*Published today in the Tuscola County Advertiser*
There are plenty of Scripture verses that are often abused and misused. Theologians call it “proof-texting.” What they mean is, we take our presuppositions and bring them to the text and interpret it through our feelings and/or thoughts. Instead of interpreting the verse in its historical context, and reading it through what the author was trying to say, we take our circumstances, political views, worldviews and passions and place them upon the text and read it that way.
Psalm 37:4 is one of those verses. It reads: “Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” It’s a simple verse, but one that can be twisted. Many people read this and think that God will grant them whatever they wish. They take the “genie-in-the-bottle” approach to this passage and think that God is going to somehow use their idolatrous behavior to be an end in itself. As if God is in heaven granting our (sometimes) petty requests for more money, a bigger house, and a nicer car so that we can affix our eyes on them instead of Him. This verse cannot mean that if we somehow have a particular affection for God that whatever it is our sinful little hearts conjure up He will then grant us. This violates other Scripture, not the least of course is the first two commandments of the Ten Commandments. (See also Jeremiah 17:9 for a quick recap of what are hearts do!).
What David is communicating is rooted in the context of the passage. It is a Wisdom Psalm that clearly draws the line between the “wicked” and the “righteous.” David says that the wicked will prosper, and there will be adversity. There will never be (until the Return of Christ) a moment when evil will be gone. “Deal with it,” he says. And not just deal with it, “Change your focus. Look somewhere else.” David instructs us to “commit…trust…be still…refrain” (vs. 5-8). The center of this passage is verse four. We are commanded to delight ourselves in the LORD. This isn’t a suggestion nor is it a mere peripheral issue. It takes center stage.
What David is telling us is that our focus cannot be the focus of the wicked. We simply cannot worry about them and what they do. Their desires are polluted and misguided. We must focus our affections, emotions, and physical life on the command to delight. Is God desirable to you? Is He really enough for you? That’s what David is asking us today. And not only that, he promises that when you delight yourself in the LORD, he will give you the desires of your heart. And the “desires of your heart,” is the person who is the object of that delight, namely the LORD.
God isn’t going to give you an idol to worship. He’s given you Jesus, and he is enough. When you delight yourself in the LORD, you get God. And he is infinitely desirable. “God is most glorified in you when you are most satisfied in him,” says John Piper. He’s absolutely right. You give God the most glory when your desires are focused on Him.