Delight thyself also in the Lord: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.Psalm 37:4 (KJV)
For such a wonderful an important verse of the Bible, it’s a shame that it is often misunderstood and used to deliver a perverse message. The prosperity gospel, a false gospel promoted by so many teachers around the world, uses this verse to convince people that if they love the Lord and do good works, that they’ll get the desires of their heart. This is incomplete.
The desires of the heart are evil. We want money. We want things of this world. The desires of our heart are anchored by the carnal desires of the flesh. That’s not what this verse is describing. To understand it, we need to look in context.
Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity.
2 For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb.
3 Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.
4 Delight thyself also in the Lord: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.
5 Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.
6 And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday.
7 Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass.
Trust. Delight. Commit. These are instructions for us to give unto the Lord. “Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him.” In other words, we aren’t to love the Lord in order to receive the desires of our human hearts. When we give all of our trust, delight, and commitment to the Lord, the desires of our heart can change. Sadly, we can never do it fully. Our sin nature loves the world. This inability for any man to be good or righteous in the eyes of the Lord made it a requirement for Yeshua to be the only unblemished sacrificial lamb to atone for our sins and our sin nature.
The desires of our heart would be different if we were capable of embracing all that the Lord offers us, but we cannot. This brings up two questions. First, if we are incapable of doing it, why would it be instructed in the Bible? The Psalmist wasn’t stating an impossibility. He was alerting us to what could be achieved prior to the revelation that no man can achieve it. No man is righteous. No, not one. That doesn’t mean that the promise made to the righteous one doesn’t exist.
The second question that it brings to mind is that if we are incapable of fully embracing all that God wants us to embrace, why embrace any of it at all. That’s a much more complex answer, but it’s also simpler from a different perspective. We won’t go into the hard answer right now, but the easy answer is that God instructs us to do it. If He’s our Father, we must try to obey even if we are incapable of achieving it completely.
The one thing this verse does not tell us is that if we love God and we’re good people, that we’ll get the things of this world that our heart desires. Only when our hearts do not desire the things of this world will our heart’s desires be realized.