There are numerous things in life that bring us joy. We may be enthralled with our work, a relationship, or our children. Perhaps the most recent automobile or technology.
“Delight in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart,” says Psalm 37:4.
There appears to be an agreement here that if we accomplish one thing, we will be rewarded with something else.
Some individuals interpret this scripture incorrectly and consider God to be a genie. What if we take Delight in him, He will grant us our heart’s desires.
Is this the meaning of this verse? In this Psalm, what exactly does King David mean?
Let’s take a closer look at what would happen When God doesn’t give you the desires of your heart.
What exactly does it mean to be delighted?
What does “pleasure” mean in this context? In one sense, it is to enjoy God in the same way that we enjoy other things.
However, when David applies the term “pleasure” in this context, he means something far more.
In verse 4, the Hebrew word “anag” is used, which means “soft, malleable, or sensitive.” Consider it as if you were a potter working with clay.
God desires for us to have delicate hearts that He can mold. He wants us to turn our hearts toward Him at the same time.
What does it imply when God says, “God will give you the desires of your heart”?
That is the polar opposite of a hardening heart, in which we become rigid. We can harden our hearts in a variety of ways: by choosing to do so or by letting life’s circumstances do so.
Perhaps you’ve had a difficult existence. Perhaps you’ve faced injustice or been persecuted by a foe. These items or persons can easily infuriate you.
Perhaps you’ve been lacking in one or more areas, such as work or a relationship. We may begin to compare ourselves to others who appear to be happier, and we may feel envy. We can even feel envious of others who commit crimes. We watch how successful they appear to be at the things they do incorrectly and wonder why we shouldn’t follow suit.
Furthermore, we may come to blame God for our predicament. We have the ability to harden our hearts not only against others but also against God.
These kinds of scenarios are addressed in Psalm 37’s earlier verses. In the first stanza, David writes:
“Do not be concerned about those who do wrong or envy of those who do wrong.”
In fact, the context of Psalm 37:4 is diametrically opposed to the preceding passages, such as verse 1.
We can become unpliable in our hearts if we harden our souls in this way. We may find ourselves focusing on all of these things rather than God. We want to enjoy these other things, and when they don’t, our hearts can become hardened.
Instead, God wants us to concentrate on Him and pleasure in Him. And if we do so, our hearts will remain soft and malleable.
Who exactly is “The LORD”?
So now we know what “delight” means. But who is this LORD in whom we are to take great delight?
Other people, such as Oprah Winfrey, have given other readings of verse 4. This was her favorite Bible verse, she said in an interview with Stephen Colbert.
Oprah, on the other hand, attempted to widen the definition to encompass a broader range of concepts. She believed that “LORD” had a broader scope and might be used to replace values like love, compassion, and forgiveness. According to her, one may rejoice in attributes that displayed God’s nature rather than in a person in general.
The LORD, on the other hand, does not mention attributes or character traits in this Psalm. It’s a specific individual. In the Old Testament, whenever the LORD is written in upper case letters (rather than simply “the Lord”), those letters are used in place of God’s name, which is Yahweh (or more precisely, YHWH).
So, rather than being a generic god, this is a highly specific and personal name for the God of Israel. Consider how you address your own father when you use the term “Dad.” When you say “Dad,” you’re not referring to someone else’s father. It’s a really specific and intimate person for you.
Similarly, the LORD (or Yahweh) in this Psalm is a highly distinct and personal figure. So when we say “I love God” or “I love the LORD,” we’re really saying “I love Yahweh,” not just “I love God” or “I love the LORD.”
When God doesn’t give you the desires of your heart What Happens?
It’s important to consider the context. The promise is not that God is compelled to or will always grant your heart’s desires. It is conditional on “relishing in Him,” which means delighting in the same things He does. When we accomplish that, no other desire matters and our hearts are so full of Him that they seek nothing more to add.
If a person places his confidence in Jesus only to have his needs met, his problems solved, or his desires fulfilled, he is missing the purpose, and his faith (if it can be called that) will eventually fail him like a sandcastle. The house will be smashed and carried away when the winds of affliction blow. It won’t be long before existence itself takes a turn for the worst.
So, if the heart’s wants aren’t being fulfilled, the heart is searching in the wrong place, is bent toward a false god, and it’s time to seek a new route. When the prophet Jeremiah declares, “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart,” he informs us where to begin. 29:13 in Jeremiah 29:13.
To put it another way, seek God with all your heart and let Him take care of the rest as He sees to your needs. That is His assurance.
Does God give you the desires of your heart?
Our hearts’ desires aren’t always good. Indeed, Jeremiah 17:9 says that the heart is the most deceitful of all things.
Consider that for a moment. When someone has harmed us, what are our hearts’ desires? We’re out for vengeance. We might even wish the other person harm. Alternatively, we may be envious of others and wish for what they have – their marriage, their property, and so on.
James 4:3 also says that we don’t always get what we ask for because we ask with the wrong motivations, such as spending all we obtain on our pleasures.
To put it another way, we often seek things so that we can enjoy them for ourselves. In our life, what we desire might become idols. God isn’t going to give us anything that will take His place or cause us to drift further away from Him.
God wants us to be enamored with Him and fix our gaze on Him for His own reason, not for the pleasures He can provide.
So, what does this mean in terms of the promise in verse 4?
What are the heart’s desires that David mentions in this Psalm?
What does it mean when God says He will grant us our “desires of your heart” if it doesn’t mean exactly what our hearts desire?
The spiritually more appropriate meaning of Psalm 37:4 is that when we delight in the LORD for His own cause, two things happen:
a) The LORD will become the object of our affections.
In that sense, God will grant you your heart’s desires. And as you grow in your love for the LORD, you gain a better understanding of His character and are able to put your trust in Him. God becomes the very thing you yearn for, and the more you seek Him out, the more you learn about Him.
Psalm 84 is an excellent example of this. The Psalmist writes in verses 1-2: “How beautiful is your abode, Lord Almighty!” My soul longs even faint, to be free. Destined for the Lord’s courts; my flesh and heart scream for help.
“In the name of the living God.” Alternatively, in verse 10: “One day in your courts is preferable.” than a thousand in other places; “I’d rather be a doorkeeper in my God’s house.”
The Psalmist desires God beyond all else in those passages. The writer finds joy in being in God’s presence rather than anywhere else.
b) Certain spiritual desires that come from God are ignited or placed in our hearts by God.
Remember how our hearts softened and became more pliable? We make room in our hearts for God to offer or place the things He desires in us when we pleasure in Him. We can’t receive these gifts that God wishes to give us if our hearts are closed or hardened.
God’s desires for our hearts could be a call to use our gifts to serve Him in a certain way. It could also mean feeling sympathy for things we didn’t previously feel. Consider the words “tear my heart for what breaks yours – Everything I am for Your kingdom’s cause” from Hillsong’s worship hymn.
My personal life is an example of this philosophy.
Psalm 37:4 has a special meaning for me. For many years, I’ve been in a long-term wilderness where things haven’t gone as planned in my life. I often felt unable to fulfill my full potential or discover my mission during those times. I also had a strong desire to do something eternally significant for God, something that would make a difference while utilizing my abilities.
Verse 4 kept ringing in my ears. So, rather than attempting to figure out exactly what God wanted me to do in order for Him to make a difference, I just resolved to delight in God for the sake of God, regardless of any benefit I might gain. This required more prayer, Bible study, and a focus on the receiver rather than the giver
Despite having a Master’s degree in theology, I’m a pretty visual person who prefers viewing pictures over reading a block of words. I used to enjoy reading comic books as a kid (hence the comic book reference above to Secret Wars). I reasoned that if I could locate a comic book Bible, it would encourage me to spend more time in God’s word.
In order to find out, I tested out a few comic book Bibles. However, none of them satisfied me totally because they were more like Bible stories than complete Bible texts that I could follow along with. I wanted to be able to read it as scripture and dwell on it as if it were a regular Bible, with the exception that it would be illustrated.
I had accepted the idea that there was probably nothing on the market that would meet my requirements. That’s when I heard God say to me, “Well if you don’t like them, why don’t you make your own Bible graphic novel?”
I was hesitant at first since it seemed like such a daunting endeavor. However, as I prayed about it, I realized that Psalm 37:4 was coming into play.
7 Steps to Receiving the Desires of Your Heart
1. Develop a Vision
“I’m giving you and your successors all of this country, as far as the eye can see.” –Genesis 13:15 (NASB)
Having a vision is the first step in receiving your heart’s wishes. You can have it if you can see it. That isn’t to say that if you want something strongly enough, you won’t obtain it. It means that if you can capture a vision in your spirit (inward man) and trust it, you will obtain what you pray for (Mark 11:24).
When Moses sent 12 spies to scout the Promised Land, that’s exactly what happened. They all witnessed the same events, had the same experiences, and were given the same information. Despite this, they returned with diametrically opposed reports. “We are not able to go up against the folks because they are too strong for us,” ten of the twelve said (Numbers 13:31, NASB).
However, Joshua and Caleb had a vision of what God could do to grant them their hearts’ desires. “We should go up and take ownership of it,” they continued, “since we will undoubtedly overcome it” (verse 30, NASB). They were the only ones who saw it—two out of twelve!
Those who can see their goals come true and those who can’t (or won’t) are two types of people. The victor’s circle will only include one group. Don’t let skeptics persuade you out of what is rightfully yours. Catch a vision of your heart’s desires in your spirit with the Word of God, and declare out, “I will take ownership of my heart’s wants by all means, for I am well able to overcome any obstacle by my God!”
2. Isolate from the outside world
“Are you aware that making friends with the world makes you an adversary of God?” 4:4 –James
When you see yourself obtaining your heart’s wishes, it’s time to prepare your heart to receive them. “Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness,” says the Bible. Delight yourself in the Lord as well” (Psalm 37:3-4, NKJV).
How do you go about doing this? The only way to give God first priority in your life is to unplug from the outside world. Many believers are perplexed as to why wonderful things never seem to come their way. They expect God to perform His part, but they refuse to fulfill theirs.
“You must reach the point where you are qualified to receive the excellent things that God desires to give you. When you seek Him, trust Him, and delight yourself in Him, it is His obligation to provide you with the good things that will satisfy your heart’s desires.
You will be disqualified from the promises if you begin to pursue the things you want in life rather than God. So look for God’s face rather than His hand. You will qualify to receive all that God has given if you pursue closeness with Him. And the best part is that you won’t be short on anything excellent.”
Make a daily commitment to connecting with God, to feed on His faithfulness, and to pleasure in Him. Trust in His love for you, and He will grant you all of your heart’s wishes.
3. Let Go of Forgiveness
“Get rid of everything that is a hindrance.” (Hebrews) 12:1 (NIV)
You’ve had a vision and are cut off from the rest of the world; perhaps you’ve already accomplished much more. Maybe you’ve tried everything you can think of. When you’re standing in faith to obtain your heart’s desires, you’ve probably thought of Ephesians 6:13, which reads, “having done everything…stand” (KJV). People, on the other hand, frequently do only what they want to do, not what they are compelled to accomplish.
Unforgiveness is one of the most typical situations where individuals fail to see it. It’s the biggest stumbling block to achieving your heart’s objectives. Part of the reason for this is that people have a misunderstanding of what forgiving really entails. It is not a particular favor to forgive someone. It doesn’t justify their actions, and it doesn’t even imply a mended relationship. In fact, forgiveness is a process that takes place within you rather than between you and another person. It’s a personal, silent transformation in your heart.
More than anything else, forgiving another person sets you free. That is why Paul urged Christians to “concentrate on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what is ahead” (Philippians 3:13).
Make a decision to forgive whatever has been said about you, done to you, or taken from you, no matter how big or tiny. Obey God, let go of resentment, look forward to what lies ahead, and watch as the way to your heart’s desire appears before you.
4. Love isn’t a one-size-fits-all proposition.
“Love is the greatest of these.” –13:13 in 1 Corinthians (NIV)
Are you beginning to realize that obtaining your heart’s objectives entails a lot of moving parts? It resembles the human body. And, while each element has a distinct purpose, none of them can operate without one component circulating and flowing through them all: blood. It’s a complicated system that supplies and recovers what each body part needs and nothing else operate without it.
The same is true for your spirit man, with the exception that love is the most important factor in the spirit realm. Love Himself created the entire universe (God). Love is what saved and delivered us, what healed us, and what keeps us alive on this planet. It is so powerful that without it (both given and received), one’s physical body might degenerate, resulting in sickness and disease.
When you stop loving someone, you stop the blood flow to your entire body. Living without love suffocates your spiritual existence in different ways. You can’t obey God’s Word until you have loved: you can’t forgive, give, or prevent yourself from evil unless you have love. The lifeblood of your heart’s desires is love.
What does Psalm 37:4 refer to? It’s not a promise to people who have gotten enamored with or delighted in the goods of the world, to be sure. Instead, it’s a promise to people who delight in the LORD – to those who have prioritized God in their lives.
And, unlike general character attributes, it’s about a specific person — the LORD or Yahweh.
“Be soft and pliable to Yahweh, and He will mold and plant in you your heart’s desires,” says verse 4.
In what ways have you experienced joy in the LORD in your own life? Did you find yourself wishing for more of Him? What kind of virtuous passions did He bestow upon you to exploit for His glory?
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