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What does it mean to "Delight yourself in the Lord" (Psalm 37:4)?

"Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart." —Psalm 37:4

Does “delight yourself in the Lord” sound like some shallow Christian meme or something your church-going grandmother says? Well, you're probably right—it does! Sometimes these churchy sayings get so overused that we aren’t even sure what they mean anymore. "Delight yourself in the Lord" is one of those, but we're going to try to explain it simply.

Taking delight in the Lord means that our hearts truly find peace and fulfillment in God.

Delighting ourselves in the Lord means trading our worries for faith, anxieties for hope, and discouragement for contentment. If we truly find satisfaction and worth in Jesus, the Bible says He will give us the longings of our hearts.

Does that mean that if we go to church every Sunday, God might give us the next generation iPhone? Nope. That's not what the Bible means by the "desires of your heart." The idea behind this verse and others like it is that, when we truly know and love God and His ways, our desires will begin to align with His desires, and we will never go unfulfilled.

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things [the necessities of life] will be given to you as well.” —Matthew 6:33

Have you ever been bummed because your parents said "no" to that expensive backpack you wanted or because the person you asked out decides to go out with someone else? Have you ever felt like your life is over because you didn’t get the job you wanted or were rejected by your first choice for college?

Yes, those things can be bummers! But when we focus on things of the world rather than the good plans God has for our lives, we get discouraged and become discontent about our lives.

The secret to contentment, peace, joy, and happiness is knowing what God wants for you and wanting only what God wants!

The actor Jim Carrey once said that he wished everyone could experience wealth and fame and everything they ever wanted so that they could realize that those things are not the answer. Many delight in wealth, status, material possessions, or other temporary things of this world, yet they are never satisfied. They never truly get what they want, which is why they are always left wanting more.

This is the lesson King Solomon learned in his pursuit of earthly treasure: “Everything is meaningless!” (Ecclesiastes 1:2). But "delighting in the Lord" yields true treasure indeed: “Godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Timothy 6:6).

The World's Lures vs. God's Fulfillment

The Apostle Paul stated that he had lived both in need and with plenty. He knew what it was to be well fed AND to be hungry, but he had learned how to be content in BOTH circumstances. His secret to contentment was a deep, abiding trust that God loves Him, keeps His promises, and provides for all his needs (Philippians 4:11-13).

Paul understood that if he was hungry, there was something to be gained from experiencing hunger—greater empathy for others, thankfulness during times of plenty, an avoidance of poisonous food that might disrupt his mission.

If God said "no" to one of Paul's wants, it was because God had a better plan in mind for his life. Paul learned to align his wants through the perspective of God’s desires for his life.

Loving One Master

"Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever." —1 John 2:15-17

You can’t love and worship the world AND love and worship God at the same time. You have to choose.

Everything in the world—sexual desire, the pursuit of wealth and things, the desire for status and fame—comes from the world. And one day, the world and all its lures will be tossed out like garbage. But whoever chooses the will of God will live forever in contentment.

The World Can't Bring True Fulfillment

We will never be deeply fulfilled, joyful, or truly “happy” with the things this world has to offer. If we place our joy and hope in God first, He will provide for all our needs. As our hearts’ desires begin to match up with His will, God may grant those desires too. If we truly place our priority on the Lord, chances are, our heart’s greatest desires will not be possessions, status, or wealth, but rather the eternal treasures we find in following Christ.

This world can never satisfy our deepest longings, but if we choose to delight in God’s way, He will always provide above and beyond our expectations. Never once has God given me less than what I have asked for, but many times He has given me much more than I even thought to ask for. Jesus said, “Whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:14).

We can delight in the Lord when we know that we will never go without God’s best plan for our lives—even when that brings temporary suffering or disappointments. The more we come to know God through studying His Word, the more we will trust Him to supply our needs and find contentment in His goodness.

TL;DR

Taking delight in the Lord means that our hearts truly find peace and fulfillment in God. We can delight in the Lord when we know that we will never go without God’s best plan for our lives—even when that brings temporary suffering or disappointments. The more we come to know God through studying His Word, the more we will trust Him to supply our needs and find contentment in His goodness.

By: Rhonda Maydwell

Rhonda is an author, wife, mother, and mentor. She graduated from the University of Missouri with a degree in English and Religious studies. She loves studying God’s Word for truth and wisdom and uses it as a compass and roadmap for her own spiritual journey. Rhonda believes in sharing the Good News and the hope found in Biblical truths with others. She uses her writing and mentoring opportunities (often with a pinch of humor) to do just that.

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