. . . he sinned . . . and hardened his heart. (9:34)
Exodus tells us three things about Pharaoh’s heart. They are all here in these few verses: Pharaoh hardened his heart (9:34), his heart was hardened (9:35), and the Lord hardened his heart (10:1). All three are true. When we refuse the Lord’s word, we hurt ourselves. Each act of stubbornness makes us a little bit more stubborn. We harden our hearts, and then our hearts become hardened. It is called “habit-forming.”
Our choices predispose us this way or that, either for good or ill. An old hymn said “each victory will help you some other to win.” But also, each defeat makes the next defeat so much easier. Only God knows when a particular decision will prove to be the point of no return, beyond which the habit is irreversible. It was at such a point that Moses came to Egypt. Pharaoh’s probation had run out and his own heart-hardening process was divinely confirmed as God’s judgment on his sin (4:21; 10:1).
What was true of Pharaoh is true of us. This hardening process belongs to our human condition, by the will of our Creator. It is part of the price of being human. So Proverbs 4:23 counsels: “Keep your heart with all vigilance . . . from it flow the springs of life.”
“Take my heart: it is Thine own; it shall be Thy royal throne.”