Most believers are familiar with the verse in Psalm 37:4 that says “Delight yourself in the LORD [YHVH] and He will give you the desires of your heart.” What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of this verse? Before I understood this spiritual concept completely, I thought it meant that if I worked hard enough at praising and glorifying God, He would answer all my prayers and give me everything I wanted, but later on when I became more spiritually mature I realized I was mistaken.
The first fallacy I discovered with this interpretation was that David was not talking about God satisfying our worldly desires in the verse. Looking more carefully at the Scripture, we see that he says that YHVH will give us the desires of our heart. In previous blogs we have talked about what is meant by the “heart” when used in Bible verses. It is usually used to denote our conscience, or the part of our soul that guides us in knowing and doing what is right in God’s eyes. Recall verses like Psalm 119:11, where David said that he hid YHVH’s Word in his heart so that he would not sin, and then in Proverbs 23:7, where Solomon [Sh’lomo] says “as a man thinks in his heart, so is he”.
One of my favorite passages on the importance of focusing our heart on YHVH is in Proverbs 4 in verses 20-21 where Sh’lomo shares his wisdom about YHVH’s word: ”My child, pay attention to what I say. Listen carefully to My words. Don’t lose sight of them. Let them penetrate deep into your heart”. Then in verse 22, Sh’lomo tells us how YHVH blesses us when we do this: “for they (YHVH’s words in our heart) bring life to those who find them, and healing to their whole body”. He shares his final bit of wisdom in verse 23: “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life”.
Finally, in Philippians 3:8, Paul (Sh’au)] says that “everything else in life is worthless compared to the incomparable value of knowing Messiah Yeshua my Lord”. Putting all these passages together, they tell me that if I focus my heart (the deepest inner part of my soul) on YHVH and His word, then the desires of my heart will be fulfilled in knowing Abba Father and His Son, Yeshua, at a deep intimate level that brings joy beyond anything else I can experience in this life on Earth.
So now we have covered the second half of Psalm 37:4 at a deeper level, but what exactly does the first half mean, “Delight yourself in YHVH…”? The Hebrew word used in this passage for delight is aw-nag, which is in the imperative form, so it is a command from YHVH to delight in Him. A more complete translation is: ”to be wholly dependent upon God and to derive one’s pleasure from Him”. It is true that I derive great joy from spending time with YHVH, worshiping Him and fellowshipping with Him, meditating on His word and gaining understanding of who He is and what is in His heart. However, it is also true that there are times when I desire to watch a mindless TV show or read a book that reveals its plot from the first page.
Another great concept from Scripture that helps us understand what it means to delight ourselves in YHVH comes from Isaiah 58, where YHVH says that if we honor His Sabbath (Shabbat) in everything we do (verse 13), then He will be our delight and He will give us great honor (verse 14).
How do we delight ourselves in YHVH? How do we keep our minds and hearts focused on YHVH so He is able to give us the desires of our hearts? We need to stay laser-focused on guarding our heart and mind from being consumed by the desires of this world, keeping ourselves tuned into the Holy Spirit who is able to guide us into all truth and guard our hearts from the wiles of the enemy and the distractions of the world. He will help us to stay set apart from the world, spending our most precious time in fellowship with YHVH.