I received the following question.

Psalms 37:4 Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.

What does this verse mean to us today? I mean whenever anyone thinks about it they say well after following after the Lord, his desires will become your desires. I want more than that. I would like a deeper understanding of this verse. As a believer who has been sold out for Christ and been seeking after Him intently for somewhere around 3 years. I would like to know the impact of this verse related to my life. Can I know these desires? Obviously, they should be God-honoring (and according to His “Will”).

That is a great question! What is important in interpreting this verse, as it is in many cases, is considering the context. In verse 1, we read,

A Psalm of David.

1. Do not fret because of evildoers,

Nor be envious of the workers of iniquity.

Here, we are introduced to the subject of the psalm. It is evildoers, and our tendency to fret because of them. Verse 2 tells us why we should not do this.

2. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass,

And wither as the green herb.

This is the truth that comforts us regarding the evildoers and the workers of iniquity. Their comfort and their success is fleeting and temporary. They are only able to continue in their wickedness for a short time before the law of sin and death catches up with them.

3. Trust in the LORD, and do good;

Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.

This is what the righteous are to do instead of fretting about the wicked. They are to place their trust in the LORD, do good, dwell in the land of Israel, and feed on His faithfulness. Of course, we as Gentiles have no land that God has given us, but certainly the rest of this advice is good for us to follow as well.

4. Delight yourself also in the LORD,

And He shall give you the desires of your heart.

This is the verse in question. What desires are spoken of? We will come back to this after considering a little more of the Psalm.

5. Commit your way to the LORD,

Trust also in Him,

And He shall bring it to pass.

This continues the promise that was made. Further advice is given: to trust in the LORD, and to commit your way to Him. Yet what is it that He shall bring to pass, in that case? Obviously, “it” is the same thing as the “desires of your heart” of verse 4. Yet what desires are these?

6. He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light,

And your justice as the noonday.

Here, I believe, we start to see the desires this psalm is talking about. I can certainly speak for myself in saying that I earnestly desire to be righteous. I am neither happy nor satisfied with being an imperfect human being. I desire to live up to the verse, “Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48) Yet I fully realize that I do not live up to this. Sometimes I behave in a righteous way, yet all too often my righteousness is mixed with selfishness or other motivations, and instead of shining light, all too often my deeds are darkness. Those who are of the world are often perfectly happy being unrighteous. They take pleasure, or even pride, in their own unrighteousness. Yet for the believer, righteousness is something that our hearts desire but to which our flesh is unable to attain.

The same holds true for justice. Every child cries out that things should be fair. All too often, of course, this cry is made because the child feels he is not getting something he wants that he feels it would be fair for him to get, whereas if someone else is not getting what he wants, his desire for fairness is not there. Yet as believers I think it is in us to truly desire fairness, not just for ourselves, but for all. How often do we see that the world is not the way it should be, and wish that things were different? How often do we wish that the things that are wrong with this world could be repaired? This is a desire that every thinking believer, and even every thinking and caring person, must have.

Ultimately, these desires are given to us in their completeness by the LORD. Part of our understanding must be that this verse is not just talking about any selfish desires we might have. He does not provide us with a fancy new sports car just because we selfishly desire it. Instead, He places the righteous desires in our hearts that He will then fulfill. He does not just give us the things we desire, but He also gives us the desires themselves.

7. Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him;

Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way,

Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass.

8. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath;

Do not fret–it only causes harm.

Now, David calls on us to wait patiently for the LORD to bring these things to pass. We are not to lose sight of His plan and start fretting because of the wicked. This will only cause harm.

9. For evildoers shall be cut off;

But those who wait on the LORD,

They shall inherit the earth.

This verse gives us the clue as to when these God-given desires of our heart will be fully realized. It will be when evildoers are cut off, but those who wait on the LORD inherit the earth. The desires of our hearts will be given to us in the future when God’s Kingdom comes to earth at last.

What might the desires of our hearts be? Longing for righteousness and justice, as mentioned above, will certainly be fulfilled in the Kingdom, for then we will be made righteous, and justice will be done upon the whole earth. There are other desires that likewise will not be met until that day. For example, desires to see a dearly departed loved one again. Desires to be able to repair a problem we have created that it is beyond our power to fix. I have met men in prison who have come to the LORD, and yet know they can never repair the harm they have done to other people. Those things will be repaired in that day. Other desires might be fulfilled in this life, but even if they are not, they certainly will be in the kingdom. For example, the desire to find a lifelong marriage partner. This is certainly a Godly desire, and one that He has placed in our hearts. This is something that many believers desire today, and yet not all will find such a partner. Others desire to have children of their own, and yet find that this is a desire that they are not able to fulfill. Yet to any who never manage to create a family in this life, the promise of Psalm 68:6 stands: “God sets the solitary in families.” Even if you were the only member of your family to receive that life to come, God would not leave you alone, but would give you a family to belong to. Others might desire to “do something important with my life.” Well, again that is a desire that not all of us might satisfy. I think sometimes we value things that we do too little. Anyone who has led someone to the LORD, or who has truly encouraged fellow believers in following Him, or who has helped others grow in the truth has done something important and significant. Yet in that day, when God will direct our ways, we will know that the things we are doing with our lives for Him are important indeed.

So the desires of our hearts, as spoken of in Psalm 37:4, are desires which are given to us by God, not just selfish desires we might have. These desires will be fulfilled, though not necessarily in this life. They will definitely be fulfilled in the life to come, God’s great Kingdom on earth. Regarding this life, though, we can take to heart the promise God gives us in Philippians 4:6-7.

6. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;

7. and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

This we can know, whether we receive the things God causes us to desire in this life or not: that no matter what troubles our hearts, we can bring it to God, and He will give us peace. That is a blessed truth, and it is one we can cling to, even in this time of the silence of God.