I’ve noticed something about how we often quote scripture that I find peculiar. Sometimes, by way of habit or neglect, we cite one part of a passage while omitting the other.
For instance, take Psalm 37:4:
“Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart”.
It’s a wonderful passage, a very comforting, short-and-sweet promise that we love to quote. I get a little concerned, though, when it is quoted even shorter than it is actually written.
I think we often like to hear the part about being given the desires of our hearts, while we skip (or gloss over) the obvious fact that there’s a clause right before it, which is “Delight yourself in the Lord….
If understood correctly, this passage is stating a conditional promise. IF we delight in the Lord first, THEN He will give us the desires of our hearts. Given the context of the passage in Psalms, we cannot dictate what we think God is obligated to give us.
What does it mean to “delight in the Lord” and why is having the desires of our hearts conditional to it?
To delight in the Lord means that our joy will be in Him, in knowing Him, talking to Him, and reading His word. I can see at least two reasons why our ultimate desire and contentment is conditional to delighting in Him:
1) Protection from our own foolish hearts. Even as God’s own, we have a mortal tendency to wrestle with our own desires that may be outside of God’s will. If our focus is on Him, we have no room to stray.
2) Even more than that, when we delight in the Lord, (and here’s the sweet irony) our desires will align to His desires for us. When we delight in Him, our heart’s desire will be fulfilled, because our delight will be in Him before anything else. We sometimes think that the purpose of religion is for God to help us, when the truth is that it is always to please God.
In writing this post, I’ve asked myself to examine my prayers, and I realize how easily limited my focus can be in light of the greater perspective of delighting in Him on a daily basis.
“You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you”. (Deut.4:2)
Are you on the right track right now, following the full counsel of God’s word, or finding yourself lost without a portion of His instruction?