The heart as a figure of speech is central to the Bible.
The heart as a figure of speech is central to the Bible.

The heart is a theme woven throughout the Bible and is mentioned in the King James Version 830 times. The translation of heart in Greek is kardia, which, according to "Strong's Concordance," describes the heart figuratively. More than just an organ, it is also the mind, character, inner self, will, intention and center of a being. The emphasis placed on the matters of the heart was significant to religious beliefs in biblical times.

Repentance of the Heart

Repentance of the heart was an essential teaching in the Bible. In Psalm 51:10, David asked God for a clean heart and a right spirit. The Hebrew words "niham" and "shub" in the Old Testament refer to repentance. According to the Jewish Encyclopedia, niham means to "feel sorrow" and shub means "to return." Saadiah, a Jewish philosopher in medieval times, felt that true repentance requires regret and remorse for the sin, as well as renunciation, confession, asking forgiveness and pledging to not repeat the sin.

Testing the Heart

The Holman Bible Dictionary explains that the Hebrew language had no word for conscience, so the word heart was used to explain the concept of deciphering right from wrong. Jeremiah 17:10 explains that the Lord searches the heart and tests the mind to judge every person by the fruit of their deeds. Various Christian doctrines preach that God allows people to willfully choose obedience or disobedience. In a biblical context, God looked at the heart to see where people stood in their faith and deeds.

Purity of Heart

In the Sermon on the Mount, recorded in Matthew 5:8, Jesus specified, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." Purity of heart, described by the Orthodox Church in America, is freedom from wicked motivations and evil intentions, refraining from self seeking desires, and freedom from anything that clouds the mind from seeing things clearly and honestly. In the Orthodox tradition, purity of heart is essential for unity with God.

Healing a Broken Heart

The Bible notes how God comforted those with a broken heart. In Psalms 34:18, David testified that the Lord was near to the brokenhearted and rescued those crushed in spirit. Nineteenth-century author, theologian and preacher, Charles Spurgeon, referred to God as the "Beloved Physician" in his sermon, "Healing for the Wounded." Spurgeon taught that man is composed of both body and soul, which are both subjected to injury and hurt, and that God's mercy heals wounds and repairs injuries.