If I asked you what the greatest, deepest, desire of your heart is, what would you say? Think about that for a minute and then read this verse from Psalm 37.
“Delight yourself also in the Lord,
And He shall give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4 NKJV
This is such a wonderful verse, such a sweet promise from a Father to His children. It reminds me of how we relate to our little ones. We want to give them all the things their hearts desire. And we want them to also desire to know us, love us, and have fellowship with us.
I must admit though, my understanding of this well known verse has recently changed, or at least become much deeper than it has been in the past. I used to read this verse and think that it meant that if I genuinely seek to follow God, pray, read the Bible, go to church, then as a result He’s going to bless me with the things I want most in my heart. Sign me up!
Now to be honest, that is partly true. In my own life God has been more kind and more generous than I can even begin to describe. Many times when I have turned to Him in prayer He has given me not only what I asked for specifically, but so much more than I could have imagined! I believe when He does this, it is to display His unmatched kindness and generosity to us.
The part of my understanding that has changed is actually just a subtlety in the way the words of this verse are read. I had always read it like this: “Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4 NKJV
As in, because your delight is in Him, He will give you those things that you already want so deeply in your heart. Not a bad thing, but maybe not complete.
Now let’s read it this way: “Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4 NKJV
As in, the desires that are in my heart are there because God is the one who has and will put them there. That blew my mind when I first heard it preached that way. It was like the lightbulb just came on bright and clear.
What if the things I long for so deeply are actually in my heart because God placed them there according to His perfect will for my life? What if He did the same thing for you? But how do we know if our desires are God’s will or just our own?
The first thing we can do is make sure they are in agreement with God’s Word in the Bible. Do our desires agree with God’s promises and commands, or are they against them? Would achieving them be for our ultimate good and that of others? And most importantly, would they bring glory to God?
Lately, it has been my prayer to ask God to confirm in my heart the desires that come from Him. I also ask Him to take away those that are not His will so that I will not be confused or distracted chasing after things that are not His best for my life and the lives of my family.
The specific ways that God might want to use you, and the desires He wants to bring to fruition in your life are probably the ones that will keep growing stronger in your heart the more you pray. Those not from Him tend to fade away over time.
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33 NIV
Another way we can have confidence that the desires of our heart are God’s will is by following the command that Jesus gives us in Matthew chapter 6, to seek His kingdom first and above all else. We can respond to life’s uncertainties and decisions and line up our desires with His will by constantly drawing closer to Him. We do this by reading about Him in His Word, and talking to Him through prayer. The more we do those things every day, the more we will get to know Him, and our own desires will begin to reflect His will. And in this beautiful cycle the more we know Him, the more we want to! And then one day we realize that knowing God Himself has become our greatest desire, more than anything else we want in the world!
“Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you.” Psalm 73:25 NIV
“And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” John 17:3 NKJV
Going back to Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.” I keep thinking about what it means to “delight” in someone. I know my children bring me great delight. But do I “delight also in the Lord?” And what does that look like? Some words that come to my mind when I try to understand delight, are people or things in my life that bring me great joy and happiness. To delight in the Lord means so much more I think. It means that He is my ultimate joy, my true happiness, my hope, my strength, my salvation, the one I want to be with and know intimately, the most precious treasure of my heart. Everything.
“I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart.” Jeremiah 24:7 NIV
When you started reading I asked you to think about your greatest desire. Did you figure it out? We went from talking about how God can give you your heart’s desires, to how He will give you those desires that He wills for you. Finally, knowing God Himself will become what we want more than anything in this life. He will truly be our delight and desire! That is my prayer for me and for you today.
The more you seek God’s will, the more you read His Word, the more you talk to the Lord in prayer, the more you realize that all good things come from Him, the more He will you give you what you long for, because He Himself will become your deepest heart’s desire!