The prescription for your soul – take verses as much as needed.
Psalm 37:4-7 Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness; Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and he shall bring it to pass. He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice like the noonday. Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him. Do not fret because of Him who prospers in his way.
These verses have been resonating with me lately. Specifically the one in bold above. Verse 4 keeps coming up in different facets of my life. I might walk into a bookstore and see the verse or it might pop up on my facebook wall or a friend might reference it. When a verse or verses keep showing their faces to me in my daily life I tend to think of it as a sign. It usually prompts me to dig deeper into the verse(s) to see what God has to say.
When I decided to dig deeper into this passage I was richly blessed. I wanted to share with you what came from that Bible study.
When reading verse 4 my eyes seemed to stop on the word delight. I decided to look that word up in my Strong’s Concordance. After all, I love word studies because of the deeper meaning and understanding that comes from learning the meanings of the word.
Honestly, when I hear the word delight it makes me think of pleasure or thinking something good. When I looked it up in my concordance and found out the Hebrew meaning of delight, this passage took on a whole new meaning for me.
Delight in Hebrew (in which it was used in the original manuscripts) is עָנַג, anog, (aw-nag’) and it means to be soft and pliable, luxurious, & delicate. The words soft and pliable really stood out to me. What I once thought meant I had to show “pleasure” to the Lord with good thoughts then I would get the desires of my heart, changed into understanding I had to be delicately, soft and pliable before the Lord and I would be given the desires of my heart. Delight meant something deeper than I originally thought.
Once I had a new understanding of the word delight, then I noticed the word also. Also implies in addition to or along with. This word triggered me to read the verses before and after verse 4 to get the context. The use of this conjunction also, changed my whole understanding of this passage.
Should we just shallowly show pleasure (in thought) to the Lord and then think we will get everything we ever ask for? I don’t think so. It almost sounds like a fake act when I state it that way. Instead, here are the things these verses instruct us to do:
These bullets points can all be studies in and of themselves
- Trust in the Lord
- Do Good
- Dwell in the Land
- Feed on His Faithfulness
- Delight in the Lord (be soft and pliable)
- Commit your way to the Lord
- Rest in the Lord
- Wait patiently for the Lord
- Do not fret
After reading all of the verses in context and seeing the planned order of the actions we need to take makes all of the content is much more profound.
Our first step is to TRUST in the Lord and do good, then DWELL in the land (for this purpose I think this means be content where God has us), then FEED on His faithfulness, and then DELIGHT in Him. When we are soft and pliable, seeking the Lord and trusting in Him we more easily commit our way to the Lord which results in rest for our souls and patience and it takes away the need to fret. Isn’t that an amazing prescription?
God is a God of order and purpose and I don’t believe that the placing and order of these words are unintentional.
The Desires of our Heart
When we follow steps 1-5, then he will give us the desires of our hearts. My suspicion here is that once we follow the order God has set for us as laid out above, then our desires start to become His. When we are seeking Him by trusting in Him and living out our trust by doing good, being content where we are because we know he is Sovereign (dwell in the land), we feed (get nourishment) from His faithfulness and are soft and pliable in our delight in Him – our desires become His desires instead of what would have been worldly desires. Worldly desires would be things like video games, a new house, a different body or hair, more kids, less kids, to be like someone else, etc.
He shall give (deliver, place, set up, lay, make do) you the desires of your heart.
(italics my addition)
I looked up the words desires and heart in Hebrew.
Desires – מִשְׁאֲלֹת, (mishalah, mish-aw-law’) means request or petition.
Heart – לֵב , leb, (labe) means the inner being of a man and fountain of all he does.
Our heart is our most interior organ, used figuratively for feelings, the will, and the center, aims, principles, and thoughts. It is receptive to the world’s influences and God himself, specifically the Holy Spirit.
Our heart is our inner being, to be protected for it is the wellspring of life (Proverbs 4:23). It is very influenced by what we seek, how we live, our desires, our thoughts and more. If we are focusing on God by trusting, dwelling, feeding on his faithfulness, and delighting in Him then it is safe to say that the influence to our heart would be coming from the Lord rather than the world. That is a safe place to be. That is when our desires become His.
Practically, what do these action words look like in our lives?
Trusting in Him can mean that we lean on him, we run in haste for his refuge when trouble comes. I picture myself as a little girl running to Him and literally sitting in his shadow to get away from the bad guys! Trusting in Him means we believe in our hearts that what is going on in our lives is His perfect plan for us individually. It means we believe His promises are absolute truths and know that He never changes. If you struggle in any of these areas, I would encourage you to pray fervently to the Lord from your heart (your inner being) asking Him to teach you to trust Him. He will answer. He has in my life and honestly, I think it will be a continual journey hopefully increasingly getting better all the time. Learning to trust sometimes hurts though and is hard because it goes against our flesh. When we trust in Him we really can rest in Him.
Doing good here means to live out our trust. Living out our trust in the Lord means that regardless of our circumstances we desire and DO good (that’s a verb – an action word – it is active, NOT passive.) With autoimmunity, I wake up sometimes not feeling very good and I have to trust that God has allowed that for me that day and I still need to do good. It does not mean that I strive to do all the things on my “to do” list but rather it looks like being gentle and kind to my kids in spite of feeling like crud or serving (to the best of my abilities) my family throughout the day or even helping someone else out who is in need (if I am physically able.) When we lean on the Lord (trust) it is amazing how much strength His Grace gives us.
Dwelling in the land could mean that instead of grumbling about the house you live in or the job you have or even the spouse you have you dwell there in contentment because you are first trusting in the Lord because remember, His perfect plan for your life is being played out. It could mean that we actively will ourselves to speak praises out loud about our circumstances rather than complaints. Our thoughts create our perspective. What we dwell on becomes us.
To speak gratitude is courteous and pleasant, to engage gratitude is generous and noble but to live gratitude is to touch heaven. Johannes A. Gaertner.
Change your thoughts and you change your world. Norman Vincent Peale
Feeding on his faithfulness is to read God’s word daily, seeking Him and meditating in prayer and thought on His faithfulness and kept promises of people in the Bible. It would also be looking back in your own life and recounting how God has shown Himself faithful and trustworthy during your life’s circumstances. We get nourishment by taking in and while physical nourishment should come from foods we ingest our spiritual nourishment should come from the word of God and actively, thoughtfully remembering His work in our lives. More practical tips on this are here and here.
Being flexible with our lives and not holding on too tightly is a way of delighting in the Lord. Remember, He is sovereign so we don’t have to hold on tight. He is leading us and showing us the way. Maybe you really want that new job you have interviewed for and are up nights wondering if it is going to happen. Try and remember that God’s will is perfect so no matter how much you think about it, it won’t change whether you will or won’t get that job. Maybe your child has a health issue? Again, as hard as that is, God’s will for your little one is perfect too and in trusting in Him in His work and delighting in him, rest will come naturally. He knows the number of all of our days (Psalm 139) and if we give each day over to Him by not holding on too tightly to our expectations or our plans and committing our way to Him then, as the passage says, at the top of this post He will bring forth our righteousness as light and justice as the noonday. That is pretty exciting to me! I challenge you to dig deeper into these verses to search the meanings of God’s part – what He gives us or what is a result of our obedience in steps one through nine above. I don’t have enough space to delve into that here but it could be just as much of an in-depth study.
By the way – did you notice that it says Trust in the Lord (or in Him) twice in these verses. That would imply that our trust is VERY important in God’s eyes.
When we trust and delight in the Lord, rest and patience come more naturally than when we are in our flesh trying to hold on to everything and do everything in our own strength.
Will you join me in delighting in the Lord, trusting Him and resting on His faithfulness and promises today?
I pray God will bring you to an abiding trust and deep rest in Him as you delight in Him.