To believe him and delight in him.
The other day at Starbucks I did what any good pastor would do in my circumstances. Surrounded by holiday shoppers, girlfriends sharing intimate secrets, couples working through shopping lists, and guys trying to outmaneuver one another, I eavesdropped. For the purist this means I listened in on the conversation of the two people at the next table. I'm not really sure about the context of their words. They could have been talking Christmas gifts, work related frustrations, marriage complications, serious health issues, or the weather. So, whatever it was, my response may be off the charts, if you know what I mean. Still, one of the individuals said, "Don't sweat it. God loves you and promises to give you the desires of your heart!" It was a holly jolly moment if there ever was one. Relief washed over the other person like he'd been given a pillow case full of cash or the cure of some dreaded disease or a lifetime get-out-jail-free card.
It's just an example of how us humans have turned God's promise of Psalm 37:4 into a heavenly ATM. You know the one, "Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart." We whisper it to people struggling financially, those dealing with the dark side of work life, couples in the throes of a marriage crisis, as well as to children wishing through their Santa list. Of course, you and I know this verse and others like it are promises from God and therefore represent the generous and gracious heart of God for his people. Just the same, we humans are apt to provide the counsel of this verse is an extremely casual way. Humans conformed to the metrics of a consumer culture will speak such promises in order to immerse our material systems to at least a tinge of spiritual truth.
it is a remarkable promise from a power packed Psalm. Of the many commentaries explaining the truth behind Psalm 37:4 in the context of the entire teaching I prefer Spurgeon's The Treasury of David. You can read this trustworthy examination of Psalm 37 by clicking here. In short, Spurgeon and most other treatments of Psalm 37:4 are centered around the word "delight". To know the truth of this promise is to understand what is meant by the phrase, "Delight yourself in the Lord...". In The Treasury of David this concept is reduced to a couple of sentences.
Make Jehovah the joy and rejoicing of thy spirit. Bad men delight in carnal objects; do
not envy them if they are allowed to take their fill in such vain idols; look thou to thy
better delight, and fill thyself to the full with thy more sublime portion. In a certain sense
imitate the wicked; they delight in their portion—take care to delight in yours, and so far
from envying you will pity them. There is no room for fretting if we remember that God is
ours, but there is every incentive to sacred enjoyment of the most elevated and ecstatic
kind. Every name, attribute, word, or deed of Jehovah, should be delightful to us, and in
meditating thereon our soul should be as glad as is the epicure who feeds delicately with
a profound relish for his dainties.
In the context of the entire Psalm, we are told not to fret about the things of this life or envy those who have attained them by delighting in the material blessings of life at any cost. Our delight is in the Lord.
The meaning of delighting in the Lord is explained in greater detail. It is the totality of several other biblical precepts identified in the Psalm---
1. Trust in the Lord (v.3).
2. Commit your way to the Lord (v.5).
3. Rest in the Lord (v.7).
4. Cease from anger and forsake wrath (v.8).
5. The Lord knows the the days of the upright (v. 18).
6. The blessed of the Lord shall inherit the earth (v.22).
7. The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord (v. 23).
8. The mouth of the righteous speak wisdom (v.30).
9. The law of the Lord is in the heart of the righteous (v. 31).
10. Wait on the Lord (v. 34).
11. The salvation of the righteous is of the Lord (v. 39).
12. The Lord will help his chosen people (v. 40).
These biblical ideals should be the wish list for those who want to delight in the Lord. It's what I want for Christmas this year, the discipline to trust him in all things, to be committed to his way, and to refrain from fretting over the commercial goodies that we so often think will bring us what we need to make us happy and fulfilled.
As a sidebar, there is also the wish that a mere human like me can trust his promises as he intended them. Today I am reminded of what the Apostle Paul wrote to the believers at Thessaloniki---
He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.
1 Thessalonians 5:24, ESV
To believe him and to delight in him is all I want for Christmas.