Take delight in the LORD, and He will give you your heart’s desires. (Psalm 37:4)
Hoo, boy. Few Bible verses carry as much potential to turn us into mercenaries.
“Love God and he’ll give you things” – yeah, that’s just begging to go down the wrong alleys. How do we handle such a verse? How do we treasure God and his opinions on things in light of such an offer? It’s Scripture. It can’t be wrong. So there must be a solution to this conundrum.
Don’t obey God to get things, obey God to get God. – Tim Keller
For me, it is the sheer intensity of “delight”.
“Delight” doesn’t just mean a vague affection, certainly not a conditional one. It means delight. An intense love that crowds out other considerations. I don’t just like my mom – I delight in her, such that I’d make her a priority over a great many things. Same with my friends. (That’s why they’re friends.)
Delight can’t be faked. God sees right through it, and we’d never trust our own motives without it. When we delight in God, the first half of Psalm 37:4 outshines the second half, which sidles up to us out of nowhere while we’re absorbed with God.
I know – tall order.
How do we delight in God so freely when we have so many beefs with all he has allowed? It’s the question instantly begged upon the word “delight”.Some of our lives resemble Mordor – ashes and geysers everywhere you look.
That was the fork at which I stood.
All I can say is, I chose delight. It wasn’t some saintly nobility – I just knew the way back was cut off.
Simon Peter answered, “Lord, who will we go to? You have the words of eternal life.” John 6:68)
And I found that things really do operate the way God describes.
The Christian who desires more money must release it, trusting so fully in God’s creative provision that charity becomes the greater joy.
The Christian who desires upward mobility must instead wash feet.
The Christian who desires more friendship must offer it, gushing like a spring upon those around him (as Christ did) rather than incessantly drawing inwards.
The Christian who desires a spouse must be filled with Christ now, so that they will not grasp like an empty one.
The Christian who desires justice must not seek it by his own hand, but depend on God’s watchfulness and convicting power. (You might be interested to know that justice is actually the strict context of Psalm 37).
At each point, our desire is tested to determine its worth. Some would survive the fire, others would not (Psalm 37:4’s applicability to Lamborghini’s is doubtful), but all must be sublimated to Christ.
And no matter what the cherished object, we must delight in his timing.
God has a funny way of keeping dreams alive. It’s one of the great paradoxes. He brings our dreams around. But they happen in his way, according to his calculations and machinations, and often with a more eternal reach (like the artist whose future work might raise souls instead of curtains).
It is difficult to delight amidst the Mordor of this world. But if we choose it anyway, we will be rescued, pulled out of the cataclysm and awakened in a new home.
The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord;
he is their stronghold in time of trouble.
The Lord helps them and delivers them;
he delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
because they take refuge in him. (Psalm 37:39-40)