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A second scripture, which is, one of the most misused scriptures in the Bible Psalms 37:4

Psa 37:4 Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.

When I first became a Christian, I began attending a Pentecostal Church. Much emphasis was placed on the gifts of the Spirit. There was constant talk of looking for miracles or receiving something in the natural from God. I had one Pastor who claimed that you could walk in perfect health if you had enough faith in God and was obedient to the things of God. He portrayed himself to be one who was being blessed by God concerning perfect health. It was however ironic, that he wore glasses and took medication to regulate his thyroid, all the while claiming perfect health while using the verse above.

I was eventually recommended by the congregation to be placed into the office of elder and participated in teaching the congregation. After having taken a course in hermeneutics, I began to flesh out the meaning of the verses I worked through. This verse was one of those verses.

What I want to do in this post, is to show what it means to delight thyself in the Lord and what desires of the heart will be granted to those who actually have a delight for the things of God.

Many begin at the verse they are interpreting and expound on it from that point, however, I like to go back to the beginning of the chapter and work my way down to the verse in question. I will just give some passing comments as I work down to verse 4.

Psa 37:1 A Psalm of David. Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity.

This Psalm is a Psalm of instruction to the righteous to not ‘fret’ (Lit., incense not thyself: be not angry or indignant or discontented) against the wicked though they seem to prosper and live in peace. Asaph had fallen into discontent and envy of the wicked in his Psalm chapter 73. It wasn’t till he went into the sanctuary of God, that he understood their end Ps. 73:17. Howbeit, David understands the end of the wicked and therefore instructs his hearers and readers of this Psalm not to be discontent and envious of the wicked because ‘For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb.vs. 2.

Psa 37:3 Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.

Trust in the LORD…..David’s instruction is to trust in the Lord, not men, who are fading and perishing like the grass, nor in riches, which are uncertain things; but trust in the Lord who is everlasting strength and in whom holds everlasting riches for those who place their trust in him.…..and do good…..by keeping God’s commandments and walk in uprightness before him, specifically in doing good to others and in acts of beneficence to the poor…..so shalt thou dwell in the land,….this speaks to the land of Canaan, but points especially to that better country which Abraham sought by faith…. and verily thou shalt be fed…..or shall have the things which you need, as will be shown below.[1]

Psa 37:4 Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.

David who was a man after God’s own heart, delighted himself in the Lord, walking before him upright in all his ways. This is seen in Psalm 122 whereby David saith: I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD.‘ Therefore, even though David was King and lived as Kings do, nevertheless David’s heart was towards the things of God and expresses it in the words found in Psalm 145: ‘I will extol thee, my God, O king; and I will bless thy name for ever and ever. Every day will I bless thee; and I will praise thy name for ever and ever. Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; and his greatness is unsearchable.

Just as David delighted himself in the Lord, even so are we to do the same. Once we take the Lord and the things concerning him as our delight, then our minds and hearts change.

Many take ‘the desires of the heart‘ to be natural things or things with which we lust after. This is because their hearts and desires are turned earthward, instead of heavenward. Even so, the Word of Faith preachers have subverted hearts and minds by boasting of the riches of this world. They speak of their new Ferraris and the mansions in which they dwell as blessings which God has granted because they have supposedly delighted in the things of the Lord and received the desires of their hearts.[2] They call on men to sow seed offerings in order to receive the things we need in this life.

However, Christ tells us in Mat 6:31-34Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself.

And Paul reiterates this by telling us in Colossians 3:1 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.

As we begin to seek Christ and the things of his kingdom our hearts change. They turn from earthly things to heavenly things. Our hearts become fixed on the things which please the Lord. Our desires move towards the things which concern Christ and his kingdom. We begin to delight in the salvation of souls. We begin to delight in prayer for the sick, feeble, and weak. We begin to desire the attendance of Church, the hearing of the Words of God, and the singing of hymns to his glory. Our hearts become saturated with wanting his ways and desires to be our ways and desires and our old ways and desires are discarded.

Therefore, this Psalm is not speaking of desires for earthly things per se, but is speaking of desires which stem from a delighting of oneself in the Lord. Does this exclude desiring things that are of this earthly sphere? No. However, even those things which we desire in the flesh will be things that glorify God and that benefit us as we live this life. Charles Spurgeon offers a great comment on desiring things in the natural realm:

When a man’s delight is in God, then his desires are of such a sort that God may be

glorified in the granting of them, and the man himself profited by the receiving of them.[3]

Tell me what you think in the comment section below.

Footnotes:

[1] John Gill- Commentary on Psalms 37:3, with a few thoughts of mine added therein

[2] These Word of Faith ministers are not given these things because they have delighted themselves in the things of the Lord, but on the contrary, they are giving these extravagant things in the flesh as a judgment on them. They shall be a curse to them. For if you are covetous, then God will usually heap riches on you, so that your judgment will be more severe.

[3] Charles H. Spurgeon- ‘Sunshine in the Heart,’ A Sermon on Psalm 37:4, delivered on Sunday morning, June 15th, 1862

One of the most misused scriptures in the Bible, Matt 7:1

April 28, 2020 7 comments

A while back I was on social media and ran across a thread concerning Joel Osteen. I believe, as far as I can remember that someone was asking if Osteen was a true minister of God, or something to that effect. So, being the Bible reader which I am, I commented and plainly stated, ‘No.’ Of course, after I replied, I had to defend myself against all kinds of attacks, whereby I was being accused of judging Osteen’s salvation.

The main scripture used against me, of course, was Matt 7:1. I was told that I could not judge Osteen’s theology or lack thereof. This is a misuse of the verse and my opponents did not have enough Biblical insight to rightly interpret scripture, nor to rightly understand the true interpretation of Matt 7:1. On top of that, their entire argument was self refuting because if I can’t judge Osteen’s theology, then they have no right to judge mine.

This verse left in context does not forbid all and every kind of judgment. What Christ is condemning is all rash, censorious, hypocritical, self-righteous or other kind of unfair judgments. This the Jews were inclined towards in their religious lives. This is especially true of the self-righteous Pharisees who were quick to cast the first stones in judgment, but would devour widows houses and would search sea and land to make one proselyte, but then would make him twofold more the child of Hell than themselves.

In context, Christ is forbidding a hypocritical judging of others. For how can one say to his brother, ‘Here let me get the splinter out of your eye,’ when they have a log in their own eye. Christ goes on to say that after one has removed the log out of their eye, then they could see clearly to get the splinter out of their brother’s eye. Also if Christ was speaking against any and all types of judgment, then it is ironic that in the same chapter he tells us to beware of false prophets, which come to us in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Now how could someone determine who a false prophet is, if he couldn’t judge? Also Christ told the Jews in John 7:24 to not judge according to appearance and that when they do judge they are to judge righteous judgment.

So what I am going to do here is just list three groups who misuse this verse. There may be others who misuse this verse, but I will only focus on these three and then I will provide some commentary from learned men of God.

Mat 7:1 Judge not, that ye be not judged.

1. This scripture is abused by those who would not have their sins examined by the light of scripture. (This speaketh to the backslider)

2. This scripture is abused by those who would not have their doctrine brought under the light of scripture. (This speaketh to false teachers and those who twist scripture to their profit)

3. This scripture is abused by those who claim that we should be tolerant of others lifestyles and to each his own.

First, to examine the scripture:

Mat 7:1 Judge not, that ye be not judged.

This scripture is not condemning all judgment, but in context is a prohibition against one particular type of judgment; specifically a hypocritical judging of others while we ourselves live in worse sin. However, if our lives align with scripture according to the grace of God given us, then we are to judge righteous judgment. We are also to discern and judge the doctrine which comes forth from a ministers lips. We are to be like the Bereans and search the scriptures daily to see if these things are so.

There are many things the Christian is called to judge, however to be brief I will only list two:

1. Paul declares that if two brothers are in dispute one with one another, in the Church, then set one over them, who is least esteemed in the Church and let him judge the matter. 1Co 6:2 Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?

2. Scripture declares: 1Co 5:12 For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? If a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.

What this scripture is condemning:

It condemns rash, judgment or interpreting men’s words and deed in the worst sense. Which was common among the Jews. It condemns hypocritical judgment or judging someone who is living with a little sin, while you are living in the pig pen of sin. First cast out the beam (the great sin) in thine own eye, then you can see clearly to get the mote (the little sin) out of thy brother’s eye.

Now to the 3 people above who misuse this scripture:

1. This scripture is abused by those who would not have their sins examined by the light of scripture. (This speaketh to the backslider)

Are not God’s ministers called to reprove thee when thou art playing the harlot against Christ? Would you cause them more anguish of heart by constantly having to rebuke thee because you will not submit yourself to those who care for your soul?

Heb 13:17 Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.

2. This scripture is abused by those who would not have their doctrine brought under the light of scripture. (This speaketh to false teachers and those who twist scripture to their profit)

The scripture saith: Mat 7:15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

Thou false prophet, this scripture is in the same chapter as judge not, that ye be not judged. So how are we to know who you are, except we judge what comes from thy mouth? What, are God’s ministers supposed to sit back while you make merchandise of the weak and feeble among God’s people?

The scripture saith: 1Jn 4:1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.

And again: Tit 1:10-13 For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake. One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, The Cretians are alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies. This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith;

And finally to the last group:

3. This scripture is abused by those who claim that we should be tolerant of others lifestyles and to each his own.

What do you think that your blaspheming God and rebelling against your Creator should not be called out? Living in the grossest of sins and not wanting anyone to reprove you of it.

The scripture saith:

2Ti 4:2-4 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

Now for several commentators on this verse:

Mat 7:1. Judge not.—The word κρίνειν here undoubtedly implies unkind, condemnatory judgment (Theophylact, Kuinoel, Tholuck, and others), as appears from the opposite clause, ἵνα μὴκρι θῆτε. Meyer denies this without reason, although the simile about the mote and the beam, proves that the expression cannot simply mean condemnation. It is general. Meyer is right in controverting the idea, that the word κριθῆτε refers exclusively to the judgment of other men (Erasmus, etc.). He applies it to the judgment to come; but Mat 7:6 proves that judgment on earth precedes the judgment of the last day. Uncharitable judgment receives its meed here as well as there. Comp. Mat 5:22; Mat 6:14; the parable in Mat 18:23; Jam 2:13. Heubner: “Judge not. This neither refers (unconditionally) to our private judgment, nor to the official expression of our opinion which we may be bound in duty to give (which, however, may run into the sinful extreme here condemned). Least of all does it apply to the sentence pronounced by a judge (who should always bear in mind that he is under the holy law of God), but to those uncalled-for judgments which are neither dictated by duty, nor prompted by love. Κρίνειν therefore is here equivalent to κατακρίνειν.” Comp. Luke 3

Lang’s Commentary; J. P. Lange (1864-1880; Philip Schaff English Translation)

Judge not … – This command refers to rash, censorious, and unjust judgment. See Rom_2:1. Luke Luk_6:37 explains it in the sense of “condemning.” Christ does not condemn judging as a magistrate, for that, when according to justice, is lawful and necessary. Nor does he condemn our “forming an opinion” of the conduct of others, for it is impossible “not” to form an opinion of conduct that we know to be evil. But what he refers to is a habit of forming a judgment hastily, harshly, and without an allowance for every palliating circumstance, and a habit of “expressing” such an opinion harshly and unnecessarily when formed. It rather refers to private judgment than “judicial,” and perhaps primarily to the customs of the scribes and Pharisees.

Albert Barnes Notes on the Bible

Mat 7:1 Judge not, that ye be not judged. This is not to be understood of any sort of judgment; not of judgment in the civil courts of judicature, by proper magistrates, which ought to be made and pass, according to the nature of the case; nor of judgment in the churches of Christ, where offenders are to be called to an account, examined, tried, and dealt with according to the rules of the Gospel; nor of every private judgment, which one man may make upon another, without any detriment to him; but of rash judgment, interpreting men’s words and deeds to the worst sense, and censuring them in a very severe manner; even passing sentence on them, with respect to their eternal state and condition. Good is the advice given by the famous Hillell (u), who lived a little before Christ’s time.

John Gill

So this ought to settle the matter, however, I do not believe it will because many will not take the time to do the necessary work in order to properly exegete scripture.

Tell me what you all think in the comment section below.