, etc, do not begin to form in us by simply assuming we already know what they look like and how to live them out. They begin by quietly storing up God’s Word in our hearts. We store and we pray and we contemplate and we go out and serve. And as we watch and follow the Holy Spirit, he uses the Word of God to shape and to re-shape our lives into the image of the Word – Christ himself.
There is a great, endless treasure trove for us there, enriching us with Christ himself.
Some have been burdened by poor, bad, or moralistic readings of Scripture. If you’ve never read the Bible, or need a refresher, here are 100 Essential readings that will take you through an overview of the story and teaching of the Bible. You can read it over a period of a month or a year. As you read, look for the promise and fulfillment of God’s redemption through the Messiah, Jesus. Check out this article as a starting point, How to Read Scripture.
Take your time and store up this treasure in your heart. You’ll be glad to know that God will use it to shape and re-shape your life and to bring us all into the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
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