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A Devotional:

Shine Like the Day

Psalm 37

Reading verse 6 of this passage reminds me of a chorus we used to sing in my youth group back in the ‘80s, “He will make your righteousness shine like the day, He will make you shine like the day. So shiiiiiiiiiiiine! He will make you shine like the day.” Remember that one? Great tune.

But perhaps the most familiar verse in this passage is verse 4: “Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you your heart’s desires.” It could also be one of the most misunderstood verses in Scripture. We tend to think that if we trust in the Lord, He will grant us the things that we want in life. The prosperity gospel proponents love this verse. But in its proper context, we see a different view of the “desires of our heart.”

First, let’s examine what it means to “take delight in the Lord.” In his Exposition of the Entire Bible, theologian John Gill (1697-1771) eloquently defines this delight this way: “In the persons in God, Father, Son, and Spirit; in the perfections of God, his power, goodness, faithfulness, wisdom, love, grace, and mercy; in his works of creation, providence, and redemption; in his word, his Gospel, the truths and ordinances of it; in his house, and the worship of it; and in his people, the excellent in the earth, in whom was all the delight of the psalmist; and each of these afford a field of delight and pleasure, to attend unto, contemplate, and meditate upon. . .” Clearly, this definition is an indication that we are to dwell on the very nature of God; all that He is and does.

Second, we see in this passage a series of contrasts between the evildoers and the believer. We’re exhorted not to “fret” (the CSB says “be agitated”) over the prosperity of those who do wrong. We’re encouraged not to get angry by looking at all the things unbelievers have, even though it seems they may have all that they want. But what they want is vain idols, simple pleasures, and earthly treasures.

We can draw from this that the desire of the heart of one who is truly devoted to God is simply to know, to love, and to serve Him. When we do this, His desires become our desires. Typically, these are not what we might define as the pleasures of this world, but rather those things that are for the work of the Lord, for the good of His people, and for the prospect of eternal life.

The world assumes the opposite of Scripture’s teaching. They say, “blessed are those who get ahead by any means possible. Those who put themselves first always win.” In fact, in verse 11, we see that it’s just the opposite. It’s the humble who will inherit the land. Or as Jesus put it in the Sermon on the Mount, “The gentle are blessed, for they will inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5).

As we consider this passage, perhaps we can identify those desires in our lives that contradict the things of God. Maybe we need to consider the ways in which we’re looking at the world’s definition of success, of prosperity, of pleasure, and realize these are not usually defined by the same measurement that God uses. Of course, this does not mean that all who prosper materially are evildoers. As in the light of Scripture’s totality, it’s a matter of the heart, of what we’re focused on and what we value.

The little that the righteous man has is better than the abundance of many wicked people.” (v. 16). Let’s place our value in the things of God, not the things of this earth. 

  • In what ways have you “fretted” over the prosperity of someone whom you consider to be a “wrong-doer?” What was your emotional reaction? 
  • Have do you define your “needs” versus your “wants?” Are they actually greater or less than what you have commonly thought?
  • When you feel that you have been wronged by “the bad guy,” how might you respond in a way that’s consistent with the teaching in Psalm 37? (See verses 27-40)

Pray: Father, help my desires to be your desires. Help me to discern, by your Spirit, the difference between my wants and my needs, and give me the faith to know that both come from you. Help me not to fret over the apparent prosperity of unbelievers, but to know that our treasures are in heaven. Thank you for the truth that you are our light, and that by your power, I can be a shining light to others of your glory.

Steve Smith
Executive Pastor
First Baptist Broken Arrow

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