The desires of our heart....always a sensitive subject. Especially when we long for something; when we want it so badly for ourselves or for others; when we have a long-time dream that we don't want to give up. The first verse people go to is Psalm 37:4~ "Delight yourselves in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart." Many people use this to say, "See! If I love God, He will give me what I want." Some people see that this is not what God is saying, and they have said what it really means is that if we love God, obey Him, seek Him, He Himself will put HIS desires in our heart....He will give us the desires of our heart. I think that is true. But, every time I hear this verse, I think, "There's more. I just don't know what." I've just honestly never taken the time to really look and see what God might be saying. I'm not going to tell you I have it all figured out now, but I do believe God has shown me some glimpses of things this week that this verse speaks about. His Spirit will teach us, as He promises, if we seek Him and ask Him (...a desire of our hearts?!)
The first problem is that, like many verses, we pluck the one we like out of the middle of a passage or chapter. This is verse 4. What about verses 1-3? If you back up to verse 3, there are more IFs to our THEN.
"Trust in the Lord and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord....." So, our "of course I love God", becomes, "I love God, I trust God (in all things), I do good for God, I DWELL in the land He has given me, I cultivate faithfulness, I DELIGHT in the Lord." Wow.
If we back up to verses 1 & 2, it tells us not to fret about evildoers or be envious of wrong doers. Wait. What does this have to do with God giving me the desires of my heart? As I studied the entire 37th chapter, I noticed that it switches back and forth contrasting evil doers with the righteous. The other thing that I noticed was the phrase "inherit the land". Verse 2 told us to dwell in the land, but look at this~
v.9~"But those who wait for the Lord, they will inherit the land."
v.11~ "But the humble will inherit the land"
v.22~ "For those blessed by Him will inherit the land,"
v.29~ "The righteous will inherit the land and dwell in it forever."
v.34~ "Wait for the Lord and keep His way, and He will exalt you to inherit the land;"
As I read the commentary on this chapter, it states,"The central issue addressed is: Who will 'inherit the land', i.e.live on to enjoy the blessings of the Lord in the promised land? Will the wicked....Or will the righteous, who trust in the Lord, and are humble, blameless, generous, upright and peaceable, and from whose mouth is heard the moral wisdom that reflects meditation on God's law?" ....."Those who hope in the Lord~ i.e., trustfully look to Him to bestow life and it's blessings as a gift~will inherit the land, not those who apart from God and by evil means try to take possession of it and its wealth."
The more I meditate on these verses, the more I think the "desires of our heart" have to do with inheriting our promised land, not getting the earthly things in life we want.
In her book Believing God, Beth Moore talks about our Promised Land. These are just some highlights from what she says.
God has made promises. Real Ones. Numerous ones. Promises of things like all surpassing power, productivity, peace, and joy while still occupying these jars of clay. Many of us are wandering in the wilderness with the Promised Land just on the other side of the river.
....Your promised land is the place where God's personalized promises over your life become a living reality rather than a theological theory.
1. God promised us a place of blessing for obedience. Blessing is defined by neither ease nor worldly possessions nor stock market successes. Blessing is bowing down to receive the expressions of divine favor that in the inner recesses of the human heart and mind make life worth the bother.
2. God promised us a place we could live~ not visit, but to settle and dwell in blessing.
3. God promised us a place where He brings forth a great harvest. John 15:8 gives the New Testament Promised Land parallel. "This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples." God wants to show His glory through my life to bear tremendous fruit. My personalized Promised Land is the abiding place where I get to see God keep the promise of a great harvest through my life.
4. God promised us an abiding place of great victory over our enemy. Promise of victory, not the absence of opposition. ...Much of what is worth having is proved worth fighting for.. If you're not occupying your Promised Land, Satan is.
The Israelites couldn't get to their Promised Land. We can be delivered from bondage, leave our Egypts, but never make it to our Promised Lands, left in a desolate wilderness between. Hebrews 3:19 tells us why. "So we see that they were not able to enter because of their unbelief."
As I look at Psalm 37:4 in the context of the rest of the chapter, he is telling the people to not fret because those who do evil seem to prosper, to trust in the Lord and wait on Him, and they will inherit the land. In this, he says that the Lord will give them the desires of their heart, which seems very much tied to inheriting the land.
Does the Lord care about the daily desires and longings we have? Very much. Does He put desires within our heart if we ask and trust Him in it? Yes. Does He use our talents and gifts to bring us fulfillment in our lives? Yes. But, it doesn't always look like we think it will. Matt. 6:33 says, "Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." The desires of our heart should be His kingdom and dwelling in our Promised Land. This is where "all these things" will be added to us, and where the desires of our heart will be fulfilled, even in our daily life. Even as we pursue and allow Him to direct our earthly desires and dreams. Sometimes that means giving up what our flesh desires, but in obedience and dwelling in the land, there is abundant blessing and fulfillment.