June 17, 2016 • Life for Leaders
Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Psalm 37:4 is one of those verses that Christians can twist to suit their own fancy. For example, I have heard some preachers claim, on the basis of this verse, that God will give us anything we desire. If we simply “claim it,” God will give us mansions, yachts, luxury cars, and, well, you name it. To be sure, God can and does bless us materially. But to argue from Psalm 37:4 that “God will give you anything you want” misses the whole point of the verse.
The more we take delight in the Lord, the more we will discover that what we desire most of all is a truer and more vital relationship with him.
Yes, this verse does promise that the Lord “will give you the desires of your heart.” But notice the context. That promise comes after an imperative: “Take delight in the LORD.” If we put our delight in God, then he will give us the desires of our heart.
How does this happen? It isn’t some kind of divine reward system. Psalm 37:4 does not mean that if we delight in God he will reward us by giving us all the luxuries we want. Rather, if we delight in God, if we focus our heart on God and God’s nature, if we love God with all that we are, then the desires of our heart will be transformed. We will stop being so concerned about our own “stuff” and will start to yearn for the things of God, for his truth and peace, for his justice and mercy. Our desires will begin to reflect God’s own desires for us and for this world. Thus we will want what God wants, and he will give that which is according to his will.
Moreover, the more we take delight in the Lord, the more we will discover that what we desire most of all is a truer and more vital relationship with him. Strangely enough, intimacy with God both satisfies our deepest longing and intensifies that longing. So, as we learn to enjoy God’s presence, our heart’s desires will be increasingly focused on God. We will seek him above all and, by his grace, find him. Thus God will give us the deepest desire of our heart . . . the desire for more of him!
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
When have you delighted in God?
What helps you to enjoy God’s presence?
How has your relationship with God shaped the desires of your heart?
Gracious God, there is nothing better than delighting in you. To be with you and enjoy your presence is magnificent beyond words. Thank you for making yourself available to us, so that we might taste and see that you are good.
O Lord, help us to delight in you more consistently. We are so easily distracted. We can let the things and demands of our lives get in the way of our relationship with you. Forgive us, Lord. By your mercy, increase our desire for you. Augment our delight in you by revealing yet more of yourself to us.
I ask you, dear Lord, to align my desires according to the ways of your own heart. May I want what you want. May I seek that which is consistent with your will. Let your will guide my prayers, my actions, my words, and my desires.
All praise be to you, gracious God, because you give me the desires of my heart. Most of all, you give me the inestimable gift of relationship with you. Amen.
Explore online Bible commentary: Introduction to Psalms at the Theology of Work Project.
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.