It’s a really good thing this isn’t my full-time job because I would be broke.
Yet here I am again. Psalm 37. One of the most improperly used verses of my life come from this psalm. So gird yourselves friends. I could get a lil saucey.
For actual context, this psalm is a wisdom meditation. It’s more like a proverb – not a promise. A guide for living that will increase your chances for living in the midst of God’s flourishing.
But for those of us that grew up with Bible verses plastered to t-shirts and posters in youth rooms, we got a nice little nugget from this one that, for me at least, really distorted how I viewed God and what walking through life with Him meant:
Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.Psalm 37:4 (NIV, for youth group throwback purposes)
Teenage Kayla was taught that all she had to do was take great delight in the Lord and she would get everything she ever wanted. 20 year old Kayla remembers vividly a night in her dorm room, weeping because she had just broken up with a boy for the 17th time in the midst of an on-again-off-again relationship, confused because she thought she was delighting in the Lord, yet she wasn’t getting anything she wanted. Even now I have to intentionally fight against the urge to believe that I’m just not delighting enough in the Lord and that’s why I don’t have the desires of my heart.
What so many of us miss with this psalm is, well, the rest of it.
This psalm does a beautiful job of showing us that it is better to stay loyal to the Lord – to live with loyalty that is expressed in contentment, honesty, and generosity that finds its roots in Him. And what God does with that, in His own good, perfect time, is make a clear distinction between the godless and the faithful.
The faithful must wait. Patiently.
And they will receive the desires of their heart.
And their desire will be for the Lord, not for a better job, a spouse, a [fill in the blank here].
Day by day the Lord takes care of the innocent, and they will receive an inheritance that lasts forever. They will not be disgraced in hard times; even in famine they will have more than enough.
The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.Psalm 37:18-19, 23-24
What teenage, 20 year old, and present day Kayla need to hear is that the Lord delights in her. He takes her by the hand. He walks with her in the good days, the frustrating days, the sad days, and the days that are overflowing with joy.
His love and blessing is not contingent on what she offers Him.
His love and blessing is not contingent on her delight meter on a random Wednesday.
His love and blessing is contingent on His faithfulness and love toward His people, of whom she is apart of.
The promise of God offered to His people in this psalm is that they will find shelter in Him.
And honestly, that’s the deepest desire my heart could ever long for.