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Biblical, battle-tested, real-life help for "living by faith in the Son of God" (Galatians 2:20). — Steve Fuller

Delight Yourself in the Lord and He Will Give You the Desires of Your Heart

HeartsThe Desires of Your Heart

Our hearts are always full of desires.

Whether it’s desire for food, or friends, or God, or sex – at every waking moment we are always desiring something.

Which is why the promise of Psalm 37:4 captures our attention –

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

Powerful promise.  But what does it mean?

Some think it means that if I delight in God, then he will give me whatever else I desire, whether it be a job or health or a new car.

But there are a couple reasons I don’t think that’s what this promise means.

What Happens When We Delight in the Lord?

One reason is because of what happens when we delight in the Lord.

Think of a time when you delighted in something — maybe a sunset.  While you delighted in the sunset, were you desiring food?  Or new shoes?  Or fame?  No.

As you delighted in the sunset, what you desired was the sunset.  You wanted to keep enjoying the beauty of the sunset.

Later on you might have other desires, but at the moment that you delight in the sunset, what you desire is the enjoyment of the sunset.

In the same way, when we delight in the Lord what we desire is the Lord — to keep beholding his glory, worshiping his majesty, seeing his beauty.

So when we delight in the Lord, the desires that we have in our hearts are desires for the Lord.  So what Psalm 37:5 means is that if we delight in the Lord, he will satisfy our desires for him, by giving us more joy in him.

Does God Give Believers Everything We Desire?

Another reason is because in the Bible God does not give believers everything they desire.

Take Job, for example.  Job was the most righteous man in the world (Job 1:8), which meant he delighted in the Lord.  And surely Job desired that God would immediately heal the boils on his body.  But God did not give Job this desire of his heart (Job 2:8).

Think also of David.  David delighted in the Lord.  And David desired to build a temple to the Lord.  But God did not give David this desire of his heart (1 Chronicles 17:1-4).

Or take Paul.  Paul also delighted in the Lord.  And Paul desired that God remove his thorn in the flesh.  But God did not give Paul this desire of his heart (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

So the Bible does not show God fulfilling all the desires of everyone who delights in him.  But the Bible does show that if we delight in the Lord, then he will fully satisfy us in himself (Psalm 73:25-26).

What Do We Learn from the Rest of Psalm 37?

I read through the rest of this psalm, to see if there were other promises that might help us understand what it means for God to give us the desires of our heart.

I was surprised to discover one promise that was repeated five times in this Psalm.  It’s the promise that the righteous who meekly wait for the Lord will be blessed by God with the gift of the Land (Psalm 37:9; Psalm 37:11; Psalm 37:22; Psalm 37:29; Psalm 37:34).

So what was this gift of the Land?  I assumed it was the earthly Land of Israel.

But then I remembered that the Land Abraham was looking forward to receiving was “a better country, that is, a heavenly one,” which is “the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:16,10).

This deserves further study.  But it makes me think that Psalm 37’s promise of the Land is not just about the earthly land of Israel, but also has something to do with enjoying God forever.

If so, then the promise of the Land is another way of describing God’s promise to give us the desires of our hearts by satisfying us in himself.

Satisfied Hearts

That’s what God promises us in Psalm 37:4 — satisfied hearts.

God promises that if we delight ourselves in him, his glory and beauty and love and majesty will so fill us that we will desire nothing else.  Our hearts will be completely full.  We will be perfectly content.  He will have satisfied every desire of our hearts — in himself.

And Psalm 37:4 teaches that God will do this for everyone who delights himself in the Lord.

Which raises one last question –

How Do We Delight Ourselves in the Lord?

This is not something we can simply choose to experience.  Because of our remaining sin we need the Spirit’s work to see and feel God’s glory in Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18; 2 Corinthians 4:6).

So this is not ultimately under our control.  It is a sovereign, gracious, and blood-bought gift from God.

But there are steps we can take through which God promises to give us this gift.

First, confess sin.  Sin grieves the Spirit, diminishing his work (Ephesians 4:30).  So turn to Christ, and confess to him all known sin.

Second, trust Christ.  God provides the work of the Spirit through faith (Galatians 3:5).  So look to Christ’s mercy, by faith alone.   Turn from everything else to trust him to change your heart so you see and feel him as your all-satisfying treasure.

Third, pray for the Spirit’s work.  Jesus promised that the Father will increase the work of the spirit on everyone who asks (Luke 11:13).  So pray – earnestly.

Fourth, meditate on God’s word.  The Spirit softens our hearts, and reveals Christ, through his word (Ephesians 6:17).  So find passages displaying God’s glory in Christ, and read them slowly, thoughtfully, and prayerfully.

Fifth, humbly and persistently wait on the Lord.  He promises that as we come to him in faith, he will satisfy our hearts by pouring out his Spirit and revealing Christ to us (John 6:35; John 7:37-39; Galatians 3:5; 2 Corinthians 3:18).  So trust his promise, and persist in seeking him.

He will be faithful.  He will pour out his Spirit’s work so you once again can see and feel the glory of Jesus Christ.

And when you do, you will find yourself delighting in the Lord – so satisfied in him that you desire nothing else.

Just writing those words helps me see how much I need him.  So — enough on this blog post.  Time to seek the Lord.

Questions?  Comments?

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Category: God's Promises, How to Be Content


28 Responses

  1. K says:

    “Second, trust Christ. God provides the work of the Spirit through faith (Galatians 3:5). So look to Christ’s mercy, by faith alone. Turn from everything else to trust him to change your heart so you see and feel him as your all-satisfying treasure.” Steve, I know I’ve asked this before, but can you help me again with this step? My mind says I’m unwilling and unable to trust Christ; I don’t want that to be the case! how do I trust Him so I can receive the work of the Spirit that I so desire?

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Good question, Kathryn.

      First of all, you have every reason to trust Christ, and no reason not to trust him.

      So the fact that we often struggle to trust him Is not because of any flaws in him, but because of pride in spiritual blindness in us.

      So I would pray and confess my pride unbelief, and asked God to forgive me through Jesus. Then I would ask for the help of the Holy Spirit to strengthen my faith. Then I would pray over God’s word, because faith comes from hearing the word of Christ (Romans 10:17). And I would turn my heart to Christ and trust him.

      I would repeat this process until my faith started to grow, and I started to see and feel Jesus Christ as my all satisfying treasure.

      I am praying for you.

      Steve Fuller

  2. K says:

    I want to surrender. Of course I feel trapped in pride and like I don’t *really* want to. But I do. Today. Please pray He will help me. The wages of sin is death. He is God. Will you pray He will help me digest that? Will you pray he will help me digest my need? Even if I feel wrongly still, that he will help me accept that truth is truth and never turn from it? That He will not let me go? How do I practically DO this when I seem trapped in my pride? Do I go to the word and read the truth over and over and ask God to break me and show me that trusting him is better than pride? Or is that still refusing to surrender? I don’t want to go another day without being safely in Christ and led by his Spirit, yet I feel so much further than I’ve been before. Help!

    • Steve Fuller says:

      It’s encouraging that, although in some senses you don’t want to surrender, deep down inside you really do.

      I would definitely pray and ask the father to strengthen your faith and free you from pride and unbelief.

      So I would pray, and ask for God to strengthen your faith, but then I would do everything in my power to turn to Jesus and trust him – to forgive me, to change me, to satisfy in himself.

      That’s what I would focus on.

      But as I hear you describe your pride, I wonder if you might gain some benefit by praying over Scriptures showing how you have no reason for pride, And how, because of your sinfulness, God in his perfect justice is every reason to punish you, but how God in his breathtaking mercy offers you salvation in Christ.

      Scriptures I find helpful are Jeremiah 2:12-13; 1 Corinthians 4:7; Romans 1:18-25; Ephesians 2:1-10.

      I am wondering if there’s some lies you might be believing that get in the way of heart humility and true humble repentance before God.

      Maybe praying over the above Scriptures will help destroy those lies you can more clearly see and feel the truth.

      I will continue praying.

      In Christ,

      Steve Fuller

    • Dr Queenethe Godwin says:

      Our God is a God of second chances, his arms are open wide 2 accept any1 dt is truly repentant, God loves u…u are his creation he loves u wit all of his heart jess surrender totally and let God Almighty do his part

  3. K says:

    Can I pray and expect God to answer, “please help me see my sin as sin and confess it and hate it and turn to you in trust. Help me do it today! Help me desire your salvation and yourself. Please do it now! I feel like I cannot trust you because my mind tells me I’m too prideful/don’t desire to enough. Please come and change that in me! Please help me have the faith I need so you can work in me!” what if I pray that and don’t feel any faith or right desires? Just keep praying it? Please let me know

  4. K says:

    “I am wondering if there’s some lies you might be believing that get in the way of heart humility and true humble repentance before God.”

    Yes, I know there are! And the worst part is my mind says, “you want lies because you’re too prideful to see that no one deserves salvation!” I don’t WANT to want lies, I feel fear though that I’ve let them so prey on my mind that the truth will make me angry instead of humble! But the truth is my only hope, so do you still just recommend the same course of action and you will continue praying for help and humility?

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Yes, I would recommend the same course of action. And I will keep praying.

      Even though it’s our pride that causes us to believe lies, it’s still the truth of God’s word that God will use to crush that pride and reveal to us the truth.

      So read over passages like Romans 1:18-25 to see clearly why everyone deserves God’s wrath — pray over this passage, think deeply over this passage. Just like Jesus said you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free (John 8:31-32).

  5. K says:

    Thank you so much for the continued prayers. Also, please pray protection from the terrible accusations my mind will make against me as I try to seek truth.

  6. K says:

    “if you want to be saved, and will look to him and trust him to save you, he will.”
    Please pray God will give me this desire and faith everyday, even over all the things my mind says. Is that futile for you to pray for me to have desire, or will God do even that?

  7. K says:

    Steve, what if I’m twisted like my mind says? Is there a way for the word to change me to be a lover of righteousness?

    • Paul Walton says:

      Read Romans 3:10-18 very slowly, understanding that is our condition, then contemplate what we deserve from God. The gospel declares that totally undeserving sinful people can receive complete forgiveness & not only that, but receive Christ’s total Righteousness in return for the cost of Zero input from our side.

      To paint a word picture we are a still-born fetus covered with our own blood lying in the dirt that has been discarded. But God in His mercy picks us up breaths Life into us, cleans us up, & gives us a choice spot at His table as His own chid. If you still feel you are too proud to be humbled by His Grace, then beg Him to show you the REAL you.

  8. K says:

    Thank you Paul. Will you beg with me that as I see the real me I will hate sin and delight in his gift? That’s why I feel so confused; I feel like I’ve seen the real me, yet my heart still feels so wrongly! That I will see that sin is MY fault and blame nothing on The Lord and see his gift as beautiful. That I will see beauty rightly! Is that down thing He can DO in me? If so, please pray He will.

  9. K says:

    Something* He can do in me

    • Paul Walton says:

      I will pray. Myself I don’t often “feel” anything in my emotions concerning my faith. I don’t trust my “feelings” or emotions when it comes to my faith, because, like Paul who says in Romans 7 that in himself ” in his flesh” he knows no good thing dwells there.

      The fight of faith takes place in our inner man, or soul, or ‘ego’ or whatever we label it, we battle against our flesh or ‘sinful nature’ & on this side of heaven we will fight, battle, war until we leave this earth suit behind. Our assurance is in God’s word, Phil.1:6 tells us that Christ has begun this good work in our hearts & He will see to it that we will make it to heaven, not by our strength, but by His.

      This is the Gospel, that Christ came into this world to save worthless sinners, we fall at his feet in the dust, with nothing to offer, but with everything to gain

  10. Bambi says:

    you are right!!!! I guess thats what I have been doing wrong? Ive been Putting all my mind and heart on This person I believe I love! an working on it an worrying is he doing this that whats he doing when I should put my mind and heart on The one man Who I can deeply Depend on Not leaving me an thats the lord. Maybe Hopfully on what you are saying is that if I put my mind an heart more on the lord an not on the guy Maybe The fights an negative will stop Right!?!? This is good Advice For A REALY GOOD TIME!. Follow your heart

  11. Jessica says:

    Does God still delight in giving us our desires for example a husband or wife and children or financial breakthrough. If He is supposed to be the desire of our heart what about these other desires? Can we trust that He will bring these hopes to pass too?

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Great question, Jessica.

      I think there are times when God does delight to give us specific gifts — and it’s because those gifts will ultimately bring us even more delight in him.

      But I don’t think that’s the meaning of Psalm 37:4. I think Psalm 37:4 is referring to our general heart-desires for joy and satisfaction, which God will always give us — in himself.

      In Christ,

      Steve Fuller

  12. keijo leppioja says:

    God is good and our delight are to be taked in to grace with Christ and be new creatore with hevenly realm wiht us in to take care self too our own life to reading the bible and joy with the friends of God in wonderful mercy over us in strong love of God,thanks and bless,keijo sweden

  13. Kathy says:

    Really helpful – I wanted to know how to go about ‘delighting myself in the Lord…’
    This definitely has given me some thought that I will put into practice.

  14. jenny says:

    Really good in helping me to delight in the Lord especially the five points on how to.

  15. Muriel Johnson says:

    This has been such a blessing and has really helped me in my study of Psalm 37:4

  16. What is righteousness? says:

    What is righteousness, and how doI attain it?

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Crucial question — thanks for asking it.

      Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him for righteousness — Genesis 15:6. So the way we are counted as righteous before God is by faith alone in Christ alone.

      The moment we trust Christ as our Savior, Lord, and Treasure we are forgiven all our sins and clothed with his perfect righteousness.

      That doesn’t mean we become perfectly righteous; we will still have sin in us until heaven.

      But it means that we are covered with Christ’s perfect righteousness, and God responds to us as if we ourselves were perfectly righteous.

      At the same time, as we continue to trust all that God promises to be to us in Christ Jesus, we will grow in actual righteousness, obeying Christ and walking in love.

      I hope that helps.

      In Christ,

      Steve Fuller

  17. Ruthie says:

    What a blessing this post was to me today. I’m glad God led me to it, as I need to delight in His Word even more than I do. Thank you for using your gift of instruction!
    Christ is my life, as Col. 3 confirms; He became so because ‘I’ died when I believed and was covered by Him in baptism. I no longer long for what the world longs for ambition-wise. Instead, I wait on His direction for my next steps… and He doesn’t fail to direct when I listen quietly.

  18. Maggie says:

    I had revelation many years ago that this verse meant something much different than many viewed it to mean. When we delight ourself in the Lord (as we are created by Him and for Him), He will place in our hearts the desires He would have us have, thus giving us the desires of our hearts. Those desires are not self seeking nor to gratify ourself, but to gratify Him. As many good fathers experience gratification in being a gift giver to his children, the same can be said of our Heavenly Father. While the primary desires that are placed in our hearts are of being satisfied and fulfilled in Him, I believe he also places desires in our heart that has good benefits here on earth because it delights Him to do so. Blessings to you all. God Bless!

  19. Deb says:

    Thank you, Steve. I came across your blog when searching for meaning on this verse. It actually blows me away to see things from this perspective. My sin in in the past is to use God as a rabbit’s foot, for good luck. Your interpretation rings truth to my soul. It’s timely truth that I need. I’m facing trials and wanting out of it, but I see that I need to stop and mediate on Him- fill my empty heart with joy in Him.

    Thank you for your blog and sharing your gift of teaching and instruction.

    Love in Christ,

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