A man in Ethiopia showed me his well-worn Bible. Years ago, when his country was under communist rule, he had to keep his Bible in a secret location so it wouldn’t be confiscated and destroyed.
I understand why that Christian brother hid his Bible. But why does the psalmist say, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11)? Why hide God’s Word at all? Shouldn’t we go public and share it every chance we get?
The Hebrew word translated “hidden” in Psalm 119:11 (tsaphan) not only meant to conceal or keep secret, but also to store away as a treasure. It described the way Moses’ mother protected him for three months when he was a baby (Exodus 2:2-3) and Rahab hid the spies to keep them safe (Joshua 2:4). David used this word to express confidence that God has “stored up” good things for those who fear him (Psalm 31:19).
Why Hide It?
It’s common to put valuables like a coin collection or expensive jewelry in a safe place. Do you keep spare cash hidden in a desk drawer, hide a house key outside your door, or store important papers and keepsakes in a safe deposit box so they won’t be misplaced or stolen? We hide God’s Word in our hearts, not because we’re ashamed of it, but because we value it.
Sometimes we hide things until the right time to display them. Do you ever buy a birthday gift for someone and hide it until the special day arrives? Do you ever play Santa and purchase something in November but keep it hidden until Christmas Day? We hide God’s Word in our hearts for the same reason cooks store spices in the pantry and mechanics keep tools in the garage—so we’ll have the right resources on hand when we need them.
Memorizing Scripture today seems to be a lost art, but it’s a skill we need to reclaim. If you hide Scripture in your heart, it will be available when you have surgery, reminding you that God is your refuge and strength. When a loved one dies, it will reinforce your hope and assure you that Christ is risen. When you feel lonely or discouraged, Scripture will remind you that God will never leave you or forsake you. Biblical truth will help you get along better with others, handle money wisely, and grow older with purpose and peace.
The psalmist stored up truth in his heart so that he would not sin against God. Memorized Scripture is preventative medicine. It helps us make better choices and steer away from sin.
Where to Hide It
Over the centuries,Scripture has been written on stones, on leather and papyrus scrolls, and in printed Bibles that sit on our shelves; but it’s not enough merely to read or hear the words. God’s truth must be internalized, digested, and hidden in our hearts. When we read Scripture or listen to teachers explain it, we should pray as the psalmist did, “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law” (Psalm 119:18).
We should pursue wisdom “and search for it as for hidden treasure” (Proverbs 2:4), treasuring God’s truth in our hearts until the day comes when everything hidden will be revealed.