2 Chronicles 16:9: For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him. Herein thou hast done foolishly: therefore from henceforth thou shalt have wars. 

How does one get our heart perfect toward God?


The Hebrew of “whose heart is perfect toward him” is לְבָבָ֥ם שָׁלֵ֛ם אֵלָ֖יו. In the BDB lexicons:

†לֵבָב ... ψ 104:15 inner man, mind, will, heart;… (p. 523).

שָׁלֵם … adj. complete, safe, at peace;… (p. 1023).

Brown, F., Driver, S. R., & Briggs, C. A. (1977). Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Thus, heart means the whole inner person, intellect, volition, and emotion. The adjective shalem translated perfect has a broad sense not conveyed with English translation. The noun form with the same root is shalom. A peace offering is shelem. The verb form is:

שָׁלֵם … vb. be complete, sound

Brown, F., Driver, S. R., & Briggs, C. A. (1977). Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (p. 1022). Oxford: Clarendon Press.

This verb is also used for recompense in the laws in the Pentateuch. (To make restitution, Lev. 24:18; to complete a vow, Deut. 23:21) It may well be the actual verb Jesus used when he said, “It is finished,” while on the cross.

While the context of this verse hints toward having a pure motive, translating this word perfect has the wrong connotation in English. The theological idea of making your peace with God fits with this word, although that theological expression sounds strange in contemporary English. It has the idea of being right before God. Note the ESV translating “whose heart is blameless toward him.” Look at this verb as all-encompassing rather than trying to narrow it down to a particular English translation.

As a Christian we get a perfect heart toward God through Jesus’ sacrificial death, his example of love, and throughout our lives being conformed to the image of Christ. The verb has a rich meaning in Jewish law of sacrifice and reconciliation.

  • If this doesn't answer your question, maybe you need to word it, "How would Asa get a perfect heart toward God?" – Perry Webb Jan 23 '19 at 10:05

It means to walk in the Most High God's statutes...

1 Kings 8:61 Let your heart therefore be perfect with the Lord our God, to walk in his statutes, and to keep his commandments, as at this day.

Abraham truly had faith and kept the commandments of God...

Genesis 17:1 And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect. 2 And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly.

Genesis 26:3 Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father; 4 And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; 5 Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.


Building on the other answer that has already given the Hebrew definition, it means to say that such a person does not have “a divided heart” but is completely given over to G-d.

Such a person, unlike the king in the passage would never seek out G-d and some thing or somebody else.

Someone who has a perfect heart toward G-d is wholly committed to G-d, perfectly, 100%, no reservation, in entirety, does not compromise but is exclusively committed, completely dedicated to G-d and Him alone.

It is such a person that qualifies for the promise in the passage.


Romans 5:1 (DRB) Being justified therefore by faith, let us have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ:

It by being just before God that we can be said to have peace before him; or, in Hebrew, our hearts are at shalom (peace, wellbeing) with him.

However, a relative justice or righeousness is meant, inasmuch as Zechariah the priest and wife of Elizabeth the sister of the Lord's mother was called blameless, but faltered in certain ways:

Luke 1:5-6; 13-20 (DRB) There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judea, a certain priest named Zachary, of the course of Abia; and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name Elizabeth. 6 And they were both just before God, walking in all the commandments and justifications of the Lord without blame. ...

But the angel said to him [Zechariah: Fear not, Zachary, for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elizabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John: 14 And thou shalt have joy and gladness, and many shall rejoice in his nativity. 15 For he shall be great before the Lord; and shall drink no wine nor strong drink: and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb. 16 And he shall convert many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias; that he may turn the hearts of the fathers unto the children, and the incredulous to the wisdom of the just, to prepare unto the Lord a perfect people. 18 And Zachary said to the angel: Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years. 19 And the angel answering, said to him: I am Gabriel, who stand before God: and am sent to speak to thee, and to bring thee these good tidings. 20 And behold, thou shalt be dumb, and shalt not be able to speak until the day wherein these things shall come to pass, because thou hast not believed my words, which shall be fulfilled in their time.

If one were considered according to his ability to perfectly keep the law, without room for mercy, that is, absolute perfection, he would be doomed. It is by the mercy provided in Christ that keeping the law is possible; whence it is not called the law of the letter, but "the law of liberty" (James 1:23-24)—while which liberty is not "a cloak for malice" (1 Peter 2:16), "but as the servants of God" being thankful for mercy, and not using it as an excuse for shortcomings, "the Spirit of grace" (Hebrews 10:8) not lacking, but ourselves and our will only.

Genesis 17:1 (DRB) And after he began to be ninety and nine years old, the Lord appeared to him: and said unto him: I am the Almighty God: walk before me, and be perfect.

2 Peter 3:13-14 (DRB) But we look for new heavens and a new earth according to his promises, in which [righteousness] dwelleth. 14 Wherefore, dearly beloved, waiting for these things, be diligent that you may be found before him unspotted and blameless in peace.

It is our duty to walk before God blameless, especially those whose sins our doused in the Holy Ghost and are partakers in the divine life—which is why no one can boast of the things he has done concerning salvation (Ephesians 2:9), since by our good works we don't earn God—rather, by God we procure the good works by His Spirit in us.


One might also have translated שָׁלֵם here as "full" or "complete". In the Greek Septuagint, we find the word πλήρης (plērēs), which appears over a dozen times in the New Testament and is translated everywhere as "full" in the King James Version. The New JPS Tanakh - a Jewish translation - uses the phrase "wholehearted" here:

For the eyes of the LORD range over the entire earth, to give support to those who are wholeheartedly with Him. You have acted foolishly in this matter, and henceforth you will be beset by wars

Another Jewish translation puts it:

For the Lord-His eyes run to and fro throughout the entire earth to grant strength with those whose heart is whole toward Him. You have dealt foolishly in this matter, for from now on you shall have wars

I think we might also recall here:

You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might (Deuteronomy 6:5; also Matthew 22:37 and Mark 12:30)

where the same Hebrew word לֵבָב (lïbab - "heart") appears.

So we are sort of recasting your question from "How does one get our heart perfect toward God" to "How does one love God with one's whole heart?" The Christian view of this question should be, I think, that such a thing is possible, since (1) the Lord commanded us to be perfect (Matthew 5:48) and we do not think He would have commanded us to do something we could not; and (2) not obeying such a clear commandment would certainly fall short of perfection.

John Climacus1 wrote, "He who has come to know himself has obtained an understanding of the fear of the Lord; and he who has walked by the aid of this fear, has reached the door of love."2 The key to this self-knowledge, as he writes elsewhere, is humility:

Humility is a divine shelter to prevent us from seeing our achievements. Humility is an abyss of self-abasement, inaccessible to any thief. Humility is a tower of strength against the face of the enemy (Psalm 60:3 LXX). No advantage shall his enemy have over him, nor shall the son, or rather the thought, of iniquity avail to hurt him any more, but he will hew down his enemies before his face, and them that hate him shall be put to flight (Psalm 88:23 LXX).

You will know in yourself and not be lead astray that you have this holy possession within you by an abundance of unspeakable light, by an unutterable love for prayer; and before this is attained, by a heart that does not judge the fault of others. And the precursor of what has been said is hatred of all vainglory.

He who has come to know himself by discerning each feeling of his soul has sown on earth; but those who have not thus sown cannot expect humility to blossom forth.3

The above might remind us of another teaching of the Lord: Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God (Matthew 5:8). Follow peace with all men, and holiness, wrote the writer of Hebrews, without which no man shall see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14)

1. 579-640 AD. He was abbot of the Orthodox Monastery of St. Catherine's in Sinai, where 12 centuries later Tischendorf would abscond with the Codex Sinaiticus. Today the librarian of St. Catherine's is actually an American monk from El Paso, Texas - Archimandrite Justin Sinaites. He gives a talk here on the history of the monastery.
2. The Ladder of Divine Ascent, 25.29
3. Ibid., 25.26-28

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.