By J.R. Miller
"Delight yourself in the LORD--and He will give you the desires of your heart!"
The young people who have read "The Arabian Nights" will remember the strange story of 'Aladdin', who possessed a magic lamp--which commanded the services of certain genie. By rubbing the lamp, Aladdin got whatever he wished--and grew rich and great. But that is only an impossible story of fantasy.
Yet in this Psalm, we have a promise which seems to tell us of a way in which we can get anything we wish. "Delight yourself in the LORD--and He will give you the desires of your heart!" It is not by rubbing a magic lamp, however, that we can get what we desire. True religion is not magic. Yet some people seem almost to think that it is. Simon Magus thought so, and tried to buy the secret. A man who has lived a wicked life, never giving God a thought, when thinking that he is about to die--is greatly alarmed, sends for a minister, thinking that thus he can have heaven opened for his soul. It is not in this way--that a desire for heavenly blessedness can be gratified.
What is it to delight ourselves in the Lord? It means to love God--to love to be with Him, to love to please Him, to love His ways, to love His service.
We know what it is to delight ourselves in a friend. You love your friend so much that when you are with him, you are perfectly happy. You have no wish ungratified; you need nothing else to complete your contentment; your soul finds its home in him.
This is the ideal in marriage--that the two who wed shall delight in each other. They should meet each other's desires and yearnings. They should be one in interest, in purpose, in the aims of life.
Yesterday I had a letter from the Pacific Coast, from one I have never seen--but whom I have sought to help. She is considering the question of marriage and she writes of the young man: "I love him very dearly and yet I hesitate to give my life into his keeping. He is noble and kind and worthy--but in some respects he is far from being the man I have always had in mind in thinking of marriage. There is something lacking. There is a need in my life which is not met in his--the perfect union in consecration to God." There may be true love there--but there is not yet full, undisturbed delight in the friend. There is not complete accord, there is not perfect confidence, there is not absolute trust. All these elements are essential in delight in a friend.
To delight in God, also implies the qualities of love, trust, confidence, accord of will. There is a cluster of counsels in this Psalm which belong together:
"Trust in the Lord."
"Delight yourself also in the Lord."
"Commit your way unto the Lord."
"Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for Him."
"Trust in the Lord." You cannot delight yourself in God--if you do not trust Him. Trust implies confidence. John leaned upon his Master's bosom that dark night of the betrayal. The distress of the disciples was terrible. They could not understand. It looked as if all their hopes were in ruin. Yet see John leaning on Jesus' bosom--calm, quiet, unafraid. You remember, too, what Jesus said to His disciples that night, as He comforted them: "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me." They could not understand, and He could not explain the mystery of their sorrow, so that they could understand. Then He asked them to trust in the darkness, just to believe that nothing was going wrong. We must trust God--if we would delight in Him. If there is not absolute trust, there cannot be delight.
"Delight yourself also in the Lord." Delight means joy, and if there is the slightest fear, there will be pain, a feeling of insecurity, a dread of something going wrong, or that something will go wrong. Trust in the Lord is necessary, to delight in Him.
"Commit your way unto the Lord." There will come hours of uncertainty in every life, Hours when we shall not know what to do, which way to take, where to find help. Then it is, that we should learn that Christ is not only our Savior from sin--but the Lord also who orders all our ways. There seem to be a great many people who can trust God for the salvation of their souls--but who have not learned to trust Him with the choosing of their ways, the direction of their affairs, the care of their lives. They fret and worry continually. We have not learned the full meaning of trust--until we have formed the habit of committing all our way unto the Lord. The reason for worrying, which is so common a habit, even among Christians, is that people do not roll their way upon God. If they only knew this blessed secret--they would not worry any more. Only think what it would mean to worrying people, if they understood this and instead of being anxious about every little thing--would take it to the Lord in prayer and let the peace of God keep their hearts and their thoughts in holy quiet.
Instead of trying to manage our own affairs, let us begin to commit them to God. Then there will be no blunders made. We will not any longer spoil the web--by ignoring the pattern and weaving our own way. If we learn to commit our way unto the Lord, down to the minutest matters--it will help us to delight in the Lord. It will add immeasurably to our feeling of safety--to believe that God is taking care of us!
Another of the words of trust grouped here in this old Psalm is, "Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for Him." One of the marginal renderings is, "Be silent to the Lord." Never answer the Lord in the way of protesting against His guidance, or questioning His providence. Never ask in the day of cross-bearing or pain or trial, "Why?" Some of us are not silent to God--when He leads us in ways that are rough and steep. The words mean full and complete submission to the will of God. Silence to God is taught by our Lord Himself. It is woven into the daily prayer He gave us. "May Your will be done in earth, as it is in heaven." How is God's will done in heaven? Silently, songfully, sweetly. As in heaven, so on earth.
These are suggestions of the meaning of the words, "Delight yourself in the Lord." It means trusting in the Lord. It means committing our way unto Him. It means resting in Him, being silent to Him. It means having our home in God.
"Lord, you have been our home." The ideal home is a place of perfect love, of perfect accord, of perfect confidence and trust. There is no strife, no doubt, no fear, no bitterness. The ideal home is a place of delight. Men are telling us these days that we should get and keep our lives in tune with God. This means that we fall in line with God in everything. We are not to demand that God shall bring His way down to suit our whims and frailties; rather and always we are to bring all our thoughts, plans, feelings, desires, and ambitions into harmony with His will.
Someone tells of entering a church one Sunday as the congregation were just beginning to sing. At first it seemed as if no two of the hundreds of voices were in accord. But the visitor noticed one clear, sweet, true voice singing, not loud--but calm and undisturbed, amid the discords. As stanza after stanza was sung--all the other voices came into accord with this true voice--and the last part of the Psalm was sung in perfect accord.
This is the way the will of God should rule in our lives. It finds us rebellious, discordant, out of tune with God, complaining, fretful, discontented, murmuring, even bitter against Him. But as we devote ourselves to God, to follow Jesus Christ, learn of Him, let His Spirit into our life--then little by little at first, then more and more, do the discords give way, do the murmurings and rebellings yield to submission, and does the music come into harmony, until our whole life becomes delight in God's will.
That should be the ideal of every Christian life--perfect accord with God. A godly man said, "It takes a long time to learn to be kind." SELF lives so persistently in our hearts, we are so full of the old spirit of resentment, unforgiveness, uncharitableness, we are so touchy, so bitter in our prejudices, so prone to see the evil in others and not to see the good--that it does indeed take a long time to learn to be kind. It takes so long, that not many people ever really learn it. There are not many kind people--that is, who are always kind, kind to everyone, to disagreeable people as well as to those who are agreeable, to enemies as well as to friends, to bad as well as to good--and that is what it means in the New Testament sense to be kind. It takes a great while to learn to be kind.
The same is true of every phase of the will of God. It takes a great while to learn to be patient, to learn to trust God, to learn to be absolutely true, to be rejoicing followers of Christ, to be helpers of others. It is a long lesson to delight oneself in God. Nevertheless, this is the lesson; it will take all your life to learn it well. But to learn it--is better than all riches, all power, all fame!
"Delight yourself in the Lord--and He will give you the desires of your heart." So this is the secret we have set out to find. This may seem a rather unusual promise. But the Bible is full of similar promises. The Lord said to Solomon as he began his reign, "Ask what I shall give you." Anything Solomon would choose for his life portion--God would give him. A young man says, "I wish God would give me a choice like that." He does! He says to every young person, "Ask what I shall give you. Delight yourself in the Lord--and He will give you the desires of your heart."
Remember, first of all, that you are delighting yourself in the Lord. You love Him supremely. You have committed your way to Him. All your desires are holy. One of the things that pleased God in Solomon's choice, was that it was unselfish. He had not asked for the death of his enemies. His choice was only that he might be a good king, might be a blessing to his people. If we delight ourselves in God, if He is our soul's home, if our wills are in full accord with His--we will not have unholy desires, selfish desires. We will desire only the things that God approves. We will not desire the hurt or harm of any human being. Our desires will all be for the honoring of God--and the blessing of others. If we delight ourselves in God--we will love to do His will.
Desires turned toward God--are prayers. Some people suppose they are praying--only when they are on their knees, or in some reverent attitude of devotion. They think they pray--only when they speak in words. But many of the most real and most acceptable prayers--are never voiced in words. They are only breathings of the soul, longings of the heart, yearnings and aspirations, which cannot be put into language. In one of Paul's epistles we are told that God is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we can ask and think. We can ask much in words, and then what a great field there is where our thoughts can go beyond our words. Thoughts, feelings, and yearnings--are prayers if they are turned toward God.
If we truly delight ourselves in God--all our desires will be sent up on faith's wings to God. Any longing of ours which is not fit to be a prayer--is not fit to be in our heart at all.
One of our Lord's Beatitudes is for those who long. "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be filled." Hungers and thirstings after godliness, desires to be better, longings for more holiness, wishes for closer communion with God and growing likeness to God--are prayers, and prayers which God loves to answer. The true spiritual life--is full of longings. In the Psalms, the writer's soul has intense cravings--not the cries for forgiveness--but the burning, passionate thirst for God Himself. We should cultivate spiritual longing.
A holy longing, makes us holy for the moment. Longing for Christ, brings us into Christ's presence for the time. Longing for righteousness, makes us righteous. But the same is true of evil desires. If we let sinful wishes occupy our minds--we will grow corrupt in heart. "As a man thinks in his heart--so is he." If you cherish wrong desires, impure feelings, unholy imaginations, you will get your desires, and your life will be vile. That is the secret of much of the world's evil. Let the evil desires stay in your mind--and you will soon be a mass of vileness. Keep your thoughts clean and white. Keep your desires fixed upon holy things, right things, on wholesome and true things, on pure and lovely things. Then God will give you the desires of your heart; and they will build up your life in the beauty of holiness.
"Delight yourself also in the Lord--and He shall give you the desires of your heart." Jesus said, "If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, you shall ask what you will, and it shall be done unto you." This is a thousand times better than any Aladdin's lamp. Delight yourself in the Lord, abide in Christ, let Christ's words abide in you--and no desire of yours will be unsatisfied. All life will then be a song. Fullness of blessing here on earth--then eternal blessedness in heaven!