The actual Hebrew terms translated Death and Destruction are Sheol and Abaddon. Studying these terms would make for an interesting study, because they reflect the understanding of the Jews about the afterlife, which in the Old Testament is not as clearly revealed as in the New. But the proverb lists these terms not because they enlighten us as to what happens after death, but precisely because they convey mystery. Consider them as names for the other world beyond this life, a life that is shrouded from view, a shadowy world in which the living disappear into. Before the Lord, this world of dark shadows is like a world clearly lighted in which everyone is fully accounted for. Now, if that world is laid bare before the Lord, how much more our hearts.
Our heart is the one thing we think we can keep secret. We might say our thoughts as well, but the proverb regards the thoughts as coming from the heart. Yes, we believe that we can play whatever part is expected of us, but keep what is really in our heart a secret. If people only knew what we really were thinking. What if some really knew how we felt about… well, what? What is it that if they knew they would be devastated or furious? What do we hide that would bring disgrace?
God knows. Yes, he knows everything – every bitter feeling, every arrogant posture, every… well, I'm making myself too uncomfortable! And consider that he knows even when we do not that we are being false. The times that we think we are being humble before him, he knows the pride that really stirred our action. The times when we think he should be proud of us for our sacrifice, he knows the self-serving motive. That is what scares me. Whenever we think about the warning that at judgment everything done in secret will be made known, I do tremble about what I am ashamed of, but what really makes me uncomfortable is knowing there will be surprises. I have this uneasy feeling of God saying to me, "Remember when you thought you were being so wise? Well, the truth is…" God knows our hearts.
~ D. Marion Clark