Celebrating the Vision
Focal Text- NRSV 4 Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Take delight in the Lord (RSV, NIV, NAB, Dahood), that is, seek and find in him the source of happiness and joy, and not in material possessions.
Delight in the Lord (v. 4). The word translated “delight” comes from a root that means “to be brought up in luxury, to be pampered.” It speaks of the abundance of the blessings we have in the Lord Himself, totally apart from what He gives us. To enjoy the blessings and ignore the Blesser is to practice idolatry. In Jesus Christ, we have all God’s treasures, and we need no other. If we truly delight in the Lord, then the chief desire of our heart will be to know Him better so we can delight in Him even more, and the Lord will satisfy that desire! This is not a promise for people who want “things,” but for those who want more of God in their lives.
Prayer is the bedrock of confidence in God. It was in Jeremiah’s day, and it remains a key to seeking God with all one’s heart. God’s promises are freely given, but not all of them can be freely accepted—that is, they have little relevancy to an indifferent people. For those in dire straits, it should come as good news that God knows the future and is committed to the redemption of his people. “Seek and you will find” (Matt. 7:7) is the Lord’s gracious command, not “resign and do nothing.”
Everyone has a story about parents who love their children by drawing clear boundaries and enforcing them. My favorite story about such “tough love” comes from a friend who got a call from the police. His underage granddaughter and friends had been caught using fake identification to get into a night club and buy liquor, so he went down to the station. When he arrived, the officer in charge offered to take him to the room where the girls were waiting. “That’s OK,” he said, “let them stew in there a while.” Then he asked the officer to tell him the whole story. After warnings were given and the girls were on their way home, they pleaded with him not to tell their parents, and the reason they had called him became clear. “Oh, no,” came the answer, “everyone’s parents are going to know about this.”
Our stories about parents and children may be like those that gave rise to these proverbs about correcting sons and servants, and by extension, the correction of whole peoples. The leapfrog connection of sons (29:15, 17), people (29:18, 20), and servants (29:19, 21) remind us that we have to face the unpleasant duty of setting limits and enforcing discipline. In doing so, we risk being seen as less than tolerant, indulgent, and encouraging, but we will also be known as people who know the value of boundaries and guidance. As another election day draws near, my television is flooded with ads for candidates who portray themselves either as supporters of education and social welfare or tough-minded guardians who will reduce crime through better law enforcement and prosecution. Why must we be forced to choose between teaching and setting limits?
Materialism is a rampant cancer that is now a worldwide temptation, which consequently produces untold worry in people as to how they will be able to maintain the kind of lifestyle they require.
The pursuit of material wealth is a feeble attempt to fill the dark void that can only be filled by a good eye fixed on Jesus as our sole Master and Provider. We will all do well to ask ourselves frequently, “What is the most valuable thing in my life?” And then we should evaluate where we have spent our time, what we have invested our life pursuing, and where we have spent our money. Good accounting—whether of time, relationships, or money—is a good gauge of our values.
Money, wealth, and possessions have at least three primary purposes in Scripture: (1) to give appropriate care for one’s own family and prevent them from becoming a burden to others (1 Thess. 4:11–12; 2 Thess. 3:6–15; 1 Tim. 5:8); (2) to help those who are in need, especially the family of faith (Prov. 19:17; Acts 11:27–30; Rom. 15:25–27; 2 Cor 8:1–15; Gal. 6:7–10; Eph. 4:28; 1 Tim. 5:3–7); and (3) to encourage and support God’s work in spreading the gospel of the kingdom both at home and around the world (1 Cor. 9:3–14; Phil. 4:14–19; 1 Tim. 5:17–18). If we put Jesus at the center of our lives to serve and love him with all that we are and have, we will use appropriately all the blessings of life and avoid the modern idolatry of materialism.