08 May 2012

Delighting in God

Psalm 37:4 Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.

Beautiful statement.  Great promise.  Comforting words.  Frequently referenced.  Unfortunately, the verse is often misinterpreted and misapplied.  What we like to take away from that final portion – he shall give thee the desires of thine heart – is God giving us what we want, based on the condition that we delight ourselves in Him. 

By no means would I say that God doesn’t, at times, give us the things that we desire.  (And I’m sure we’re all thankful for whenever that happens.)  But nor would I say that’s necessarily the meaning of the verse.  Perhaps the promise is actually far better.

Here’s what we can all see and agree on: if I delight myself in the Lord, then He will give me desires.  Beyond that, the wording allows for two possibilities: (1) God will give me what I want (the common view), or (2) God will give me desires; that is, He will give me HIS desires and place those desires in my heart. 

Which is better, Christian friend?  Which more closely fits everything else we know from the Bible?  Obviously the second alternative.  The Bible says that my heart is deceitful and desparately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9).  The Bible says I don’t know what I ought to pray for (Romans 8:26).  Sometimes what I want and what I need are two totally different things.  Sometimes what I ask for and what is best for me are two totally different things.

And God knows what we don’t.  I know what I want (most of the time).  God knows what I need (all the time).  So I’m far better off with God putting desires in my heart than God granting the desires that are there. 

But that’s not the purpose of this post.  (We’ve dealt with all that before: click here and here.)  The question I’ve long had is this:

What does it mean to delight in the Lord?  
Understanding what is being promised in Psalm 37:4, how do I go about obtaining it?

Came across a cross-reference recently that I think provides the answer.

Isaiah 58:13-14 If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord…

How’s that?  If you want to delight yourself in the Lord, if you want God to put His desires in your heart, these verses lay it out quite simply.  Stop doing your own thing; stop seeking your own pleasure; stop speaking your own words.  In other words,

Romans 12:1-2 …present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God…that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.  Isaiah 58:14 Then shalt thou delight thyself alos in the Lord…  Psalm 37:4 …and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.

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