Bible Study - Your Heart’s Desire
Psalm 37:4-5 Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this.
There are two parts to this. It is an “if… then” promise. The first part is, if you do something, and the second part is, then the Lord will do something for you. The second part is getting what you want, that is fulfillment of the desires of your heart.
So, what are the desires of your heart? Let’s make the question simpler and it becomes: what do you want to do? What is it that you long to have? What is your mission in life? Perhaps you will admit some good desires: I want to be a missionary, or a faithful husband or wife, a good friend, and I want to have enough wisdom and strength to fulfill my responsibilities for those who will rely on me.
Or, let’s bring the question a little closer to the here and now, you might say, well, I want, a girlfriend, or a boyfriend, someone to be intimate with, and share life and its pleasures with. Or you might say, I want to master English and speak it well. Perhaps if you were really honest, you might even say, I want to be more beautiful, or more in control of things. We are thinking about desires of the heart, not merely wishful thinking, or childish desire or gratification, such as an icecream, and we are not thinking about bad things.
At any rate, this verse, Psalm 37:4, looks like a “how-to-get-what-you-want” promise, so it is worth having a closer look.
First, let’s look at the second part – the desires of the heart. The Bible has quite a lot to say about desires and about the heart.
1. Our hearts are the center of our attitudes and motivations and what happens in them is very important.
Old Testament: Proverbs 4.22 Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the well-spring of life.
New Testament: Matthew 6:21 “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
2. Our hearts can have evil things inside them.
OT Proverbs 12.20 “There is deceit in the heart of those who plot evil.” Deceit is deliberate concealment of the truth. It is dishonesty. Such as making someone believe something that you know isn’t true. It is lying. Deceit goes with evil.
3. Our hearts can have good things in them.
NT. It is one of the eight Beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5:8 “Blessed are the pure in heart” Purity of heart is the opposite of deceit. It is saying the truth simply. Ask yourself: what is in your heart when you tempted not to say the truth?
4. Our hearts are ours.
We can decide what is in our hearts – that is, what our motivations and attitudes will be. OT Psalm 95.8 Do not harden your hearts. The NT says exactly the same thing; Hebrews 3:8 Do not harden your hearts We can let all sorts of desires into our hearts. Bad things. It is easy to do, especially small things; that no one sees. You can close your heart to God, and if you do, after a while, you won’t even understand God’s message.
5. What we put in our hearts, good or not so good, whether we let God in or shut him out, God tests our hearts.
OT Proverbs. 17.3 the crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the Lord tests the heart. A crucible is kind of bowl that is put on a strong fire. So the Lord will test you, at some point. Jesus was tested in the desert, so you will be.
Proverbs 21.2: All a man’s ways seem right to him, but the Lord weighs the heart.
NT 1 Cor. 4:5 He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. We will be held responsible for what is in our hearts. Actually, the Lord already knows what is in our hearts, Luke 16:15 Jesus, speaking to Pharisees, told them “…God knows your hearts” But he is going to test our hearts anyway.
6. The test of what is in our hearts is easy because what is in there comes out in what we say and in what we do. In the OT, it comes out on your face.
Proverbs 15:13 A happy heart makes the face cheerful.
I’ve heard that some creams are so good that it makes your face glow with good health, here it is; A cheerful face comes from the heart. In the same chapter of Proverbs 15.30 A cheerful look brings joy to the heart. What a blessing to others, just by having a cheerful face. What blessing are we to those we meet everyday – our family and friends, workmates, and casual acquaintances. When people see you, they see a happy face, and from it they get joy. That is a pretty good mission. It comes from the heart. You don’t have to make up a cheerful exterior with makeup and expensive clothes so that when people see you they will smile at you, and then you will get joy and a happy heart. You can give joy to others by having a happy heart and cheerful face.
7. What is in our hearts comes out in what we say and in what we do.
OT. Proverbs 16:23 A wise man’s heart guards his mouth. A person with a good heart will be careful in what they say. And then in Proverbs 12.26 “An anxious heart weighs down a man, but a kind word cheers him up.” What is your mission in life? I’m going to be a saying-kind-words-person, to cheer people up. Oh, what a good mission! And in the NT Jesus said exactly the same thing, when he answered the Pharisee’s accusation that he was driving out demons in the power of demons. Jesus said; Luke 6:45 No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.
Jesus reminds us that our speech and actions reveal what is in our heart – our attitudes and our motivations.
However, be careful. It is possible to try to create a good impression by being careful in what we say and do – and try to hide a selfish attitude and bad motivation. Jesus in Mark (7:6) spoke about “These people honor with lips, but heart is far from me.” We can do that for a while, and get away with this kind of hypocrisy, perhaps. But, good impressions cannot last if our hearts are deceptive. What is in our hearts will come out, eventually, in our speech and behaviour.
And in Matthew’s (12:34-36) account of this same sermon, Jesus adds this. But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.
We are responsible to God for what we say and do, and we will be punished if we nurture evil in our hearts.
8. But God is not a condemning God. He can create in us heart that is acceptable to him – if we open our hearts to God.
First, In the OT We must (psalm 119.2) Seek him with all your heart. And we can pray as did David in Psalm 51:10: Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. And we can believe Ezekiel’s (18:31)prophesy that God would give a New heart and a new spirit. In the NT, we can go with Paul, as he implored his readers in Colosse (3:15) to let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.
God can give us a new heart, that isn’t filled with envy, jealousy, false hopes and deceit, and the anguish and uncertainty that those things bring. Isn’t it amazing that, though the heavens cannot contain God, he is willing to live in the hearts of those who love him? Indeed, He wants to live in our hearts. What we must do is keep our hearts open to God. To allow the Holy Spirit to fill you with new attitudes and motives.
9. We must obey God wholeheartedly and that means to give yourself fully to God, to love him “with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind”(Mtt 22.37)
And yet so often our efforts to know and obey God’s commands can best be described as “half-hearted” How do you rate your heart’s obedience? God wants to give you the power to obey him with all your heart.
Now, let’s go back to the text, Psalm 37:4; Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.
What can we say about the first part of this “If … then” promise. What is the, “Delight yourself in the Lord”, clause? Doesn’t it mean that we must take great pleasure in opening our hearts to God? We want to do it because it is life to us. We first, set our hearts on things above (Col 3:1)
And what about those other questions – those important questions about mission in life, and our long-term desires such as destiny in life and jobs and other things, family and marriage and those other impulse desires that seem to spring up suddenly and overwhelmingly from no where.
God knows our needs and desires, our longings before we even bring them to him. Of course we bring them to God in prayer and patience, waiting for his timing to give us his benefits in life. He knows that the job he wants us to do matches perfectly the abilities he has given us, and when we do them, obediently, we are happy.
And as we do this we have Jesus’ other promise, in Matthew 6.23 “… your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
We have this reassurance: Psalm 145:13b-16
The Lord is faithful to all his promises
and loving toward all he has made.
The Lord upholds all those who fall
and lifts up all who are bowed down.
The eyes of all look to you
and you give them food at the proper time.
You open your hand
and satisfy the desires of every living thing.
The Lord is righteous in all his ways,
and loving toward all he has made.
He fulfills the desires of those who fear him;
and he hears their cry and saves them.
By Paul Langkamp