Part of my daily morning worship routine is to pick a few memory verse cards to review. Often I just check that I still have them memorized, but often I'll run into a verse that I'd like to contemplate, either because it has an application to something in my life at the time, or I just don't understand it. Today the first verse I picked up was Psalm 37:4--
"Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart." (NIV)
The KJV adds the word "also" between "thyself" and "in the Lord;" a few other versions replace "delight yourself" with "take delight," but otherwise, they are pretty much all in agreement. The context of the verse has some equally beautiful passages: "Rest in the Lord, wait patiently for him" (vs. 7), "Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring [it] to pass" (vs. 5), and so on. A very comforting psalm.
Too comforting. Being a human, I have had the experience of dealing with desired things. So the automatic reaction to this verse was, "yeah, maybe..." That reaction forced me to stop and take the rest of my worship time to really think this verse through. As a Christian, my struggle is with faith. Faith does not always come easily. Faith, to me, is saying, "OK, Lord, of course you're right!" when I really want to say "well, maybe..." or "but to me, it looks like..." This requires study, and that's what the Bible is for, as well as the shared experiences of other people.
So I thought about what this verse says. It says, "Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart." No versions I saw anywhere said,
"Delight yourself in the Lord, and he might give you the desires of your heart, if you're lucky."
"Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart, sometime in the indefinite future, but don't count on it in this life, anyway."
"Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart, if those desires happen to be the right ones."
"Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart, if you're good enough, and eat your vegetables."
So what does this verse mean? And what can I desire that he will give me? I desire an Audi TT, a ten-acre estate in the country, a position in the LA Philharmonic, and the man of my dreams to fall desperately in love with me.
This leads to a natural human conclusion. When a human looks at this verse, the eye is naturally drawn to the last half of the phrase, the "he will give you the desires" part. (Really, confess!) But the first half is the important part. "Delight yourself in the Lord." Look at the words "delight" vs. "desire." Which has heavenly associations, and which has earthly ones?
Here's my conclusion, for 7:52 AM on an Friday morning: Our priority should be for the first half of the phrase. Occupy yourself with the "delight." Make it a lifelong project to figure out what it means to "delight in the Lord," and chances are pretty good you won't have so much leftover time or brainpower to bother with the "desires of your heart" part.