As summer blended into autumn in 2002, a deep satisfaction nestled in my heart. The contentment felt good, as if a great symphony had reached its climactic note, and now the soft music took over to complete the movement. At last, God had given me every “desire of my heart,” capping it off with the blessing of marriage! Now, I told Him, He could take me to heaven whenever He deemed fit.
He’d given me two nieces, the opportunity to live in Wales with other Christians, a dream day in Oxford, England that I had imagined in college nine years earlier, twelve wonderful years on staff with Love In Action…and now, a miraculous marriage to the man of my dreams!
Not yet 50, I found myself wondering why He had satisfied all my desires when I was still relatively young. Now what would I look forward to doing? To accomplishing? To possessing? Certainly, I praised Him, enjoying life with my new husband! This marriage was everything I’d imagined it would be, only infinitely better, and I basked in John’s amazing love for me (as I’m still basking 14 years later). But in my overflow of joy and gratitude, I wondered why God had given me everything so soon, and what purpose my life could possibly have now that He had brought me to this pinnacle?
Can you see the selfishness in this thinking? As if my happiness was the ultimate purpose of my life! For all my talk of living for the Lord, my secret heart showed that I really believed it was all about fulfilling my dreams. “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4).
I missed the context of Psalm 37:4 in my excitement and gratitude over being married, obviously. David wrote this psalm to those who feel dismay over the apparent success of wickedness. His intended readers long, not for temporal blessings such as marriage, three months in Wales or nieces (as wonderful as those blessings are), but for God’s righteousness to prevail. They yearn for His will, wanting nothing less than Him to be honored and glorified. While my marriage, I hope, does bring honor and glory to the Lord, Psalm 37 is less about God fulfilling my personal desires, and more about me desiring His kingdom and His righteousness…for His sake.
Let’s look at Psalm 37:4 in its immediate context.
Fret not yourself because of evildoers;
be not envious of wrongdoers!
2 For they will soon fade like the grass
and wither like the green herb.
3 Trust in the Lord, and do good;
dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
4 Delight yourself in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
5 Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him, and he will act.
6 He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,
and your justice as the noonday.
7 Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;
fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way,
over the man who carries out evil devices!
8 Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath!
Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.
9 For the evildoers shall be cut off,
but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land.
10 In just a little while, the wicked will be no more;
though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there.
11 But the meek shall inherit the land
and delight themselves in abundant peace. ~~Psalm 37:1-11 (ESV)
As you can see, David’s focus regards those who saw ungodliness mounting up around them and wondered if righteousness would ever return to Israel. It applies, not to the personal desires of individuals, but to the desire for God’s rule to be established and for an end to wickedness. 21st Century believers can draw comfort from this passage as we watch our culture brazenly defy God’s Law with its insistence that Christians approve of their sinful choices.
The desire of a Christian’s heart, ultimately, has more to do with longing for the Lord Jesus Christ to come in power, and to see Him on His throne, reigning in righteousness. We earnestly desire to be totally free from our own sinful tendencies, and to see creation completely restored from the effects of the Fall.
Don’t misunderstand me: I’m deeply grateful that the Lord has blessed me so generously in this present life. I’ve deserved none of these blessings, and I wonder why He has treated me with such kindness. But let me not cheapen Psalm 37:4 into living in Wales, being an auntie or even marriage to John. As marvelous as those things are, they could never compare to the joy I’ll experience when Jesus at last takes His rightful place as King of kings and Lord of lords. That is the desire of my heart!