Drink from the River of God’s Delight
November 11-12, 2023
David wrote this Psalm, and we know that he was old when he wrote it. How do we know that? Is because he told us. "Once I was young, now I'm old." What follows then is a Psalm that is filled with David's greatest life lessons. He looks back on his life and wants us to have those insights that he has gained from walking with the Lord by that faith since he was a young shepherd, the youngest of eight brothers.
Now, he's old, he wants to share that wisdom, those life lessons for us. Whenever someone is old and they've been there, they've done it, they've lived, they've been filled with wisdom, people are eager to hear what they have to say. To learn from them, to glean from that wisdom that they've collected and gathered through the many years of life experience.
I was thinking of an example. Many of you have heard the name Warren Buffett. Warren Buffett and his partner, Charlie Munger, they have an annual Berkshire Hathaway Shareholders Meeting and they take questions from the crowd. Literally, they will fill in coliseum, and they will be in there for hours as people hang on every word they have to say because they're old, they've done it, they're successful. People are like, "Oh, they’re Oracle of Omaha." They want to hear what he has to say.
Here's the thing, that's only about money and business. Oh, there's way more to life than that. David understood that. David understood how to bring his faith into every aspect of life. If you want to know how to take faith and live it, David would be one of those that you would say, "I want to hear what he has to say. He's done it." He was a captain and king, victorious in battle, inspiring in leadership. He knew how to trust God as a rock, a fortress, a refuge, and how to delight his soul in the Lord.
This Psalm is filled with wonderful, wonderful lessons of life, and we would do well to pay close attention to what David has to say so that we can live by our faith, victorious in adversity and trouble, and understanding how that our souls can be delighted. That's probably the one theme that rises above all other themes in David's life. Now, we know that because he told us in Psalm 27, and we read through that, where David said, "One thing I've asked from the Lord, one, that I have desired, that I would dwell in the House of the Lord all the days of my life to behold the beauty of the Lord."
That's the one thing that he desires above all things, that the Lord is beautiful on the soul, and it was the delight of David's life. Now David is old, and he says, "Take hold of this life lesson for yourself." Let's read. We're going to read in two sections today because it's very long. Psalm, we're not going to read all these verses as we go verse by verse, we've covered the rest.
I want us to start in Psalm 37:1. Again, life lessons, notice how we begins. "Do not fret because of evildoers. Don't be envious toward wrongdoers. No. They will wither quickly like grass, they will fade like the green herb. No. You trust in the Lord. Do good." This is life lesson. "Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness." There's a great phrase. We're going to look at that carefully. It is a picture of understanding how to walk in that faith. No, you cultivate faithfulness
Then verse 4 is famous. I love quoting it because it is David's greatest theme. "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 it." David is telling you, "He will do it. He will bring forth your righteousness like the light and your judgment as the noonday. No, rest in the Lord." Wage, in other words. Rest in the Lord. Be still. Stop all this striving. Wait, and wait patiently, longingly for Him.
Don't fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who carries out wicked schemes. No, cease from anger. No. Forsake wrath, don't fret, it only leads to evildoing on your part. Don't do it. For those who wait for the Lord, they will be blessed. They will inherit. Wait, God will do it. Great, great lessons. These are the verses I want us to look at first. We're going to look at other verses later, but I want us to know the life lessons. David is old. He's now telling us some of the great keys of his faith.
I. Cultivate Faithfulness
He tells us in verse 3, "Cultivate faithfulness." Faithfulness is something that you cultivate in your life. It's your picture of somebody like planting, nourishing, growing, cultivating that which they wish to harvest, to reap. You cultivate. That's the cultivating part. The faithfulness part is the steadfastness of that, doing that faithfully, cultivating, and then you will reap that which is good in your life.
See, this is one of the themes that comes out of this Psalm and out of David's life, and it is a theme that runs through the Scriptures. Understand that life has consequences, that you reap what you sow. Therefore, cultivate faithfulness because it's the theme that runs both ways, both for good and for evil. It's a great life lessons. In other words, be thoughtful about what you are cultivating because it will affect the outcome of what you then will be harvesting or reaping in your life.
See, you can't just will an outcome into existence, something that you want to achieve, no. You plant, you sow, you build, you cultivate, you cultivate faithfully, you cultivate steadfastly, David said. In other words, be very careful how you walk, how you cultivate. Make sure that you cultivate faithfulness. Then notice what he says from the very beginning, verse 1, "Do not fret or be anxious. No, don't do it," he says. It's a life lesson I’ve learned. Don't fret because of evil doers.
A. Don’t fret or be anxious
Why not? It can be so frustrating, so infuriating, so aggravating when someone does wrong to you. We understand, but please don't do it. You can be so infuriated, you're at your flesh, wants to rise up against them. David's life lesson, "No, don't do it. Don't fret because of those who are hurtful or evil doers." Then he gives several reasons. "Firstly, understand," he says, "That it will not end well for the wrongdoers." See that it will not end well for them. It's the principle of the harvest. They are cultivating anger or hurt or evil, and there's no faithfulness in it and will not go well for them. Know that in advance.
Notice, for example, verse 2, "They will wither quickly like the grass. They will fade like the green herb.” Then he says in verses 12-13, "The wicked plot against the righteous and gnashes at him with his teeth, but the Lord laughs at him for He sees that his day is coming." Take hold of that. Don't fret, don't be anxious, don't be aggravated. No, the Lord sees. The Lord knows his day is coming. God settles all matters. God settles all accounts. Don't fret. Don't let that upset your faith. No.
He says in verse 15, "Their sword will enter their own heart." In other words, their wrongful and hurting plotting is only going to come back on their life. That's the first reason. The second reason he says not to fret or be anxious is because it won't end well for you. Cultivate faithfulness. Do not allow the root of bitterness or anger to arise in the field that you are sowing. You are trying to sow.
He says, "Do not fret. Do not forsake anger or wrath." He says, "Don't fret, it only leads to wrongdoing on your part." Now, this reminds us of what James said in the New Testament, very similarly, James 1:19-20, he says, "Now, this you know my beloved brethren, that everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger, for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God." Now, see, it does not achieve, it will achieve something, but it's not the righteousness of God.
I was thinking of an illustration of this, when I was going through Bible college many, many years ago, I was in Bible college preparing to go into ministry and God provided an opportunity for us to manage apartments. It was great provision for a Bible college student. Had free rent and free utilities, a little stipend for groceries. I was like, "Yes." We managed 40 unit apartments. We had a particular tenant that just refused to be a good neighbor.
He was just difficult, cantankerous, angry. Anybody that bothered him, he would just make such a ruckus over that. If he didn't like the smells of the food cooking in the neighbor, he'd pound on their door. If he heard anything from the neighbor below, he'd stamp with his cowboy boots. We talked and we talked and we tried our best to convince him to be a good neighbor, but no matter what we said or did, he just refused to be a good neighbor. Finally, we realized we got to just remove him.
One day I posted an eviction, 30-day eviction notice. He comes home and he sees the eviction notice and calls me on the phone, "Hey, what's this?" I said, "Pretty sure it's an eviction notice." He said, "Hey, meet me in the back parking lot right now." I have to tell you, it caught me off guard a little. I laughed and I said, "Hey, I got over that stuff in eighth grade. Man, you can be in the parking lot by yourself, I'm not going to join you." "Oh, shall we let our attorneys handle this?" I said, "Fine, let our attorneys handle this. Meanwhile, you need to be out in 30 days." Then just to be spiteful, he removed all of the light bulbs before he left.
You know what his greatest punishment is? He has to take himself with him everywhere he goes. Imagine, what is he sowing? What is he cultivating in life? Everywhere he goes he's doing this. You can imagine, everywhere, all the relationships, everything. Everybody that bothers him, he is like this. What is he cultivating? Anger, wrath, bitterness, sorrows. What's he going to harvest? What's he going to reap? David says, "No good will come from this." You'll not read good of that.
I remember when we, of course, adopted our boys, one of them came from a home for emotionally disturbed children. He had so much anger. He told us very straightforward that he was angry, hurt, angry, mean at himself and everybody. Now, he's turned out to be a fine, wonderful young man. In those days, oh, we had so many discussions and talks about it and the theme that I wanted him to see, over and over I would say to him, "Look, you must learn to master your anger or your anger will master you. It will master your life. You must learn to master it or it will master you."
B. Trust in the Lord and do good
That reminds me what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 6:12, "I will not be mastered by anything." There's a life lesson that David is giving to us. Don't fret, don't be anxious, don't be aggravated. No, God settles all matters. Notice what he says next, "No. You trust in the Lord and do good." In other words, cultivate faithfulness by doing good while you are trusting in the Lord. If you believe that the Lord is the blesser of your life and that you'll reap what you sow, well, then do good and you'll reap that which is good.
Cultivate faithfulness. This is a lesson of life from David. No, cultivate it. It reminds us of what Paul wrote in Galatians 6:9, "Do not lose heart in doing good." See, steadfastness in it. Don't lose heart in it, for in due time, you will reap if you don't grow weary in it. Now, that's the summation of what he introduced to us in Galatians 6:7-8. That's what I call the principle of the harvest. You’ll want to dog-ear that page because it's a great principle of life.
He says in Galatians 6, "Do not be deceived. God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. The one who sows to the flesh will from the flesh reap corruption." Life lesson. "The one who sows through the spirit will reap from the spirit life, even eternal life." It is a life lesson. Notice how he begins. Those are very, very strong words there in Galatians 6, where he says, "Do not be deceived." No, God is not mocked. It's a principle set down by the Almighty. No, it's a principle. God's not mocked. That principle will stand.
See, a person mocks when they have derision, when they disregard it, they have no respect for it at all. It's like they're saying, "Whatever."
Yet, whether you recognize it or not, it's a principle that will stand. Now we can even add to that principle. You reap in the manner of which you sow. If you sow corn, you're going to reap corn. If you sow anger, you're going to reap from the anger. If you sow discontent, you will reap discontent. If you sow in the flesh, you'll reap from the flesh. Then, we know, of course, that you reap more than you sow. In fact, Hosea 8:7, "They sowed the wind, but they're going to rape the whirlwind." This is a lesson. Oh, if a person could understand this when they're young.
See, a lot of young people, they have a really hard time understanding consequences. They have a hard time understanding that their actions are the cultivation of life, that they are producing something that they will reap in the future. If they only knew-- See, I'll tell you how many people, how many people have said to me, "If I had known what it would cost me, I wouldn't have done it. If I had only known how much it was going to cost me, I wouldn't have done it." How many would have the same? "Oh, I look back at life, if I had known, I wouldn't have done it."
II. Delight Yourself in the Lord
See, that's the principle that David is giving us. I want you to see that when you cultivate faithfulness, it will come to you. You'll reap, believe me, He's a trust God in it. You'll see. That's why he gives us this wonderful principle in the next verse, "Delight yourself in the Lord. Cultivate faithfulness." Cultivate this by delighting yourself. It is everything to do with your soul. Would you notice the emphasis on your choosing, your choice in the matter? As for you, choose to delight your soul in the Lord. How?
Actually, we get a picture of this in Psalm 36. They're just interwoven together. It's really one of the most beautiful pictures, where he says, "Drink fully from the river life." Beautiful, poetic. Notice Psalm 36:8-9 how David writes it, "They drink their fill of the abundance of your house." Drink fully. Notice? "You give them to drink of the river of your delights." How beautiful is that? A river full, wide, flowing, fresh, refreshing. "Drink fully and of the river of your delights, for with you is the fountain of life. In your light we see light."
A. Drink fully from the river of life
Whatever you partake of in your soul will have a direct impact on your life. Be thoughtful about what you are partaking. That's why drinking is that beautiful picture because you are bringing it into your soul. See, now, I think one of the most powerful pictures of that has to be of when Jesus had an encounter with a woman at a well, she's a Samaritan woman. This is a famous story out of John. John 4 tells us that a woman from Sychar came to this well where Jesus was resting. He was by himself. The disciples had gone into town to seek provisions.
The woman comes to draw water. Jesus says to her, "Woman, give me a drink," and then she says to Him, "Now, how is it that you being a Jew ask me for a drink since I'm a Samaritan woman?" See, the Samaritans were hated and despised by Jews. "How is it that you asked me a Samaritan for a drink?" This is John 4:10, Jesus said to her, "If you knew the gift of God and who it is who says to you, 'Give me a drink,' then you would've asked Him and He would give you living water." She says, "Sir, give me this living water." He says to her, "Go call your husband."
Now, right away you might think, "Well, that's a very strange thing to say to someone who just says, 'Sir, give me living water." Well, He is going to give her living water, but first, He's going to show her that there is no life in the well from which she has been drinking." "Go call your husband." "I have no husband." He says, "You have answered well that you have no husband because you have had five husbands and the man you are now with is not your husband."
There are many people like this woman. Her life is a mess. She's had five failed marriages, and now she's given up even trying that anymore. She thought she could find life there in relationships, but they were all messed up. Instead, all she fell into was pain, and emptiness, and loneliness. You can imagine how many times she went out under the stars at night in anguish, crying out, "What's wrong with me? I failed at every relationship. I'm despised and hated by everyone. I'm lonely. I'm lost. Everything I touch fails. What's wrong with me? What's wrong with my life?"
But then she said, "But I know when Messiah comes, He will have the answer." There she's talking to, "Is He the one?" See, this reminds me of that worship song that we sing. This is one of my favorites, O Come to the Altar. I'm going to just read some of the lyrics to you.
Are you hurting and broken within,
Overwhelmed by the weight of your sin?
Jesus is calling.
Have you come to the end of yourself?
Do you thirst for a drink from the well?
Jesus is calling.
Come to the altar.
The father's arms are open wide.
Forgiveness was bought with
The precious blood of Jesus Christ.
Oh, what a savior.
Isn't He wonderful?
Sing hallelujah, Christ is risen.
Beautiful, beautiful picture of that invitation to the ones who have come to the end of themselves. I thirst along for a drink that would satisfy. That's why Jesus said John 4:13 and 14, Jesus said, "Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I give shall never thirst, and the water that I give shall become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life." That is a beautiful picture. Verse 4, "Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires--" Notice, "He will give you the desires of your heart." Desires is what you desire, seek, long for, searching.
See, so many people, they're pursuing their longing. There's a great searching. People are looking for something to fill their soul with joy, happiness, meaning, purpose. They're longing, they're searching. He says, "I'm going to give you a lesson of life if you will drink fully from the river of His delights." If you will delight yourself in the Lord, you'll find all that you are desiring, all that the soul longs for. Drink fully. Let me give you a life lesson, drink fully. I know where it is found, and it is found by drinking of the river of His delights.
B. And God will delight in you
God wants your soul delighted. That's what He says. Notice the next section I want to read to you, where God then shows us you drink from the river of God's delight and you walk in that path cultivating faithfulness, God will delight in you. Oh, it's a beautiful picture. Let's read it starting in verse 23. Go back to Psalm 37, starting in verse 23, "The steps of a man are established by the Lord, ordained the way of God, and God the Lord will delight in him, in his way. When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong."
He won't fall off the cliff. No, because the Lord is the one who holds his hand. "I have been young, now I'm old, and I have never seen the righteous forsaken. Never, or his descendants begging bread." No. All day long He's gracious and lends, and His descendants are a blessing. In other words, He's abundantly blessed. He's just so blessed that He's generous even, gracious. He says, "Depart from evil, do good, and then you'll abide forever, for the Lord loves justice and He does not forsake His Godly ones." No, they're preserved forever. Descendants of the wicked, they are cut off, but the righteous they will inherit the land to blessings in favor and they will dwell in it forever.
Then verse 30 is beautiful, "The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom." This will be the result in your life. You will be filled. You delight and drink from the river of His delight, what will come out of you, you will utter words that are wise. Wisdom. Your tongue will speak that which is right, just, because the law of God is in His heart and His steps do not slip. All right. Those are the verses I want us to see where He is showing us now God will delight in you when you know that He is ordaining your way, He is establishing your steps.
David is an old man now. He can look back over his life. Now he can see it. He can see it so clearly now. "God was the one. I see it now. God ordered my way. God established my steps. God ordained. He opened the doors. He made the path. I see it now. God did it." He's saying this so that you would trust in it. "God will do it for you. I'm an old man. I look back, I see it now. God did it. He ordained my way. He established my steps. He will do it for you."
Trust in the Lord and He will do the same. God will ordain your steps. They will be established by the Lord into that which is good, the favor, the blessing, because God is delighting in your path as you are cultivating faithfulness, as you are walking by that, God delights to pour out His favor on your life. See, I'm old enough now that I can look back and I can see it so clearly. I could never have told you in advance how God would move, how God would bless, the doors that He would open for me, the steps that He would establish for me.
There have been so many miracles in my life, so many ways that God has blessed. Many of you know my story, I would never have known, I could never have predicted what God did in my life. Many of you know my story. I was raised in extreme poverty. My father was an alcoholic, angry, contentious. There was chaos and dysfunction all in my growing-up years. Statistically, people that are raised in environments like that don't do very well in life. That's statistics, but God did take hold of my life. God ordained my way. He showed me early in life that He is the delight of the soul. If you will delight in the Lord, He will establish your path. He will open the doors.
I tell you what, I am so thankful what God has done in my life. I am so, so blessed. What a privilege it is to be able to pastor a church like this. I have a wonderful marriage. I love my kids. I am so, so blessed, and I give God all the glory for it all. Amen. Amen. Amen. David is saying, "I want that for you." Would you know the miracles that God will do, the ways that God will prove His favor? I'll tell you what, I can literally write a book on the way that God has established my steps with His favorite and with His love.
Oh, do not get me wrong, there have been troubles, many troubles, but God has always been there. In fact, He says it right there in Psalm verse 24, "If you fall, you will not be hurled headlong." No. God will be in there. He is the one who holds your hand. He will establish you on the rock and put you on that path that He's established. Then lastly, when God establishes your way, ordaining the steps of your life, when you cultivate faithfulness, when you drink from the river of His delight, it will bring forth wonderful results in your life.
What will come back to you will be so amazing, so wonderful. He pictures it for us in verses 30-31. Notice what he says, "The mouth of the righteous will utter forth wisdom." Words of Wisdom will come off of your mouth. Why? Because he says the word of the Lord is in his heart. He speaks that which is good and right. Everyone will see it.
In other words, when you're working the steps that God has ordained, and you're cultivating faithfulness along the way, and you're drinking from the river of His delights, God will increase your stature, He will increase your soul, He will increase your wisdom, He will increase your stature in life. It is a great reward and a wonderful blessing to have God's Word in your heart so that you can speak of the abundance of what God has done.
I'm reminded of what job-- When we were studying the book of Job, we saw this in his life, where-- Notice, Job 23:11-12, where he writes, "My foot has held fast to His path." Now you see right here a direct correlation to Psalm 37, "My foot has held fast to His path. I have kept His way. I have not turned aside. I've not departed from the command of His lips. I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food." Job delighted in the Almighty, he says. He treasured God's word more than his necessary food and God was increasing him in stature and in wisdom. God was building in him the construct.
See, that's it. When you're faithfully steadfastly walking in the path that God has established with His favor and His blessing, when you're drinking of the river of His delight, when your soul is delighted in the Almighty, knowing God will construct and build in you as He did in Job the construct of integrity, of wisdom, of stature. It's the posts, the beams, the steel, the rocks, the strength of integrity and character of the soul. God builds that when you delight in the Almighty, when you drink from the river of His delight, when you walk in the path that God has established for you, and then the result is something that everyone can see.
Everyone can see it when you walk in that steadfastly over the course of years. Everyone can see it. It's evident in your life. This is why Job said, Job 29:7-11, he said, "When I went out to the gate of the city, when I took my seat in the square, young men saw me and hid themselves." In other words, they were intimidated. "Old men would rise, stand on their feet. Princes stopped talking. Voices of nobles was hushed. When they heard, they called me blessed." That's the value of the soul which God builds. He constructs.
This is David saying, "Look, I want to give this great truth to you. I tell you that God will build it. You cultivate faithfulness. You walk in the path that God has established by His favor when you delight in Him. When you drink from the river of God's delight, God will establish this. He will build this. He would pour the increase of your stature. It will become the poster being, the steel, the rocks of the strength of your life, your integrity, your character of your soul.
God will build it when you delight in Him, when you drink from the river of His delight. Oh, what it will bring forth in your life is amazing. You'll see it. Man, you'll look back on your life and see it. "God did that. He built that. God established my path, I see it now." You'll be so thankful. You will be so thankful that you drank from the river, fully drank from the river of God's delight. What it will do to your soul words cannot express. "I want this for you," David says. God says in His word, "I will do it. Trust. I will do it. I will delight to do it. Drink fully."
Let's pray. Lord, we do thank You. We're amazed. You have proven Yourself. You've shown us a great truth that if we would just cultivate faithfulness, if we would just walk in the steps that You have ordained, if we would just drink from the river of Your delights, oh, what God would build. Oh, what God would do that we can look back in our lives and see it. God, You have been the greatest blessing in my life. It begins with that decision to delight yourself in the Lord, to drink fully from the river of His delight.
Church, how many would say that to the Lord today, "I want to drink fully from the river of His delight. I want to be filled and overflowing. I want to walk in the steps that God has ordained. Construct that in me. Build that in me. God, I want to drink fully from the river of Your delights"? Would you just raise your hand as a way of expressing that desire to the Lord? I want to drink fully from the river of Your delights. Oh, do that wonderful work in me, Lord. God, we thank You, we honor You, we praise Your name for showing us the way to work in the joy of the Lord. We praise Your name in Jesus' name.