Delight Yourself in the Lord

Yes, that’s what David wrote in Psalm 37:4.

Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.

I’ve always been amazed at how often we quote this verse, and, coincidentally, how loathe we are to quote other verses from this beautiful acrostic poem of David’s. For instance, how many times have we quoted verse 8?

Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret–it leads only to evil.

Or verse 16, one of my personal favorites (it reminds me that riches are truly not counted in dollars).

Better the little that the righteous have than the wealth of many wicked.

I would say that it’s funny how drawn we are to the verse that talks about God giving us what we want rather than the verses that talk about doing what is right or being blessed in having “little,” except that it’s really not funny at all. It’s rather sad, actually.

And it’s frustrating to me personally. I write this not because I am frustrated with other Christians, but because I am frustrated with myself. How I long for God to give me all that I desire! And how I cry when He doesn’t! In some ways, I fear I am still incredibly childish. And when God doesn’t give me what I desire, my reaction is not usually, “God must have something better for me!” No, no…I usually suffer through my own tantrum before I realize that God is patiently waiting for me to remember that He has a good plan for my life–a better plan, it’s worth noting, than any I could put together.

But I’m learning. That’s the key, right?

But man. I can’t help but wonder if David knew, deep down, that self-focused, frustrated, depressed young women like me would latch onto this verse (verse 4) and want it to mean something it doesn’t. If David didn’t, God certainly did, for He compelled David’s poetic hand to clarify (or confound…it’s hard to tell which) the following verses–same chapter, verses 23-25:

If the Lord delights in a man’s way, he makes his steps firm; [24] though he stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand. [25] I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.

So how do we move from seeking our own desires to seeking that Christ would delight in us? I think the answer is right back in verse 4: Delight yourself in the Lord. When our desires fall in line behind that delight, that desire for God, then I think we are in a place where God not only delights in delighting us, but where He can begin to change any desire that is unaligned with His plan for our lives.

And oh, is that a difficult place to be if you don’t continue delighting in Him! The truth is, He may ask us to give some things up. He may change our goals, our passions. He may bring something into your life that is entirely not what you wanted or expected.

Oh, I pray that He does. I pray that He changes my desires–makes them His own. I want my life to reflect my beautiful Savior in some small way. I want to hear those words, “well done, good and faithful servant.” I want to know that deep joy and satisfaction of seeing His face in the New Jerusalem and realizing that everything–all the struggle, all the frustration, all the obstacles and challenges and changes, all the burdens–was worth it.

In the meantime, we grow. Seed by seed. Root by root. We dig in, we feed on God’s Word, we drink deep of His Spirit, we turn our faces to His Son, and we push through the dirt until He brings our desires to fruition. Suddenly, we forget that we desired anything other than His own being.

So don’t stop. The reward is near. Keep on. Push through the dirt, spread your arms, and bloom.

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12 Responses to Delight Yourself in the Lord

  1. Dave Wade says:

    Barefoot semmie,

    You asked: “So how do we move from seeking our own desires to seeking that Christ would delight in us?”

    In an OT context, the very thing Israel ignored led them to concentrate on the Law – not God’s plan.

    1Sa 15:22 And Samuel said, Does Jehovah delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of Jehovah? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice! To listen is better than the fat of rams!

    God’s prophets were regularly disregarded as their advice was contrary to human wisdom and nature. Israel was always “stiff necked.” Today, we must never be.

    This from Albert Barnes in his “Notes”

    Psa 37:4 –
    Delight thyself also in the – Lord. The word rendered “delight” means properly to live delicately and effeminately; then, to be tender or delicate; then, to live a life of ease or pleasure; then, to find delight or pleasure in anything. The meaning here is, that we should seek our happiness in God – in his being, his perfections, his friendship, his love.
    And he shall give thee the desires of thine heart – literally, the “askings,” or the “requests” of thy heart. What you really “desire” will be granted to you. That is,
    (a) the fact that you seek your happiness in him will regulate your desires, so that you will be “disposed” to ask only those things which it will be proper for him to grant; and
    (b) the fact that you do find your happiness in him will be a reason why he will grant your desires.
    The fact that a child loves his father, and finds his happiness in doing his will, will do much to regulate his own “wishes” or “desires,” and will at the same thee be a reason why the father will be disposed to comply with his requests.

    Paul gives the NT version of God’s desire for His children here in Galatians. It requires our voluntary cooperation in our daily behavior – both in thought and action. Walking in the Spirit requires an intentional effort IMHO.

    Gal 5:16 – 17 But I say, walk and live [habitually] in the [Holy] Spirit [responsive to and controlled and guided by the Spirit]; then you will certainly not gratify the cravings and desires of the flesh (of human nature without God).
    For the desires of the flesh are opposed to the [Holy] Spirit, and the [desires of the] Spirit are opposed to the flesh (godless human nature); for these are antagonistic to each other [continually withstanding and in conflict with each other], so that you are not free but are prevented from doing what you desire to do. Amplified Bible

    Therefore, the secret to pleasing God is walking in the (Holy) Spirit and listening to His urging. He always intercedes for us in accordance with God’s will ! (Romans 8:26 – 27)

    My prayer for you, dear Sister, is that you continue in seeking His will while being content in all things, for “Godliness with contentment is great gain”


    • semmie says:


      What a response! You are a Godsend. I so appreciate your thoughts and interaction with me.

      I am particularly encouraged to read this, from Barnes:
      “you will be “disposed” to ask only those things which it will be proper for him to grant”
      I have always hoped and believed this to be the case–that as we delight in God, He begins to change and form our desires into godly desires. Perhaps it is as simple as sanctification. We are saved, but God continues to make us holy–not just our actions and our lifestyle, but our desires and pursuits as well. That is good news.

      I’m chewing on the Galatians passage. I’ve always struggled with Paul. I’m a Peter gal, to be honest. 🙂 Paul leads me to think, however, that even if we live and walk in the Spirit, even if we listen to God’s voice, some of our desires WON’T change. At least…not yet. Am I mistaken about this?…that the sanctification of our desires and nature is a process that will span the entire course of our lives?

      Thanks, Dave! And God bless you.

      P.S. Do I know you from somewhere? Or did you just stumble upon my blog?

  2. Kelp says:

    That was a beautiful post, semmie. It actually applies just as well to guys like me.

  3. Dave Wade says:

    “I’ve always struggled with Paul”
    Interestingly enough, semmi, living and working in the NY metro area for 35 years has given me a thorough insight into the Hebrew mind. In Phil 3:5 Paul called himself a Hebrew of the Hebrews – a race that may be enigmatic to you. This Near Eastern mind set by God’s chosen people is proof to me that they are the toughest, most determined of all races – survivors to the last person. Imagine Paul stricken blind on the Damascus road having to be delivered of a thorn some years later due to his pride ! (BTW, an alternate translation for thorn is “tent stake !” – not a simple sliver). Consider – a short, nearsighted, ugly Jew being prideful. He even had to pray for the proper words to speak (utterance).

    “…sanctification of our desires and nature is a process…” You have it right, semmi. Paul was taught that there are two kinds of sanctification. Positional (on the Damascus road) and progressive (the rest of his life). Crucifying the flesh is the most painful of all as satan fights us each step of the way. Never forget Jesus’ saying: “But the gate to life is narrow and the way that leads to it is hard, and there are few people who find it.”

    “…some of our desires WON’T change…” Amen, semmi. Total victory is acquired only at Glory, otherwise what is the race/battle/fight for? Perhaps the most significant verses in Holy Writ are Col :21-23 “And you, who were once alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy and without blemish, and without charge in His sight, if indeed you continue in the faith grounded and settled, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which you have heard and which was proclaimed in all the creation under Heaven…” Please underline “…if indeed you continue in the faith…” – this is the goal of holiness.

    Paul explains in Eph 4:12 that “His intention was the perfecting and the full equipping of the saints…” – obviously an ongoing process we must undergo. No merit here, Sister, only a determined resolve to please Him who saved us.

    (stumbled – but there is no coincidence in Christ, semmi)

  4. semmie says:

    “Paul was taught that there are two kinds of sanctification. Positional (on the Damascus road) and progressive (the rest of his life).”

    Actually, this (above) pretty much clears up my confusion, I think! 😉

    I am incredibly thankful that God brought you here.

  5. Abby says:

    Beautiful post, semmie! Especially love the imagery of a flower pushing its roots through the ground and pushing buds above the ground and blooming.

  6. Steve Ward says:

    ” [25] I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.”

    I always think of this verse every time my kids ask for the left-over Communion bread.

    Sarah, you are not alone as to having tantrums. There are still many moments when I get into a “God, let’s talk.” frame of mind. Yet He, in His loving way, manages to set me straight.


    • semmie says:

      Isn’t it wonderful, Steve, to have such a patient and loving Father who isn’t afraid of our emotional fits? He just waits. And when we’re through, He is the One holding us and crying with us. Such a wonderful Father.

      I love you, Steve. And your kids. 🙂

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