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  • David Mathis

He Wants You Happy (Psalm 37:[1-2] 3-4)

[Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers! ²For they will soon fade like the grass and wither like the green herb.] ³Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. ⁴Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. —Psalm 37:[1-2] 3–4

This is almost too good to be true: God wants us to be happy.

He tells us to delight. He enjoys that we enjoy. He truly desires that our truest desires be truly satisfied—in Him. “Delight yourself in the Lord,” He says through the psalmist.

As much as our sinful hearts can find it convenient to make Him out to be a God of mere duty, or the cosmic kill-joy, the Bible stands ready to shake those false notions again and again. Psalm 37:4 is no isolated call to delight.

The Importance of Delight

Throughout the Scriptures, God commands our rejoicing. For instance, in Philippians 3:1, he instructs the church through the apostle Paul to “Rejoice in the Lord.” And in case we missed it there, he says it twice more in the very next chapter, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.” (Philippians 4:4).

Or take Christian leaders—whether pastors or parents or deacons or teachers. God says of their keeping watch over your souls, “Let them do this with joy and not with groaning” (Hebrews 13:17). He wants leaders to delight, to enjoy their work, to be happy in Him, because, after all, at the heart of their ministry is leading others into joy in God—as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 1:24, “We work with you for your joy.”

God wants our souls to thirst for Him, and to be satisfied. The psalmist says, "As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God" (Psalm 42:1–2). He wants us to seek Him and be satisfied in what we find. "O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you" (Psalm 63:1). He is a God of delight. He wants us to yearn for Him, ache for Him, hunger for Him, and to have our soul’s deepest cravings satisfied in him.

Having the Desires of Our Hearts

And Psalm 37:4 makes this amazing promise to those who delight in the Lord: “He will give you the desires of your heart.” This does not mean that if we delight ourselves in Him, then he will give us all the sinful desires we had before we delighted in Him. First of all, we can’t make ourselves truly delight in Him. He must first change our sinful hearts by His Spirit if we are to delight in Him. He must give us a new capacity for a new kind of delight.

Call it regeneration, the new birth, or being a new creation, God first takes out our hard, sinful hearts and gives us a new heart that can delight in Him. If you delight in God, that’s a gift. It’s the fingerprint of the Holy Spirit in your life. It’s evidence of a new creation.

If verse 4 doesn't mean that we will get the sinful desires of our old hearts, then what does it mean that God will give us the desires of our hearts? God gives us a new set of desires when He gives us a new heart. It takes a new heart to delight in God, and that new heart increasingly desires the kind of things that God desires and promises to satisfy in the end. God remains our greatest treasure and greatest delight, and does so, in part, by fulfilling a host of good desires in our new heart.

It’s Only a Matter of Time

If you’re wrestling right now over some particular unfulfilled desire—a desire that sure seems like a good God-given desire, a desire from your new-born heart (so it seems), not a sinful one—remember this, and take heart: It’s only a matter of time until He fulfills every desire that comes from your new heart. No, he does not promise to fulfill the warped desires of the old heart, but He will—in this life or the next—make good on every desire that comes from your new born-again heart.

So delight yourself in God, and in particular in his Son, Jesus, who died for you and rose again to be your eternal and greatest delight. As you position your soul to delight in him, know that it’s only a matter of time until He fulfills all your other new-heart desires to deepen and enrich and expand your everlasting joy in Him.


For Reflection

  1. What are other passages of Scripture that show God commanding our joy?

  2. What will come of our God-given desires that remain unfulfilled?


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