The altitudes of the heart are of massive importance to the biblical witness.
Particularly in the book of Isaiah, the hubris that leads a human being to elevate himself is a certain prescription that he will be brought low. The Psalms also pick up this topic, with uncanny employment of the same vocabulary that Isaiah uses to make the point.
O LORD, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. (Psalm 131:1–2 ESV)
It would be possible to read these lines as an endorsement of the dumbing down of Christian faith that is so often urged upon us in our day. That would be a mistake.
The Psalms as a whole and the biblical witness in its fulness urge the Christian believer to make robust use of his faculties to plumb the depth of YHWH’s goodness, of his world, and of his way with that world. Sloppy thinking and lazy belief never enjoy the seal of approval of the sourcebook of Jewish and Christian faith.
Yet the psalmist’s point is a potent one. The believer is a humble servant of deep and large matters. His capacity to explain them, to capture them in their fulness, is at all times a partial and limited one. Knowledge of them is not that mastery that ‘puffs up’, to borrow a phrase from the apostle Paul’s instruction. It is rather an understanding that leads a person to make a proper self-assessment, to rest in his smallness, and to lean upon the High and Holy One, as Isaiah would have us think of our Maker.
Knowledge that is genuine and accurate leads one not only to activity but also to tranquil serenity. The two sometimes jostle awkwardly with each other.
Yet both are invitations. Both are gifts.