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August 2022 GPS

 A few weeks ago our Wednesday night Bible study was in Psalm 37 and one verse of that Psalm reads: “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4, ESV) That verse so captivated my mind that I decided to give it more thought. It occurred to me that the promise in the second half of the verse was amazing. It promises that the LORD will give the desires of the heart to the person who delights in Him. So, I began to think about the concept of delighting in the LORD. What does it mean to “delight yourself in” the LORD as opposed to loving Him or worshipping Him? To get the meaning of “delight oneself in,” I looked at some of the uses of the Hebrew word here translated to “delight.” It is found a second time in the same Psalm: “In just a little while, the wicked will be no more; though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there. But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace.” (Psalm 37:10–11, ESV) Throughout this Psalm the writer is comparing the present and future of the godly versus the ungodly. In verse 11, he tells us about some blessings that await the meek (the godly). They will inherit the land and “delight themselves in abundant peace” (Hebrew shalom). I take that to mean that they will be able to find great pleasure and joy in the shalom that will be theirs. Shalom does not mean only the absence of conflict but also the presence of all kinds of good things. So, the Psalmist is promising God’s people that the time will come when they will be able to enjoy, find pleasure in, delight in the blessings God will provide. Furthermore, he describes the future shalom as being “abundant.” There will be lots of it. 

The word is also found in the wonderful invitation the LORD extended to His people to repent and return to Him in Isaiah. There we read, ““Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David.” (Isaiah 55:1–3, ESV) In this beautiful portrayal of the blessings of forgiveness and cleansing and restoration, the LORD invites His people to return to Him and find pleasure and joy in a loving relationship with Him. In all of these and similar passages the idea seems to be that the person in view is said to find personal enjoyment or pleasure in someone or something. To delight myself in the LORD then means that I find personal enjoyment or pleasure in Him.  

In order for one to delight in another person, two conditions must be met. First, that other person must have qualities that merit being admired. Who would want to delight in a despicable, brutal fiend? However, the LORD is “altogether lovely,” so He is completely worthy of being the object of delight. That condition has always existed because of who God is. Second, the observer would need to have the ability to appreciate the positive qualities of the one he is considering. How could a deaf person appreciate the musical ability of even the finest violinist in the world? God can enable His people to appreciate His loveliness. David wrote, “One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.” (Psalm 27:4, ESV) David was able to appreciate, at least to some degree, the beauty of the LORD. We can too. It is no wonder that the Psalmist wrote, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11, ESV)  

That being the case, how can we go about delighting in Him? A verse that came to mind as I considered that question was, “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!” (Psalm 34:8, ESV) For many years I had never tasted pizza. I didn’t like the looks of it or the smell of it. Then, one day, on a date with the girl who became my wife, I was socially forced to try it. (Everyone else in that group ate it and enjoyed it.) I tried not to taste it by drinking a lot of soda with each bite. Today I love pizza! I might even say, “I delight myself in pizza.” I find personal enjoyment or pleasure in various things. One thing is the beauty of the natural world that God has created, especially the mountains. Another is in watching people I love do well. Another is by discovering truth in God’s Word. Another is by observing God’s kindnesses to me and those I love. Perhaps a wise thing to request in prayer would be to ask God to move in our hearts in such a way that we taste and see that the LORD is good and so delight ourselves in Him. 

What is the meaning of the promise that concludes this verse which says, “He will give you the desires of your heart”? Is that a promise of an easy life, great wealth, a successful career, or a problem free marriage? Seen in its context of the first half of the verse, that cannot possibly be true. What it does promise is that if we delight ourselves in the LORD, if we discover that we can find in Him alone the satisfaction of our deepest longings for joy, pleasure, meaning and purpose, He will satisfy those desires  of our hearts by showing us more and more of His character.