Two weeks ago, we kicked off our Rest For Your Mind & Soul series in the book of Psalm. In the first week, we discovered that silence can deafening. Last week, we were encouraged to catch our breath by resting in the green pastures and beside the calm waters of Psalm 23.
This week, I want to tackle the ever-popular verses from Psalm 37 that speak to the desires of our hearts.
It says in Psalm 37:4-5,
“Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires. Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you.”1
Where Have I Heard That Before?
Growing up, I went to Sunday school each week and heard preachers and teachers tell me that God will give me the desires of my heart if I just ask Him.
Well…I began asking (selfishly I might add). I asked him for good grades, toys, bikes, and a girlfriend, and the list began to look like Santa’s naughty and nice list.
Some items from the list were fulfilled, but not everything. I got good grades because I studied and because God’s mercy helped me out as well.
I got toys because it was my birthday or Christmas. And…girlfriends came and went, but that’s a story for a little later.
What about the real stuff…the important stuff…like finding a wife, having a family, getting the perfect job, or healing someone from an injury or illness. What about that stuff?
My heart’s desire was for God to heal them, make them like they were before their accident or their sickness. Why didn’t God answer my prayers or my heart’s desire for those things?
How do you know He didn’t answer your heart’s desire? What was your heart’s desire – for your friend or relative to be healed or for them to make an impact on those whom they came into contact with?
Oh…that changes the dynamic of the situation now, doesn’t it?
As believers, we are quick to quote the backend of the first part of Psalm 37:4 (the AA section if you prefer),
“and he will give you your heart’s desires.” — Psalm 37:4
If you want to find your significant other, pray and God will give you the desire of your heart. Your family is sick, and you want God to heal them, pray and God will give you the desire of your heart.
And then, you don’t find your other half, or your family isn’t healed, and you go back to the person who gave you this great advice and see it didn’t work.
Suddenly, your faith in God is shaken or you blow Him off altogether. Others may go further and say, what sin in your life prevented God’s miraculous work in your life or their life?
Really…that’s where you land at first glance when someone shares what didn’t happen?
I hope this hasn’t happened to you, but I can tell you from first-hand experience that my faith has been shaken at times and people have told me that sin prevented me from this or that.
I do want to make it clear that God wants us to come to Him with repentant hearts that involve us being active in turning away from sin.
It is possible that our sin is preventing us from receiving all God has planned for us, but that is why He sent His Son to die on the cross for our sins.
A common mistake we make is turning God into a cosmic vending machine. We put our heavenly dollar in and expect God to drop out our heart’s desire with little to no work on our part.
We, essentially, tell God you owe me…I told you what I wanted and you didn’t do anything for me except give me more of the same.
In order for us to understand how God answers our prayers for our true heart’s desire, let’s take a look at the preceding verses in Psalm 37.
Psalm 37 was written by David and focuses on God’s reminder to His people, the people of Israel, that those who appear to flourish today will fade away in the future, and that is why we should not worry.2
Psalm 37:1-2 opens,
“Don’t worry about the wicked or envy those who do wrong. For like grass, they soon fade away. Like spring flowers, they soon wither.”3
Much like today, the Israelites saw the evildoers all around them prospering while they were barely making it. Do you feel this way sometimes?
Do you wonder why your circumstances seem vastly different than others around you? Do you beg God for an answer only to be met with silence?
I found over the years that God answers in His timing, not because I begged or rubbed the Bible and commanded Him to answer. God is right on time, and many have quoted that “God is never late, never early.”4
So…where does that leave you. If scripture is saying that the wicked will eventually fall, and the believers will flourish, when does that flourishing begin?
Well…that’s a good question, and I’m not sure I have an answer for you, but before you turn me off, let’s look at verse three from Psalm 37.
Psalm 37:3 says,
“'Trust in the Lord and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper.”5
During the time of King David, and even before the Israelites had a problem with obedience, much like us, I would say. They wanted all the joys and benefits of obedience, but without actually being obedient.
They lacked trust, and they often didn’t do what was good. If you recall, they,
- Built a golden calf because Moses was taking too long on Mt. Sinai talking to God.
- They complained too much and missed out on the Promised Land
- They wanted a king because God didn’t fulfill their earthly needs like they thought He should
Are you more like the Israelites – wanting all the rewards but with little to no effort on your part?
Or…do you trust God to deliver on all His promises.
Or…are you somewhere in between.
If I’m completely honest, I would say somewhere in between. I trust God to deliver, but I’m frustrated when He doesn’t do it on my timetable or my perceived timetable.
So many of us fall into the same trap the Israelites did, we only see what’s right in front of us. We rarely look behind us to see how God has delivered us, shown up for us, proven He has our best in mind, and prepared us for today and our future.
This is why journaling has become part of my daily routine, even if it is to say what I am thankful for or what I struggled with today.
Commit & Be Patient
Commitment and Trust
Let’s skip over verse four for a moment. We opened by sharing Psalm 37:4 & 5.
Psalm 37:5 says,
“'Commit everything you do to the Lord . Trust him, and he will help you.”6
Oh boy…here’s where God starts working on us. In order for the desires of our hearts to be met, we have to put some skin in the game.
We have to commit, not just one thing or the one thing we want, we have to commit everything to God. And, if that’s not enough, we have to trust Him that He will help us.
What does commitment look like?
I think it’s different for each person. Commitment is doing what we say we will do. I think it’s also surrender. I have spoken about surrender or contentment before7, and God wants all of us to come to Him and lay it all at the foot of the cross.
For the people of Israel, the cross and Jesus hadn’t come yet, they were communing directly with God through prophets. David captures in this Psalm what God wants for all of us – He wants contentment, surrender, commitment, and obedience.
And when we do those things, we trust God to do His will in our lives on His timetable and not ours. You might be thinking this is a big ASK, and you are right – it is a big ask, but that’s why trust is involved.
If it were easy, we wouldn’t need God, now would we?
In Psalm 37:7-9, we find the tough part of getting to our heart’s desire on God’s time schedule. It says,
“'Be still in the presence of the Lord , and wait patiently for him to act. Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes. Stop being angry! Turn from your rage! Do not lose your temper— it only leads to harm. For the wicked will be destroyed, but those who trust in the Lord will possess the land.”8
In the first week of this series, we explored Psalm 46:10 which reminds us to be still and know that God is God.9 In the Bible this Psalm precedes that one, but we see another reminder from God to be still.
Is it hard for you to be still? Do you have to be on the go all the time even when you are sleeping?
It is only recently that I have learned to slow down and drink in the moments that are most precious to me. I spend more conscious time being still and listening for God’s whisper than I used to.
However, it’s hard, and I struggle with the second part of verse seven – wait patiently.
When I was in Hawaii recently, I discovered that I am not a patient driver in parking lots. My fiancé kindly pointed this out to me when we were jockeying for a parking space at the Dole Plantation.
One of the things we learned about pineapples, is they take 18 months to grow. In order to get the perfect pineapple, you have to prepare the soil, work the soil, plant it at the right time, water it on a schedule, and pick it at the right time.
You have to wait patiently for the pineapple to be ready.
The waiting game is tough. We want things now. If we don’t know something, we “Google it”. If want to purchase something, we find it online and get it with two-day shipping.
We think God is supposed to be like that, but God’s preparation timeline is different.
It says, “and wait patiently for him to act”10. God’s timing is perfect in love, life, work, family, relationships, etc. This is why verses eight and nine are here. He reminds us that the wicked don’t prosper in the long run, we as believers, do, but we must be patient.
Circling Back to Our Heart’s Desire
When we look at all of these verses in context, this is how our heart’s desire is realized:
- We stop worrying about things we can’t control – like people or situations.
- We trust God to provide for us.
- We commit everything to God including ourselves
- We trust God with our commitment
- We wait patiently for God to provide in His time.
You might be thinking, well…I’m not getting any younger and I want to get married. Been there. God’s timing is perfect when both hearts have been prepared; however, it also takes us realizing it and noticing it.
God can do all the preparation, but we can be too busy to see His preparation and miss out on our heart’s desire.
What about relatives that are sick from an illness or disease?
I have to admit that this one is tough. We may do all of the things above and that is our heart’s desire and will, but it may not be God’s plan. Sickness and disease are tough.
You might have relatives who are battling cancer or neurological disorders, and you beg, plead, promise, and cry out to God for healing and restoration, but nothing happens and you slowly watch your loved one fade away.
Was it because you or they had sin in your life? No.
Was it because you didn’t pray enough or hard enough? No.
Why did my heart’s desire go unanswered? Because God’s plan did not include healing this side of heaven. I don’t understand why God allows some people to skate through life or appear to skate through life, and others it seems like they are climbing Mt. Everest.
What is God teaching them? What is teaching you? Maybe He’s asking you to trust Him that He has a bigger plan in place, one that we don’t see today, but maybe revealed in the future. I just don’t know.
Our job, our role, is to keep asking God for our heart’s desire, and leave it all up to Him.
Are you willing to keep asking God for your heart’s desire even if it never gets fulfilled?
I hope so, because sometimes God surprises you, and other times He strengthens your faith through the process.
I don’t know your situation, but I am walking my own heart’s desire journey that involves a lot of surrender, commitment, and trust, and it’s not easy.
I encourage you to do the same.
Lord, our hearts are full of expectations met and unmet. Our desire is to live fully committed to you, but we stumble along the way. We need you to help us. We need you to show us how you have provided for our needs, desires, and expectations on this journey of life. I ask you to show yourself to us this week in new and tangible ways to help strengthen our faith. Thank you for your love and grace in our lives. Amen!
- Psalm 37:4-5 ↩︎
- When we look abroad we see the world full of evil-doers, that flourish and live in ease. So it was seen of old, therefore let us not marvel at the matter. We are tempted to fret at this, to think them the only happy people, and so we are prone to do like them: but this we are warned against. Outward prosperity is fading. When we look forward, with an eye of faith, we shall see no reason to envy the wicked.Matthew Henry and Thomas Scott, Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, 1997), Ps 37:1. ↩
- Psalm 37:1-2 ↩︎
- Quote by unknown ↩︎
- Psalm 37:3 ↩︎
- Psalm 37:5 ↩︎
- RCD 090: https://rockingchairdevotions.com/090RCD 094: https://rockingchairdevotions.com/094RCD 093: https://rockingchairdevotions.com/093RCD 050: https://rockingchairdevotions.com/050 ↩
- Psalm 37:7-9 ↩︎
- https://rockingchairdevotions.com/095 ↩︎
- Psalm 37:7 ↩︎
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