“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”
Is it really possible to have a pure heart when living within corruptible flesh? Doesn’t scripture teach us that our hearts are deceitful (Jer 17:9) and that if we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves? (1 Jo 1:8) But it must be possible – otherwise Jesus would not have said so!
There are actually several people in the Bible who could be used as examples of someone with a “pure heart,” but the most vivid example would be King David. There is no other person in the Bible who is fleshed out in such detail, nor with such candor. Not only do we have a full biography of his life in the books of Samuel, we also have a window to his soul through the Psalms that he wrote.
David is famously known as “a man after God’s own heart,” and there were times in his life when he would probably have agreed with that statement. As he was preparing to ascend to the throne after defeating all his enemies, David confidently declared, “The Lord has dealt with me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands he has rewarded me. For I have kept the ways of the Lord; I am not guilty of turning from my God.” (2 Sa 22:21-22)
But there were other times when David did not feel so righteous. When coming to grips with his actions in the aftermath of his affair with Bathsheba and the assassination of Uriah, David despaired at the depth of sinfulness within his heart. In his wretchedness he entreated the Lord, “Create a clean heart in me, O God, renew a right spirit within me.” (Psa 51:10)
In fact, we could say that David is just as famously remembered for his affair with Bathsheba as he is for being a man after God’s own heart. But God hasn’t remembered him that way. God has continuously used David as an example of someone who kept his commandments. He told Solomon, “If you walk before me faithfully with integrity of heart and uprightness, as David your father did, and do all I command and observe my decrees and laws, I will establish your royal throne over Israel forever, as I promised David your father.” ( 1 Ki 9:5-6) In spite of everything David did throughout his life, God still esteemed him as a man after his own heart.
God is able to see past the infirmity and corruption of our mortal flesh and into the depths of our soul – he is able to see things within us which we cannot perceive on our own. God is greater than our hearts (1 Jo 3:20) and he knows us much better than we ever could know ourselves.
It all comes down to the one true desire of the heart – not the passing desires of the flesh, not the fleeting ambitions of ego, but the single most desire of the heart. David said, “One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.” (Psa 27:4) Can we say that? If we are really pure in heart then we would seek after God, we would earnestly desire to see him. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god. ~ Psalm 24:3-4