“Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
Read: Psalm 37
This is a Psalm written by King David in his old age (v. 25). He has been around the block a few times, and through it all a certain truth has been solidified as true in his heart. Though we are called to walk by faith and not by sight (2 Cor 5:7), sometimes, like Thomas, doubt afflicts in our hearts until we can see or feel the truth for ourselves (John 20:24-29). As King David has lived, he has observed this indisputable and universal fact: God is faithful to his people.
Intricately linked with this truth is the fact that the wicked have an end. The opening command of the Psalm is to “Fret not yourself because of evildoers.” In the Hebrew it is literally, “do not burn or be kindled with anger” on account of those who practice evil. When this instruction is combined with the parallel command in the verse to not be envious of those who commit wrong, the charge for us becomes clear. In this fallen world we will see the wicked prosper (vv. 7, 16, 21, 35) while the righteous have little (v. 7). This may cause us—like it did to Asaph in Psalm 73—to become jealous of the wicked and angry with God. We may even be tempted to try out the way of the wicked because we feel that if it’s working for them, it’ll work out for us. David tells us, “Don’t do it!” The wicked may prosper on this earth, but the Lord laughs at them because he knows their future is short (vv. 9-10, 13, 14-15, 17, 20, 22, 28, 34, 38).
Just as importantly, there is joy for the righteous in the present. God is faithful to his people here and now, knowing their needs and supplying for them their hearts’ desires. Instead of becoming angrily envious of the wicked, David calls us to “Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (v. 4). Now, out of a godly desire to avoid any hint of prosperity-gospel teaching, we may mentally correct this verse to say, “Delight yourself in the LORD and He will change your desires so that you are satisfied in what He actually provides for you.” This corrective certainly aligns with biblical principles, but that’s not what this verse is saying. It says, “Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” By interpreting this verse in the above way, we might start to be afraid to go to God with our desires, assuming that they aren’t good and that God won’t answer such prayers, or that he might even be angry with us if we go to him with our desires.
Christ, through his blood, has not only reconciled us to the Father, but he’s also given us His Spirit who intercedes for us in our prayers (Rom 8:26). And he has called us to first find our chief delight in him (and not the riches of this world), and to go to the Father with all of our desires with confidence (Heb 4:16); to truly trust that he is the giver of all good gifts (Matt 7:7-11). David’s statement in verse 4 doesn’t imply that God will give us exactly everything we want, for our desires may not always be good or according to his will. But, if we are regularly delighting in God as our chief enjoyment, we will find that our desires often good, wholesome, and pleasing to the Lord. And if we are faithful in going to him and trusting in his goodness, we will be surprised at how generous and lovely a Father he is. “Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act” (Ps 37:5).
Discuss and Pray Together: Consider and discuss what it means to delight yourself in the Lord and share some of your desires for this coming year with one another. Finish by praying in gratitude for what God has done in your lives.