Pharoah is not the ONLY one with a "hardened heart"

Posted by Travis Threats on

But when Pharaoh saw there was relief, he hardened his heart and would not listen to them, as the Lord had said. Then the Lord said to Moses, “Tell Aaron: Stretch out your staff and strike the dust of the earth, and it will become gnats throughout the land of Egypt.”" Exodus 8:15-32  (Holman)

But when his heart was exalted and his spirit became arrogant, he was deposed from his royal throne and his glory was taken from him. Daniel 5:20 (Holman)

For this people’s heart has grown callous; their ears are hard of hearing, and they have shut their eyes; otherwise they might see with their eyes and hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn back—and I would cure them. Matthew 13:15 (Holman)

But because of your hardness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath, when God’s righteous judgment is revealed. Romans 2:5 (Holman)


The first use of “hardened heart” is found in Exodus concerning the Pharaoh who refused to let free from his bondage the Jewish people.  This was despite the plagues which fell on Egypt. Thus, in light of all the evidence, the Pharaoh would not see the error of his ways, would not relinquish what he valued which was his own power. 

We might look at the Pharaoh and see a wicked man, holding slaves and concerned only about his own empire, his own legacy of greatness.  It is so easy to see the evil and selfishness in others.

But is your heart ALWAYS open to Jesus?  We may have our hearts open when in church listening to the choir, when in prayer, when talking with fellow believers?  As Christians we profess to believe but often falter when we encounter hardship.  In hardship we often do one of several things. 

One is to continue to be mad at the situation, and in extension God.  Now, note I am not saying that we should be happy about whatever happens to us.  Perhaps a boss has harassed or even fired you for standing out to much at work, more than he or she. Someone kills a loved one of yours.  The outpouring of grief is to be expected and part of being human.  What I am talking about is “staying mad” or becoming embittered. In this situation, we hardened our heart and like the verses above say that keeps us from the healing power of God, His counsel on how to move forward knowing the joy of His love.

Another is to become numb to the world.  To think that the pain and energy of being mad is exhausting so I am going to reject feeling at all.  No anger, yes, but no joy either.  This being numb is also a hardening of one’s heart because God wants to help you but you are not letting Him in to do so.

Another reaction is to become self-absorbed, to think the entire world revolves around you and is against you.  This can take the form of arrogance as with the Pharoah.  The world hates you because you are so much better than everyone else.  These people seem to take a perverse pride in being misunderstood and underappreciated.  In this state, you do not think about God, only yourself.  God continues to try to speak to you in this state but as in the other two reasons given, you are not receptive to listening and thus cannot receive God’s blessing.

The above are just three of the ways that we can allow our heart to be hardened.  Now, we do not always do this by ourselves.  People often have help in the form of Satan.  Satan wants us to have hardened hearts as this is one of Satan’s favorite states of mind.  In this state of mind, he can have control over you but more importantly keep you from Jesus.

As I stated at the beginning of this blog, we all must guard against our hearts being hardened.  Jesus spoke of this with his disciples, those following Him, who had even seen his previous miracles firsthand. Here the disciples do not have enough food, a time of stress for them, which introduces a lack of faith.

And Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Mark 8:17 (ESV)

As with all things, God has more power than Satan as shown in this verse-

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. Ezekiel 36:26 (ESV)

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18 (ESV)

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 4:12 (ESV)

As stated before, the heart left to its own devices can be weak

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9 (ESV)

So thus if put your heart in God, then it can guard against the world making your heart hardened.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5 (ESV)

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:21 (ESV)

As my readers know, I like to use music and videos to show how the wisdom of God flows through many sources.  The song “Cold, Cold Heart” is considered one of the greatest songs ever written.  It has been performed by many artists crossing every genre of music.  In it, it is about human love that has gone badly in a person’s life and not accepting the love of another person, despite their many attempts.  This is as with God who is always reaching out to us, but we resist the love, choosing to stay with our hardened hearts.

I have purposedly chosen the two different artists performing this song.  One reason is because represent two different styles of music- country and jazz.  They represent two different races, specific backgrounds.  But what they have in common is the difficulties of their own lives, perhaps why they sing this song with such conviction, such power. 

The writer of this song is the prolific and great country composer and singer Hank Williams.  In fact, he is considered one of the most significant and influential American artists.  His first musical exposure was with his mother who played organ for their church. He wrote and sung over 10 Christian songs. On the country record charts, he had 55 singles that reached the top 10.  He was born in Alabama.  Interestingly, he was greatly influenced and taught to play the guitar by Black blues musician Rufus Payne.  He was born with spina bifida occulta which resulted in physical pain in his life. He died at the age of 29 in 1952 from complications of alcoholism and prescription drug abuse.

Dinah Washington was also born in Alabama but moved with her parents to Chicago as a child.  She was very involved in her church as a gospel piano player and singer. She later went on to join a professional gospel group.  She later changed to jazz and blues music.  According to Wikipedia, between 1948 and 1955 she had 27 top 10 R&B hits.  She later went on to have hits on the pop charts. She died of a drug overdose of prescription drugs at the age of 39 in 1963.

Both artists were highly successful. Both had troubled personal lives, including interpersonal including their marriages. Both had been given musical gifts by God.  Both were also raised with parents of Christian faith and performed Christian songs.  Thus, they both had heard and knew of the saving grace of Jesus. It is possible that both had mental illness, such as depression, that they tried to address with substance abuse.  However, they could have handled these better with professional counseling in addition to spiritual counseling. Of course, in their time and cultures, professional counseling was unfortunately not as available or accepted.  Celebrity also brings additional pressures on people because of all those who profit from their success.  However, fully practicing one’s faith can help with these challenges, including mental and physical illness.  Faith does necessarily make these maladies go away, but using the strength of God can help you cope with them more successfully.

Perhaps the power of them singing this song is that their own hardened lives and the witness to those with hardened lives around them.  The song is about a person rejecting the affections of someone who loves them because that person has been hurt romantically before by another.  It uses the concept used throughout the Bible about having a hardened heart, using the term “cold cold heart”. 

As you listen to both versions, think of how you have perhaps hardened your heart to the one that loves you the most, understands your frailties the most, Jesus.  How you push Him away because of your own hurts, losses, disappointments. 

Like the person, Jesus laments when we reject His love as seen in Luke 19 as He looks over the city that will soon commend Him to death, rejecting His love and offer of salvation.

As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, He wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes.  Luke 19: 41-42 (NIV)

First Hank Williams, the composer, and then Dinah Washington.

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