God’s Desires or Mine?
Psalm 37 contains a goldmine of riches as David expounds on the contrast between the inheritance of the righteous and the tragedy of the wicked; the sharp disparity between lives brightened by light or those snuffed out by darkness. David delivers several injunctions—including, “trust in the Lord,” “do good,” “delight … in the Lord,” “commit … to the Lord” and “rest in the Lord”—urging us to plug into Father God … to ensure our lives revolve around Him as our Divine Centre … to allow God’s desires to become ours.
David’s statement in verses 4 and 5 has always intrigued me. He writes:
“Delight yourself in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass”
Wow! What a wonderful passage … loaded with promise and weighty instruction. However, it is a passage often misunderstood.
It is perhaps easy to (incorrectly) conclude from verse 4 that if I “delight” myself in the Lord (whatever this may mean), He is obliged to give me the desires of my heart. And, according to verse 5, if I “commit” this to God (again, whatever this may mean), He is then obligated to fulfil my desires. Yes? If I manipulate the formula, I get what I want? Delight + Commit = Jackpot?
Stated that way; of course, the answer is an emphatic, No!
Yet even as a young believer I found it difficult to believe, having heard more than a few messages implying—mostly unintentional, a few blatantly—that God is obliged to give me whatever I desired as long as I found whatever it was that “primed His pump,” so to speak. In contrast, from the weight of Scripture as I read it, I could only conclude that I existed to serve His desires and fulfil His pleasure—not the other way around.
Upon closer study of these two verses, beyond the merely cosmetic attention given to them, clarity came. First, the word “delight” (v. 4) means “to be soft and pliable.” The word picture here refers to “clay in a potter’s hand.” David is urging us to be responsive and malleable in God’s hand; in a word, surrendered.
A surrendered heart brings great delight to God—in fact, God declares that He makes His abode with those who are surrendered in heart (see Psalm 34:18; Isaiah 57:15; 66:1, 2).
Second, the word “give” in the phrase “He shall give you the desires of your heart” (v. 5) means “birth or originate”—not fulfil and endorse. As we’re soft and pliable in His hands, He will birth in us His desires; He will plant in us the passions of His heart. How did Paul put it? “God works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13).
Thirdly, the word “commit” in “commit your way” (v. 5) means, “to roll the responsibility off onto” and refers to our willingness to hold these God-given passions and visions lightly—not loosely (for we’re to steward them responsibly) and not tightly (for they are first and foremost His, not ours). On “that Day,” we will give an account to Him for them. On this day, and every day, we’re to nurture them in submission to Him.
Inviting God to impregnate us with His desires, offering them back to Him in love, active trust then provides the faith-context—“trust also in Him” (v. 5)—in which God will “bring [them] to pass” (v. 5). For He alone is able to perfect that which concerns us (Psalm 138:8); “He who begun a good work in us will complete it” (Philippians 1:6).
What I initiate in my own want and will, I’ll have to continue in my own diminishing strength until I fall apart … or repent.
What He initiates, He will continue and complete. My role is simply to, in rest and freedom (v. 7), cooperate fully with Him.
Then a wonderful thing happens. One with Him, God’s desires become mine!