I wanted to share an encouragement to you from Psalm 37:1-7. But before we get to Psalms, I want to share a story:
When I was about 14 or 15 years old, I had a best friend who told me he didn’t want to be my friend any more. The reason being that I was too obsessed with God. We were exchanging messages using Yahoo Messenger, I remember pausing trying to process what just happened, and saying underneath my breath, “God will just give me more friends.”
Now, if you grew up during that time, you might remember using MySpace. It’s one of the first social media platform that everyone was using. It was so cool because you could customize the background and add music to your profile page. It’s literally what got me started with web development. I don’t remember if it was that night after my devastating conversation with my former best friend or the next day, but when I logged on , I found out that my myspace got hacked. I couldn’t login and I couldn’t recover my password because my yahoo email was also hacked. Being so zealous for the Lord at 15, I had a background the said, “Jesus is Lord, Jesus is Good, Jesus is God,.” That was completely redone, replacing the word Jesus with Satan.
I was now in even more distraught. I never did find out if it was actually my friend who had hacked me or someone else. It could not have been a coincidence but I didn’t want to blame him without evidence. I remember crying myself to sleep that night praying that God would soften whoever it was to give me the ability to recover my password. I woke up that morning and immediately tried to change my password, and to my surprise I was able to. Tears of joy filled me and it was that moment that I knew I could come to the Lord with anything I was going through – from heartaches, disappointments, failures, and betrayals – I knew I was held and comforted no matter what the outcome may be.
So let’s go back to Psalm 37:1-7 –
1 Fret not yourself because of evildoers;
be not envious of wrongdoers!
2 For they will soon fade like the grass
and wither like the green herb.
3 Trust in the Lord, and do good;
dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
4 Delight yourself in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
5 Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him, and he will act.
6 He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,
and your justice as the noonday.
7 Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;
fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way,
over the man who carries out evil devices!
I’ve always loved verse 4, so much so that I’ve made it one my life verses. But I never understood the context of this verse. Verse 4 is actually the centerpiece of a much larger poem. Verse 1-7 was written in a poetic structure called chiasm, where the main point of the poem is at the middle. King David wrote this poem at his old age giving wisdom to those who will come after him on how to posture their heart in the presence of their enemies.
I don’t know which evildoer David was alluding to as he was writing, but I can only imagine him recalling the time when he was running away from King Saul or from his son, Absolom, because they were trying to kill him. Or the time when his wife and his men’s wives were captured and he retreated to strengthen himself the Lord.
In our context today, we might not have an enemy who is chasing us trying to kill us, but when things are not going our way, or when we are triggered by what someone says, our reaction typically to be afraid, to run or to fight back to gain some sort of control. But for King David, his first response to the posture his heart in delight before the Lord.
The Posture of Softness
I found something fascinating about the word delight. For the longest time, I thought delight here meant to be joyful, to be happy, or to be cheerful. There was always a disconnection between David’s response and how I would probably react if were to find myself in the same situation. How can David be joyful or cheerful, when he had an enemy trying to kill him?
When I looked at the word “delight” in this verse, its meaning goes far deeper than just being happy or joyful. The Hebrew word used is “anag,” which means to be soft, to be delicate, or to be dainty. It’s not about being happy as much as it is about being vulnerable to what’s happening within you and bringing it to the Lord. For King David, every time he postures himself in delight before the Lord, he always receives the desires of his heart. Not because his circumstances changed but because he always found comfort in Him. I wonder if this was how David was able to spare Saul’s life when he had an opportunity to kill him. The posture of softness allowed him to show mercy for his enemies.
What if delight is the gauge to walking in love? That love is an invitation for us to be soft even in the presence of our enemies? We can create distance and boundary, just like David did, but it doesn’t have to cost us our peace.
When fear kicks in, softness leaves. We become stiff. Our skin literally hardens. Cortisol releases in our body and we get into protection. We fight. We run. We freeze. We fawn. We place ourselves are at the mercy of our self-preservation mechanism that constantly detect our environment for danger.
But finding our comfort in the Lord, keeps us soft. Perhaps Jesus saying, “Blessed are those mourn they they will be comforted,” is an echo to Psalm 37:4. In a way, becoming soft in the presence of God is the mourning process that allows us to receive comfort. This would be vital if we are to learn how to walk in love because we cannot fully enter into love without softness and vulnerability.
The Practice of Stillness
Something I've learned about myself is that I am very malleable and moldable. I don't like to be confined to one idea. I love change. I love getting lost in my thoughts. Like a sponge, I soak everything I encounter. But if I am not careful and if I don't know how to guard my own heart, what I delight in will shape my heart. There was one time I watched a series of martial arts movies and by the end of it I was dreaming of moving to China and become a Shaolin Monk!
This make sense when Solomon said, guard your heart above all else for from it flows the issues of life. Some translation says, "the springs of life." So how you guard your heart will determine what flows from it. Either the issues of life will flow or the springs of life.
David knew that what you delight in will shape you. You become what you behold. In Psalms 46:10, God said, “Be still my heart and know that I am God.”
This is about trust. Jesus said, “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.”
Worry, anxiousness, fear are all survival emotions that tend to rise up within our hearts. But the invitation here from the Lord is trust that He’s got it. You don’t even need to pray about it. The invitation to trust is not so we can ignore the problem, it’s to change our belief system and the internal state of our heart. If I open my heart to worry, then worry has the capacity to shape me.
Start by slowing down, taking in deep breaths and paying attention to the inhalation and exhalation. Your muscle will relax and you will become soft. This is the practice of stillness. When you become still and you become soft, you can enter into a space of delight before the Lord.
It’s here in the slowing down where you actually become aware of everything. You become still with what you are feeling and trusting in the Lord despite all the emotions that you are experiencing.
You’re aware of the problem yet feel very safe as if the Lord is actually showing what they are from the His perspective. He’s taking you into this non-judgmental space of yourself and invites you that this is where true transformation actually takes place. Your circumstances doesn’t have to change but your internal world is in a far greater reality – His world.
You can face your pain, your brokenness, your trauma, your sin, your failure and never question whether God is far away or close. Why?
Because you’ve had a revelation that in Him you move and live and have your being. And now He can strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being to face whatever you are going through.
So whether you are
a 15 year old who just lost a best friend,
a 23 year old who went through a breakup,
a 35 year old who who went through a divorce
a 50 year old who with a failed business,
there is a space for you to delight – to become soft, to be delicate, to be vulnerable before the Lord – and he will give you the desires of your heart with comfort, safety and belonging.