The Bible reading plan that I follow divides each day’s reading across four different areas; Psalms and Wisdom, Pentateuch and History, Chronicles and Prophets, and Gospels and Epistles. I really like it. I like it because it ensures a balanced daily diet of both the old and new testaments. I also like it because sometimes I’m surprised by common themes that seem to reveal themselves as I work through the scheduled readings for the day. This morning’s reading contained one of those surprise connections.
First, in Psalm 20 the verse that jumped out at me was:
May he grant you your heart’s desire
and fulfill all your plans! Psalm 20:4
This got me thinking about the fact that this isn’t the only time Psalms references this idea that God will give you the desires of your heart. This idea of God giving us the desires of our heart can be very comforting and inspiring, don’t you think? But what if our desires are impure or not aligned with the character and will of God? What would it look like or how would your life or the lives of those around you be different if God gave you the desires of your heart and fulfilled all your plans?
I let those thoughts bounce around in the back of my head as I moved on to my next section of reading in 1 Samuel 8 where the Israelites reveal the desires of their heart. They want Samuel to appoint for them a king to judge them like “all the other nations”. They wanted to conform to the patterns of the world around them. In effect, they were rejecting the very God who had been so merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.
The LORD instructs Samuel to listen and obey the voice of the people but first, he is to warn them about what they are getting in to. Samuel returns to the people and paints a very dire but very realistic picture of what life will be like under the authority of a king. Despite that fact, the people continue to voice their desire for a king to judge them and go before them and fight their battles.
And the LORD said to Samuel, “Obey their voice and make them a king.” 1 Samuel 8:22
Just what I was worried about. The fact that the LORD wants to grant the desires of our heart sounds great in theory. But not if your desires are selfish, shortsighted and sinful.
This morning’s reading didn’t let the story play out to see if Samuel’s warnings come true. But I don’t need to see anymore to know that my encouragement and application from this morning’s reading is to ensure that before I ask the LORD to grant me the desires of my heart that I first ask Him to search me and to know my heart. That the LORD would try me and know my thoughts. That He would see and reveal any grievous way in me and lead me in the way everlasting. That He, by the power of the Holy Spirit, would allow me to desire the things that He desires. That I would trust in Him to withhold the desires of my heart if those desires would be less than His best for me and for His glory.