Only God Knows the Hearts of Men (1 Kings 8:39)

1 Kings 8:39


then hear in heaven your dwelling place and forgive and act and render to each whose heart you know, according to all his ways (for you, you only, know the hearts of all the children of mankind),

        There are two points that have my attention as I look at this prayer of King Solomon.  First is the fact that only the Lord truly knows the hearts of men.  So often we see people acting this way or that, and we make judgments.  We assume that we can figure out why it is that people acted.  We think we know what was in their hearts.

        However, God reveals to us here that only he knows what is in the heart of a man.  Only God can tell the motivation of a person.  Only God knows why people do the things that they do.  Only God can see past a person’s actions to see the why of those actions.

        Now, think about that truth as you consider how you make judgments.  Do you often think to yourself, “I know what he was really thinking?”  Do you ever assume that, though a person says they did something for one reason, you know that they really did it for another reason?  Only God can see into their hearts, so be very careful assuming you can see where only God can see.

        Now, let’s see one more point—a theological one—that is very significant.  Only God can see into the hearts of men.  What then do these verses tell us?

John 2:24-25

24 But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people 25 and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.


Matthew 9:4

But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts?


Luke 9:47

But Jesus, knowing the reasoning of their hearts, took a child and put him by his side

            Only God knows the hearts of men.  Jesus knew the hearts of these men.  Jesus knows what only God knows.  Jesus does what only God does.  Jesus is God—not less.

            So, you do not know the hearts of men, because you are not God.  Jesus knows the hearts of men, because he is God.  Do not assume you can judge the motivation of others, because you cannot see into their hearts.  Know, however, that Jesus can see your heart, so do not think you can fool him at all.

4 thoughts on “Only God Knows the Hearts of Men (1 Kings 8:39)”

  1. Good question. WE do judge, because we are called to clearly evaluate things in the light of Scripture. We must be able to say whether things are right or wrong. However, we do not assume that we know another person’s motivation without hearing it from that person.


  2. Thank you for sharing your thoughts :).

    I agree, Scripture clearly teaches that we are to judge all things. However, I also agree that we do not know another person's motivation (heart).

    Look at the life of Job: those around him knew Job; (a person won't sit by your side for seven days without knowing you). They had as much revealed knowledge as Job did, about his situation. Yet, they came drew drastically incorrect conclusions.

    Such sadly reflects the state of most learned Christians: like the Pharisees, they had an accumulation of knowledge, but they lacked discernment. The tragedy of the Pharisees is that they had God in their very presence, yet because of their hardened hearts, they couldn't perceive what was in front of their very face(s).


  3. Very good word… gods teaching me to stop jumping to conclusions and give people the benefit of the doubt. Thank you.


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