I hear people quote Psalm 37:4 all the time. “Delight yourself in the Lord,” they say, “and He will give you the desires of your heart.” I used to just breeze past that verse like it was just another nice promise in the so-called name-it-claim-it philosophy. For those who don’t know, name-it-claim-it is part of the Prosperity doctrine preached by those who believe if I have faith, whatever I name God will give me. God is not a vending machine or a magical genie, and spoiling me with everything I want is not love.
Recently, I questioned the way that verse has been presented. I picked up my Bible to read the verse and was surprised at what I learned. First, the ones who were preaching/reciting that verse were likely reading another translation which left out a word. The omitted word is a tiny, yet massively important word in the verse: “also.”
The verse says in the NKJV, “Delight yourself ALSO in the Lord and He shall give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4, emphasis mine).” To say “also” means something else is required in addition to delighting in Him. This should lead us to look at the context of the verse and check other translations for consistency. It says in the verse prior (v3, NKJV), “Trust in the Lord, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.” THEN it says (v4), “Delight yourself ALSO in the Lord and He shall give you the desires of your heart.”
This tells me not only must I be happy with knowing and loving Him, I also need to learn to trust Him, feed on His faithfulness, and delight in Him. I can do these things by praying regularly, studying the Bible, and attending church.
The second thing I learned occurred to me later when I asked Him what the verse meant. It says, “He will give you the desires of your heart,” but suddenly I heard it in a new way. I thought that I may have been putting the emphasis in the wrong place. The verse doesn’t say God will give me whatever I want, but when I place my trust in Him, live for Him, and do good through Him, then He will implant in my heart the desires He wants me to have. And when He does, I will know I am in His will and my steps are, in fact, directed by Him.
If “the heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9 NKJV), then I can be swayed by emotion and pride. I can want something, but it may not be right for me. Truly, “every way of a man is right in his eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart,” and, “a man’s steps are ordered of the Lord; how then can a man know it?” It would be so much better to have the Lord GIVE me the desires I should have in my heart.
Prayer: Lord, help me to trust you, to dwell in the land and do good. Help me to constantly remind myself of Your faithfulness and express my thanks for it, and delight also in You, for You are a delight! Give me the desires I should have in my heart and let everything else fall away. Help me to heed the nudging of Your Holy Spirit to know when the desires, hopes, or dreams I have are not aligned with Your will. Finally, help me to know how to give those things up in exchange for Your perfect and pleasing will.
In Jesus’ name, Amen
- Scriptures taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.
(Taken from my Facebook page, Posted September, 2018)