Delight Yourself in the Lord

by Scott Kaczorowski

It might sound spiritually cliche, but Psalm 37:3-4 has been a passage that the Lord has brought up in my life over and over again: Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

As a young man pining for a wife, the Lord would say to me, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”  Wait on me, Scott.

When I was teaching English in Korea and a situation arose where it looked like I would want to return home, the Lord said to me, Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.”  Stay put, Scott.

(As an aside, if I had disobeyed Psalm 37:3 at that time and left Korea prematurely, then the Lord would not have fulfilled for the me the promise of Psalm 37:4–at least not in the way that He did.  Because eventually I married a Korean girl.  Another interesting aside.  I don’t know if I have ever noticed this connection until right now.  After I had determined in my heart to stay, the Lord in His graciousness worked the particular situation out in my favor anyway.  I did not have to suffer loss to stay.)

When my wife and I were contemplating moving back to Ohio after I finished seminary, I woke up one morning and felt like the Lord spoke to my heart, “dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness…” (see NASB translation).

So as you can imagine, it was significant for me that this passage played such a prominent role at the beginning of The Falling in Love Again with Your Lord for Men study.  God has been bringing up Psalm 37:4 for me quite a bit these days and in various ways.  I have found in my life over and over again that when the Lord reiterates Himself, that means He is going to do something.

Now if you have ever heard this verse preached on, the train of thought might run something like this: Yes, there is a promise here.  But this verse also intimates that God wants something.  He wants us to be delighted in Him. With promises like this, we are tempted to put the accent on “and he will give you the desires of your heart.”  But from God’s perspective, the accent really belongs on delight.  And it’s only then that our hearts are renovated in such a way as to desire what is good and pure.

This can be a helpful reminder so that we don’t get too self-focused or mistake the twisted desires of a sinful heart as something that the Lord desires to give us.

But I want to break down the perceived dichotomy between Psalm 37:4a and Psalm 37:4b for a minute.  I want to argue that eagerly trusting God for what He is going to do for us is a way of delighting in Him!  Do you feel like this is “selfish”?  Consider the “selfishness” of the following verses:

“He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life…” (Romans 2:6-7).

…set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ…” (1 Peter 1:13).

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:6-7).

Of course all these promises are about what God will do when Christ returns.  But our salvation is not entirely future.  There is present grace as well as future grace!* God gives a small foretaste now** of what will be the case when He ultimately and definitively moves His hand for His people in the return of Christ and the restoration of all things.

So I want to encourage you today to a godly “selfishness.”**  What do you want the Lord to do in your life?  What would you desire from Him?  How would you want Him to transform you?  How would you want Him to move His hand in your life so that when you see the power and the might of His grace working on your behalf your heart literally bursts forth in exultant praise: “My God is glorious!”  We now can see why this is a godly “selfishness.”  Because He satisfies us.  And that glorifies Him.  “…call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me” (Psalm 50:15).

So seek Him for it.  Trust Him when there’s not an answer right away.  (God usually makes us wait for His best gifts.)**  It might not happen in just the way or at just the time that you think it should.  After all, there is still a lot of renovation that our hearts need before we perfectly and purely desire even the good things that God has for us.  And, yes, God is sovereign in His good plan and perfect timing.

But let me point out one last observation (lest the proceeding caveats end up being an occasion for lack of faith).  At the end of the day, Psalm 37:4 is a promise. Yes, there is a context in which this happens: “Delight yourself in the Lord…” But remember, God has also promised that He will move in the hearts of believers so that they do delight in Him (see Deuteronomy 30:6; Ezekiel 36:25-28).  God does this fundamentally at salvation.** If you are following Jesus, you do delight in God (it can be no other way).***  And He will continue to work in your heart so that you delight in Him more and more.  What that means is that every true believer in Jesus Christ fulfills and will fulfill the condition of Psalm 37:4a: “Delight yourself in the Lord…”  Because God will see to it.  But this also means that every true believer in Jesus Christ will (ultimately and in God’s way) reap the promise of Psalm 37:4b:…and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

So seek after God to move powerfully in your life.  And like Jacob, who had spent the whole night wrestling with the angel of the Lord and said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me” (Genesis 32:26), don’t let go until you have a satisfaction that glorifies Him.


*Readers familiar with John Piper’s book Future Grace (Colorado Springs, CO: Multnomah, 1995) will catch the reference, as well as the influence of Pipe’s thinking throughout this post.
**I may owe this language to another writer/speaker.
***cf. the comment of Tom Schreiner: “Genuine love for God involves a willingness to follow Jesus” (in The Law and Its Fulfillment [Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 1993], 233, cf. 232).

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.