Delight yourself in the Lord, And He will give you the desires and petitions of your heart.
This passage in Psalms is sometimes misunderstood. Some have though that it means God will give us all the things we desire in exchange for delighting in Him. Instead, He works in our hearts to change what we desire.
The source of our delight shapes the nature of our desires. If we delight in someone, we genuinely want that person to be happy. If we delight in acquiring bigger and better possessions, we won’t be able to stop until we have enough to satisfy us- which never happens. And if we delight in God, our interactions with Him shape our hearts so that we gradually desire what He desires and value what He values.
Author and pastor John Piper has said, “God is most glorified in us when we are the most satisfied in him.” To delight in God is to be satisfied and, in fact, thrilled with His love, forgiveness, and purpose for us. As we know and love Him more, we want to pursue His will, we make choices to follow His leading, and we take action to accomplish things He has directed us to do.
It doesn’t take a psychologist to unlock the secrets of our desires. We need only to look at what excites us, what frustrates us, and what hopes and fears fill our minds. We can choose, though, to focus on God, to delight in Him so that He gradually changes the desires of our hearts to fit more with His.
Ability can take you to the top, but it takes character to keep you there.
If we will make the choice, God will make the change.
Christmas is the season of the year when we are given permission to express unashamedly our desires. Children visit Santas at malls and sit on his lap and whisper in his ear what they want for Christmas. And on Christmas morning there are lots of happy people, but there are also many unhappy people as well. Many will wake on Christmas morning and unfortunately not have what they desire.
Many seek to fill their lives with things, toys, possessions, position, and prestige only to find that they never find satisfaction. One of the wealthiest men in the world, John Rockefeller was asked what he would like to attain and he answered, “One more dollar.” In spite of his accumulated wealth, he found he wasn’t satisfied. Many of those whom are idolized live unfulfilled lives. Although they may have fame, fortune, or success they really aren’t happy with life. Many of them die in misery. To desire the riches of this world is a futile pursuit for those who have done so quite often live in fear of losing it.
How sad it is that there are those who proclaim as Christians that God exists to serve at their pleasure, giving them the selfish desires of their hearts so they can live a life of luxury. To justify their false teaching they use verses like Psalm 37:4 and distorting it to say that God will give us the desires of our hearts without our heart being changed from its selfish and often sinful desires.
The point of the verse is not that we get whatever we desire but that God has become the delight of our lives. We live each day to bring Him pleasure, not just to please Him but to bring Him pleasure. There are many who work hard to please God just so they qualify for His benefits. You hear this often expressed when someone is expecting an answer to prayer or when the need God to intervene. The Israelites practiced this idea of pleasing God by doing what they though He expected and demanded but many times their hearts weren’t in it. To some degree they treated God like a slave-master and hoped that by doing what He commanded they wouldn’t incur His displeasure.
But those who delight in God, do so without any demands or expectations. They are the ones who enjoy being with God, talking with God, and they are content with their place in life. They have found completeness and satisfaction in God alone and while they enjoy the blessings God provides, they are happy with or without any of them. Paul says it this way, “I’ve learned that whatever state I am in, I find contentment.” These words came from a man who in his previous life sought knowledge, power and influence and now since he had found “the treasure of great price,” his delight was in God. Not what God gave or God did, but just in God Himself.
Once we come to the place where our hearts are changed, the things of God, the will of God and the desires of God become a delight to us. As we pursue what delights God, He in turn delights in giving us blessings beyond compare, blessings that exceed our imagination, for He knows He has our hearts.
It’s not easy to give up our worldly desires and God isn’t asking us to take vows of poverty, but when we allow God to capture our hearts and we find Him as the source of our joy, our peace, and our completeness, then everything else we have in life becomes a delight and not a demand. We become truly free.
So go ahead, make the pursuit of God your first priority, let Him become the desire or your heart. Remember the words of Christ who said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, all these things shall be added to you.” Give it a try. Seek God for God alone. You’ll be delighted with the outcome. Learn to trust Him without demand. Learn to wait on Him. Know that He loves you more than you can imagine and He really delights in blessing you.
Dr. John Thompson