Perhaps one of the most misinterpreted verses in the Bible behind Matthew 7:1 (“Judge not, that ye be not judged.”) is Psalm 37:4 ~ “Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.”
We hear this verse quoted over and over again to and by people who are waiting for something to happen in their lives, whether it’s marriage, children, a new home, financial success, or some other big dream we may have.
I can’t tell you how many times over the years I have had people quote this verse to me in an effort to be encouraging. Their hearts were in the right place, but they were trying to make this verse say something it doesn’t say. I’m not just pointing the finger at others; I’ve been guilty of doing it too.
When there is something we really want, we tend to gravitate to this verse and hold it in a death grip, without realizing we are completely taking it out of context and missing the meaning altogether.
At the risk of being controversial, it still needs to be said:
God has not nor will He ever promise to give us what we want.
“But wait a minute! You just quoted the verse and that’s what it says!” Is it?
It isn’t saying that if we love Jesus, He has to give us our heart’s desires. It often is read and understood that way, but it’s really not saying that at all…and it’s dangerous to look at it like that.
If this is what we truly believe, we have reduced the God of Heaven to no more than a genie in a bottle who has to grant our wishes.
Following this interpretation, it’s also easy to get bitter and angry at God when our dreams don’t come true.
Listen, I love Disney and fairy tales as much or more than the next girl, but that’s just what they are – fairy tales. They aren’t real. More often than not, our lives are not going to meet this world’s standard of “happily ever after,” and if this verse promised us that, we could stick our finger in God’s face and accuse Him of letting us down.
The sad thing is many of us have done just that…maybe not in those words, but in our hearts we feel like God has withheld something we believe we are owed, and it is His fault we are unhappy.
Who are we to accuse God of anything?
All that we are or ever hope to be is of His mercy alone.
A.W. Tozer said, “I think it is a dangerous thing to associate the working of God with our prosperity and success. I cannot promise that if you follow the Lord, you will experience every dream or financial prosperity. Down through the years, following the Lord has meant we count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ.”
But we don’t really like that idea, do we?
Instead of only focusing on the ending of this verse, look at what it really says.
“Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.”
To delight ourselves in Him is to take great pleasure in who He is and to look to Him alone for our joy and fulfillment. When our heart is focused solely on Christ and we are delighting in Him, what will be our heart’s desire? More of Jesus! And He is more than willing to give us that desire and longing for more of Himself.
The whole of chapter 37 in Psalms is full of commands and promises. We are told over and over to rest in the Lord, wait patiently for Him, delight in Him, trust in Him. If we are doing these things, our heart and our desires will be wrapped up in Christ…not just giving a mental acknowledgment of these things so we can get what we really want. When HE is what we really want, He is what we will have.
Again, listen, I’m not saying that when you find yourself delighting and satisfying in the Lord that all these other dreams will immediately fall away and you’ll never want anything ever again. I’m not even saying you should never have any hopes, dreams, or desires besides Christ.
I’m just saying that when our hearts are focused on Him and desiring His will for our lives, all those other dreams will no longer be the most important thing. If that’s not what He wants for our lives, we are willing to lay them aside for Him.
We may have an ending like Abraham and God give us back our Isaac. We may one day hold the very things in our hands we dreamed of for so long, and have no one to thank for them but God.
…Or our story may have a completely different ending than what we initially imagined, but often times, those are the best stories in the end.
No matter what, He is still deserving of our lives, He is still enough to satisfy our hearts, and He is still good.
Follow Him. Serve Him. Delight in Him. Love Him. Trust me, He is worth it. ❤️