Hardened Hearts | Romans 11:9

And David says,
“Let their table become a snare and a trap,
a stumbling block and a retribution for them”

Romans 11:9

If there is any idea in the Bible that is difficult to hear, it is that God hardens hearts. However, when reading through the Bible, one is forced to confront this reality. The most glaring example is, of course, during Exodus when we are told repeatedly that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, so that he continued to deny the Israelites’ leave. Yet here, in Romans 11, we find the apostle Paul sorrowfully speaking of the hardness of the Israelites’ hearts. He speaks of a partial hardening that has come upon them for a time but will one day be removed. I find it comforting that Paul dislikes the words that he is writing. His heart breaks for his brothers of the flesh! Yet the truth that God hardens hearts does not become less true simply because it is an unpleasant thought.

Still, I find these two verses (which are cited from Psalm 69) to be some of the most interesting in the chapter because within them is the answer for how God hardens. Of course, we may never know completely why God hardens some people, but we find a clue as to how He does it.

The answer is that He sets a table before them. Their table of banqueting becomes that trap and snare. How odd is this? God hardens by allowing them to feed bountifully.

But how does this harden the heart?

By giving them everything that they want, they become like the rich man in Proverbs saying, “who is God” (Proverbs 30:8-9)? In their great wealth and satisfaction, they forget God; indeed, they reject God as unnecessary. God lets them follow their own will and desires without the fatherly discipline that He gives to His people.

This ought to be utterly terrifying for the unhardened soul because no one truly desires God. Absolutely no one seeks after God with a whole heart without God first changing their heart. Thus, God hardens the heart of man by giving him the idols that he so vehemently craves. As difficult as it may be, we should rejoice whenever we know that God has not given us the desires of our hearts but rather the desires of His heart! May our hearts continually yearn for Jesus Christ, and may He continue to conform our hearts so that our utmost desire is Him.

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