Would You Pass a Kidney Test?

By Mark D. Roberts

June 28, 2015

O let the evil of the wicked come to an end, but establish the righteous,
you who test the minds and hearts, O righteous God.”

Psalm 7:9


My friend Tom was born with defective kidneys. Thus, on a fairly regular basis, he has to go in for a kidney test. The doctors want to see if his kidneys are functioning well enough for Tom to continue on without invasive medical treatment. So far, so good. But, when it’s time for his kidney test, Tom is understandably nervous.

How about you? Are you nervous about your kidney test? Now, before you email me to say that you aren’t having such a medical procedure, let me hasten to say that I’m not thinking of the sort of thing Tom has to endure periodically. Rather, I’m translating Psalm 7:9 in an overly literal way. We read, “[You] test the minds and hearts, O righteous God” (7:9). But the Hebrew actually refers to the Lord in this verse as “the tester of hearts and kidneys.” The word I’m translating as “hearts” refers to the inner life of a person, especially the faculties of thought and will. The word I’m translating as “kidneys” can refer to the literal organs inside a mammal. But it can also designate the deepest part of a person, the seat of emotions and moral choice.

By saying that God is the tester of hearts and kidneys, the psalmist is revealing that nothing is hidden from the Lord. He knows everything about us, every thought, every feeling, every hope, every fear. He knows all the good stuff and all the bad stuff.

Apart from grace, this would be a scary thought, indeed. We might be able to hide our corruption from people, but not from God. In truth, the holy, just, omniscient God of the universe knows all there is to know about you. You cannot hide from God. Yet, you do not have to, because God is gracious toward you. He seeks relationship with you. God forgives and renews. He is not just the tester of our “kidneys,” but also our healer. Through Christ, God is in the process of restoring everything about you, including your kidneys. What good news!


How do you respond to the thought of God being the tester of your inner being?

Have you asked him to heal the deep wounds and to forgive the deep sins of your “heart and kidneys”?


Gracious God, the thought that you test the deepest parts of me would not be a happy one, apart from the gospel. Through Christ, you not only examine everything about me, but also you forgive that which is evil and mend that which is broken. Thank you, dear Lord, for your tenderness and kindness. Thank you for the confident hope I have in you. Amen.

P.S. An earlier version of this devotion appeared at The High Calling. This material is used here by permission under a Creative Commons license.

Mark D. Roberts

Senior Strategist

Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders,...

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