Text: Psalm 37:4 | Listen to Message
It’s one of the favorite verses of the Prosperity Gospel crowd:
“Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
Think of all the desires you have! Think of all the things you want! Just believe in God, and he’ll make all of your wildest dreams come true!
I dunno, sounds more like a “Vote for Pedro” t-shirt than a sound interpretation of Psalm 37. If your prayers treat God like a Magical Sky Genie or a Cosmic Vending Machine, if your religion makes life all about God serving you, if delighting in God is really just a manipulative way to get what you want, you’ve missed The Good News.
That said, Psalm 37:4 means something really amazing for your life, and here are three keys to understanding it:
1. Pay attention to the context.
In context, King David is recognizing how we tend to get all worked up over the prosperity of the wicked. It’s easy to become angry, envious, frustrated, and resentful, when this is your focus.
But David calls us to look ahead to the future – when the wicked are cut off and the righteous get the inheritance. It’s very likely this has something to do with the meaning of verse 4 – something like, “Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will ultimately keep you and give you everything your heart desires.”
2. Pay attention to the focus.
The focus of verse 4 is not on what you desire, it’s on what you delight in. It’s almost as if God is saying, “You pay attention to what you delight in, and I’ll pay attention to your desires.”
We have a way of turning this around, don’t we? We are far more interested in our desires than in delighting in God. And that means we’re going to have to walk in repentance and faith. Repentance for all the things we want more than God. Faith for the confidence that God truly is our greatest possible delight.
If we put our focus where the verse does, we’d hear it saying something like this: “Delight yourself in the LORD – in his character, his works, his promises. Seek him as your greatest treasure. Trust that he is the most satisfying, pleasure-giving, joy-producing thing in the universe. Let go of everything that competes for preeminence in your affections, and chase hard after Christ. Now, ask what you will.”
3. Pay attention to the gospel.
The gospel is not, “God exists to give you whatever you desire.” It’s more like, “Jesus saves you from every destructive desire and liberates you to enjoy the greatest possible delight – forever.”
See, the gospel first confronts the bad news that our hearts are deceived, distorted, and eventually destroyed, by our own desires. Like Gollum clinging to “My Precious” in The Lord of The Rings, our desires can easily come to have power over us. We don’t just need better desires, we need deliverance.
So Jesus enters our world as the one True Desire we were created for. He is the only thing we can never love too much, for in his love we come alive. By delighting ourselves in him, by pursuing him as our greatest treasure, by finding our satisfaction and joy in him, we truly live.
This is not to minimize justification. Quite the opposite, it’s to show you why Christ justifies the unrighteous by grace. It is to enlarge your delight and to satisfy you with the only thing that can ultimately satisfy.