For many Christians Psalm 37 contains one of their favorite Bible verses. Having this verse as a favorite is great unless it becomes a mantra for our own selfishness.
Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4 ESV)
If we are not careful, we can fall prey to the same thinking as expressed by Janis Joplin when she sang, Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz? Surely we are not that crass. But do we sometimes think deep down that if I just delight in the Lord enough, that Mercedes could be mine? Maybe luxury cars aren’t your thing. Perhaps you would complete the line of the song with something else. Is that really what the psalmist is speaking about in this passage?
Let’s examine the desire of Paul’s heart .
Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. (Romans 10:1 ESV)
Notice that Paul coupled the desire of his heart with his prayer. Perhaps Paul understood that when one delights in the Lord, the very desires of the heart are given by the Lord. As followers of Christ, it is important for us to periodically examine what are the desires of our hearts.
We live in a culture that speaks of the heart’s desires as something that cannot be controlled. But that is not true. Sometimes these desires may be flat out wrong. We are warned specifically about two wrong desires.
Let them not say in their hearts, “Aha, our heart’s desire!” Let them not say, “We have swallowed him up.” (Psalm 35:25 ESV)
In this Psalm we find that a heart desire for the destruction of God’s people was indeed a wrong thing.
Do not desire her beauty in your heart, and do not let her capture you with her eyelashes; (Proverbs 6:25 ESV)
The writer of Proverbs warns against having a heart desire for an adulteress woman.
Back to Paul. The desire of his heart was that his kinsmen would be saved. Not only did he desire it, he prayed that it would be so. Perhaps we can know just how well we are delighting in the Lord by how longingly we desire and pray for those in our circles to be saved.
Do we want our lost family members to come to faith in Christ? Do we want our countrymen to be saved? How about our neighbors? Lord, may you fill our hearts with these desires. May we delight in you – the one who saves.