Every Thought Captive

Oh, He could be the one…oh He is!

Fret not yourself because of evildoers;
   be not envious of wrongdoers!
For they will soon fade like the grass
   and wither like the green herb.
Trust in the LORD, and do good;
   dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
Delight yourself in the LORD,
   and He will give you the desires of your heart.

Psalm 37:1-4

“Fret not” and “delight yourself.” Is fretting the opposite of delighting? Is delighting in the LORD the remedy for fretting?

So, what is fretting? Fretting occurs when we repeatedly focus our attention on the wrong object. David tells us not to fret over the evildoer or be envious of the wrongdoer. We can spend an hour looking at the news, fretting over Muslims who decapitate children in honor of their false god…or focusing on an elected leader who is purposely leading us away from trusting in the one true God. David says we are not to fret over the evil or wrongdoer (in his typical metaphorical fashion) because evildoers will fade and wither like grass. The evildoer is a temporal object, so David pushes us to accept that those who appear to be in control are not ultimately in control.

Delight is not the tingle of excitement that accompanies your first date; well actually, it kind of is like that. The Hebrew word for delight is a word that means to be delicate or feminine, to be dependent upon and to derive one’s pleasure from Him. On a date, some girls think, “This could be my knight in shining armor… This could be the one who takes care of me… This could be the one with whom I can be vulnerable and delicate because he is trustworthy, capable, and will always be committed to me.” There is a sheer joy that accompanies us when we find the person who is so qualified and committed. That excitement can make us giggle with delight.

But David uses the command form when he tells us to delight in the LORD. How can he command us to delight? David is commanding that we derive our utmost pleasure from the LORD. His corrective to fretting is “Delight yourselves in the LORD,” so the LORD is the correct object for our focus.

The word in our English Bible for the Hebrew word Yahweh is written as LORD, with all capital letters. Yahweh is one of the ways God identifies Himself, as seen in Exodus 3:15-16, when God reveals Himself to Moses as Yahweh. Yahweh means the always God—the God who always was, who is now, and who always will be.

Tying what we’ve learned about fretting and delighting together, David’s argument in this Psalm is to not fret by looking to the temporal evildoers, but instead, delight yourself in the eternal, permanent God.

One more thought on this revelation of God as Yahweh. God is saying to His people quite a few things when He identifies Himself as Yahweh:

  • I am the eternal God who always was. I never had a beginning. I have always been.
  • I will never have an end. I did not come into being, and therefore I will never cease to be.
  • There is no reality outside of Me. I have made all things, and even though the known universe is expansive, it is as nothing when compared to Me.
  • I am totally self-existent and dependent on no one nor no thing. I have complete joy and satisfaction in and of Myself.
  • I am perfect. If I were to change, it would be for the worse because I am absolutely beautiful and good and true.
  • I am both Creator and Sustainer, therefore there is nothing out of My control.
  • And lastly, in the context of Exodus 3, God is saying, “I am always with you… I am now, and I always will be.”

David turns us from fretting over the temporal to trusting the eternal when he commands us to delight in the LORD. He may command us because when the Spirit reveals the LORD to us, we become delicate, frail, and dependent. We recognize that we are but creature and that He is Creator. We see that we are bent by nature and that only He can make us straight again. Yes, we have been found by the One in whom all of our dreams have been fulfilled. Oh, delight in the LORD for He is the One!

Doing Good…
Before we end this little devotional, notice verse 3 of our Psalm, “Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.” Doing good works doesn’t earn us salvation. Doing good while we are here on earth manifests the good of His eternal Kingdom. Remember how Jesus went about doing good while He was here on earth? He Himself says it this way, “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). As we delight in the LORD as our greatest hope, we manifest our hope in Him by doing good. Counter the evildoer by being a good doer. The children of darkness do evil; the children of light do good.

Even now, as we go about doing good, look into the skies and delight in the fact that He will return to make all things new and take us so that we may be with Him forever. Oh yes, He is the One! Delight in the LORD for He is the One!

About the Author

Photograph of Tim Tinsley

Tim Tinsley

Senior Pastor

First Presbyterian Church of Chattanooga

Tim was raised in Phoenix, Ariz., and received a BA in Psychology from Wheaton College in 1980 and later his Masters of Biblical Studies from Dallas Theological Seminary. He and his wife Laura have been married since July 2006, and together have seven children and four grandchildren. 

Tim's role at First Presbyterian Church in Chattanooga, Tenn., began in March 2010. Previousy, he served for 18 years at Park Cities Presbyterian Church in Dallas.