“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart“, the Psalmist writes in chapter 37 verse 4.
What is the promise of this verse? What exactly does “give you the desires of your heart” mean?
I am so caught up in myself and in the world I see. Sadly, my vision of true worth and true beauty is far from 20-20. My senses just don’t pick up on what really satisfies – I’ve become desensitized… dull… I feel like I’ve entirely missed the point of Psalm 37:4 for the majority of my life.
I have come upon this sentence multiple times. Each time, the Psalmist’s words have met my heart in varying but similar ways:
- “Really? Delight myself in the Lord and he’ll give me whatever I want?? Awesome! Done deal!”
- “I’m pretty sure I was wrong before – this probably doesn’t mean I get whatever I want if I delight myself in the Lord. BUT, maybe if I start to want things that God wants he’ll grant me those wants. And maybe some of these wants I have can sort of become ‘godlified’ so that it’s less greedy…but in the end I still get some of what I want…”
- “Maybe this delighting in the Lord thing has more of a shaping effect on my desires than I thought before – maybe God means that he’ll put the actual desires in my heart as I focus on him. Maybe that’s how I start to want the things that God wants. And maybe he’ll give me some of the same wants that I’ve wanted before, only now they’re really what God wants for me because he wanted me to have the want and stuck it in my heart!” (my brain… I know… this happens all day…)
Did you notice a trend in each of those themes of thought? If I could pick a key word to describe all three of those, I’d choose the word self. Sure, the latter two were a little less obviously selfish. But don’t let the spiritual mask over the face of my idolatry fool you – at the core, I kept hoping that God was in some way promising that if I’d just delight in him, he’d be the supplier of all that I’ve ever wanted. In fact, he was promising something far different (and far greater) if I had eyes to see.
The promise of this verse as I see it now is quite simply this: “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you [himself].”
Recall that the psalmist wrote that he will give you “the desires of your heart”. Why do I believe you can safely replace “the desires of your heart” with “himself”?
My reasoning is quite simple: Delight presupposes desire. In other words, if you find yourself pursuing your delight in something or someone, it must be true that you first desire the object of your present delight. You cannot truly delight in something or someone that you despise. Otherwise, the “delight” is a ruse. It’s hypocrisy.
So if that’s true, then my delighting in the Lord is a result of the fact that I desire him. The promise becomes something so much greater than God giving me the stuff I’ve always wanted. As my heart is changed to desire God, delight in God rises, and as I’m delighting in the Lord, his promise comes: “I will satisfy the desires you have for me by giving you myself.”
In fact, would it not be cruel and unloving of God if he was promising something other than this? Think about it… “I desire God. Therefore I delight in him. God then responds by giving me [money], [a great job], [some other substitute] instead of what I actually desire (namely, _God, himself_)??? No! No, no, no! _
I’m not saying that God doesn’t bless his people. I’m just saying that’s not necessarily the point of this verse! This verse is saying that your heart’s abundant desires can not merely be met by God, but, more incredibly, can be satisfied fully and completely in God. As desire for God produces authentic delight in him as the supreme Treasure that he is, he promises to satisfy you by giving you himself.
Thrill or Disappointment?
I can’t say this has always been true in my life, but when I read this and thought about it, it thrilled my heart (which spurred this blog post). I can think of how this promise would have met me in the past – sadly, I would have probably been somewhat disappointed that my “old” desires aren’t even in the picture. Tragically, I’d have viewed God as the inferior substitute satisfaction, rather than the other way around.
So how does this promise meet you? I’ve tried to be transparent in my assessment of my own life. Can you be transparent with yours? God is promising himself to you. Does this land on you with thrill, or with disappointment?