Sunday, March 23, 2014

Lord, Where's My Stuff?

“Delight thyself in the Lord, and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” (Psalm 37:4)

I don’t suppose there’s anyone who has looked at that verse who didn’t wonder why God hasn’t given them the desires of their heart. All of us have had something that we wanted more than anything else and though we prayed long hours with tears streaming down our faces, it didn’t come. Where was the Lord? Why didn’t he answer? Did we somehow fail to delight ourselves in him? How does one delight himself in the Lord anyway?

If you read the rest of Psalm 37, you’ll see that even as he was writing this song, David was struggling with some of the same thoughts. Look at verses 1 and 2. Do you think he would’ve said something like that if he’d never questioned why evil people appeared to prosper, even as the just suffered at their hand? (Psalm 37:12) The saints of David’s day were facing the same problems as the saints of today.

When we begin to look at it in context, we being to realize that the promise of the desires of our heart doesn’t necessarily mean right now. We don’t have standing to go to God and say, “I’ve delighted in you, so where’s my stuff?” Though some preachers will tell you that’s exactly what you ought to do. Psalm 37:7 uses words like rest, wait, and fret not. And then Psalm 37:10 states, “yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be.”

What’s David saying? Don’t worry about all this bad stuff that’s going on because of the wicked, because the day is coming when they won’t be here, but you will. That’s not that the Lord won’t give us a partial fulfillment of this promise now, but the ultimate fulfillment will come when Jesus takes his proper place as King of all heaven and earth. The wicked will be cut off and nothing we desire will be denied us.

Of course, our desires will be much better than they are now. That’s why it is important to consider what it means to delight ourselves in the Lord. If we’re going to get a partial fulfillment now, we need to learn to delight ourselves in the Lord and we need to manage our desires. Not everything we desire is good for us.

Psalm 37:3 gives us a hint at what it means to delight ourselves in the Lord, “Trust in the Lord, and do good….” As does Psalm 37:5, “Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him….” But we can look at the rest of the Bible for help as well. When we look at the other places the word delight is used, we often see it used with the concept of obedience to God and meditating on the law of God. Obedience and trust go hand in hand. If we delight ourselves or take pleasure in someone, don’t we trust that person? Don’t we trust that if we do what they ask us to do that good things will happen?

The word delight is used once in the New Testament. Look at Romans 7:22. Here again, we see this concept of obedience to the law of God. So often, we hear people talk about our freedom in Christ and how we don’t have to follow the law. But what many of them really think is that we can ignore the law. Such is not the case. The saints delight in the law of God, even as we struggle with our fleshly desire to sin. We delight in the law of God because it is the instructions that God has given us. By delighting in the law of God, by obeying the commandments he has given us, by meditating on his word, so that we know what he has told us to do, we are delighting in the Lord. Only then can we expect any fulfillment of the promise to give us the desires of our heart.

But what you discover when you begin to obey the Lord and to meditate on his word, your desires start to change. That’s not to say that God will tell us what he’s willing to give us and our desires will be only those things. What God is willing to give us is far more than we can comprehend. Rather, as we draw closer to God, the things we shouldn’t desire will become less important to us. And the things that are left will be things that it won’t be offensive to God for us to ask for. We may not receive everything we desire, because God is still allowing evil to exist on earth, but we can be sure that the Lord desires to give us those things.