“Delight Yourself In The Lord”
Eric Sipe, Pastor of Evangelism
What a year 2009 has been. It is now very quickly drawing to an end. For some of us it was a memorable year—full of many surprises. God was so good to bring into our church family a number of brand new people from around the community. This increase has been a real blessing in so many ways. We have new friends—but more importantly, we have found new glimpses of the glory of God as we each are created in His image and bear witness of that image to all we come in contact with. So, when new folks come and join in with us, we catch a greater vision of God and all of His glory. This is a thrill!
Psa 34:8 says, “Taste and see, that the Lord is good!” In this command there is a purposeful reaching out to God—a pursuing of Him that is on purpose, and for a purpose. This purpose is to ingest all of God and take a personal part of sensing God and savoring God as we would savor a delicious, succulent roast beef and potatoes. It is a plunging yourself into the very hands of God and then “seeing” Him who is invisible. This seeing is proving God—it is putting God to the test, so to speak—recognizing God’s promises and putting them to the test. Is God really God? Yes, of course, that is understood—no, no, my friend, God doesn’t like to be merely ‘understood.’
Taste Him, See Him, and notice, recognize, and become cognizant of that God not only IS, but He IS GOOD! To the self-centered, unbeliever, God can’t be good. Someone who ‘ordains’ suffering can’t be good. This is because self-centered living, unbelief, is shortsighted. People who don’t trust are people who have very few taste buds. They are picky eaters—not in a good sense that they will only eat what is good for them, but they will only eat what they like, not knowing that they are missing out on a whole array of food at God’s banquet table. These people will not enjoy the bittersweet taste of having to trust God because of suffering. They will not grasp the delicacies of answered supplications because of the sorrows of life that have been earnestly prayed over and God has graciously answered with His perfect will.
Our God is nothing, if He is not good! Has this been your experience with our Great God this year? God wants us to know Him—34 times in the OT He says this. But now, we see another level to this knowledge – delighting in the Lord. (READ Psalm 37:4) There are two observations that I would like to make before we get into the text.
1. God and all of His glory impacts us emotionally! This is a bit of surprise to many perhaps today. To many, church, religion, and Bible is a very morose, heavy thing that is a mere duty—and so they do not find delight in it. It is something that is endured, it is a weariness, a necessary evil—let’s just go and get it over with – let’s just do church. This is how they approach church, prayer, Christian friends, and holy living. God certainly is not what life is all about–He is not the end, He is merely a means to an end. The end or goal of life is my own happiness and success, and church, God, religion, is simply one of the many things I do for my own goal of happiness and success. However, this is not the way God has designed it. God wants us to find our greatest delight in Him. Our emotions should burst forth from within with delight when we see Him. To delight means ‘to take pleasure in’ or ‘to bend (Job 40:17—‘He bends His tail like a cedar’—speaking of the Behemoth) or ‘to incline’—to bend toward like a dog toward his master. It is an emotionally packed word that deals with what is going on within a man. God and all of His glory must have impact on us emotionally—it is delight.
2. God lavishes His desires on those who delight in Him. There are some tensions in Scripture that we must learn to live within and this is one of them. We are to be people of self-denial and willing to be abased and become a servant. And yet, at the same time we are to pursue our desires in Christ through our delight in Him. John Piper calls this Christian Hedonism—(lovers of pleasure). We are to pursue our pleasure and fill all of our pleasure in loving, adoring, honoring and worshipping Christ and God will fill our hearts with His desires! You see, Christianity is not some woeful, drudgery-filled, chain-up-and-fettered religion. Instead, it is a life that does as he desires and pursues his desires passionately because when we have our delight in God, He fills us with His desires and when we live for God we do then what we desire! Our desires are holy, heavenward, and divine and we are free to pursue them passionately. We, of all people are to be passionate people about God and all of His glory.
I want now to ask several questions then about these two observations. Notice with me….
I. What is this delight? This is not a word that is easily explained—I have tried to give it shape in our first observation, but let’s look a little closer. One writer says this of delight: It is joy, yet is it more, it is joy running over; it is rest, but such a rest as allows of the utmost activity of every passion of the soul. Delight! it is mirth without its froth. Delight! it is peace, yet it is more than that: it is peace celebrated with festivity, with all the streamers hanging in the streets and all the music playing in the soul. Delight! Whereunto shall I compare it? It is a stray word that belongs to the language of Paradise, and when the holy words of Eden flew away to heaven at the fall, this one being entangled in the silken meshes of the net of the first promise, was retained on earth to sing in believers’ ears. This is what delight is—this is how we should find our relationship with our Lord—To be in His presence, to be with His people, to be in fellowship with Him, to read His book, to earnestly pray and commune with Him and to do so in a way that is not like anything else that we think or do. We should come to worship because we delight in doing so! C.S. Lewis made the comment one time, “We are far too easily pleased.” In other words, we have allowed ourselves to find our greatest pleasures in small, mundane, earthy things, rather than the glories of a transcendent, omniscient, eternal God who created these earthy and mundane things. Something is wrong—we are like little children who prefer a matchbox rather than driving a new Porsche. Delight is simply not delight if it is out of duty. One writer wrote this, “Suppose a husband asks his wife if he must kiss her good night. Her answer is, ‘You must, but not that kind of must.’ What she means is this: ‘Unless a spontaneous affection for my person motivates you, your overtures are stripped of all moral value.’” What this writer is saying is that if it is a duty to kiss than there has been no delight in it. This is the way our lives should reflect our love for our Lord! Listen to passages that deal with this delight and describe it: Deut. 28:47-48 Because thou servedst not the Lord thy God with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things; 48Therefore shalt thou serve thine enemies which the Lord shall send against thee, in hunger, and in thirst, and in nakedness, and in want of all things: and he shall put a yoke of iron upon thy neck, until he have destroyed thee. Psalm 43:4 Then will I go unto the altar of God, unto God my exceeding joy: yea, upon the harp will I praise thee, O God my God. Psalm 100:2 Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Psalm 90:14 O satisfy us early with thy mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. John 15:11 These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. Matthew 5:11-12 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 12Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. Our greatest delight, our greatest joy, our greatest emotional charge is not in man or in man-concocted thrills—it is in Christ alone!
II. What is the object of this delight? It is ‘in the Lord.’ Delight that God is! He is the self-existing God! He is the one who is not dependent upon any other being—for God is! He is the One who does not change—for God is!—not was, nor will be! He is the One then that is past finding out. We will not come to the full knowledge of Him as we are infinite beings. Job 26:14 “Behold, these are the fringes of His ways; And how faint a word we hear of Him! But His mighty thunder, who can understand?” Just as He is unchangeable in His character, He is also unchangeable in His Word. His promises are sure, for He is sure! It is this same God who said to Moses—“I AM” who then followed that statement with, “I am the God of your fathers.” In other words, I am the infinite transcendent God who has not remained past finding out, but I have revealed myself to generations before you and will continue generations after you—for I AM! Every attribute of God Himself should begin to add delight upon delight. Since He is wise, we should delight in being taught by Him; since He is omnipotent, we should never do things in our own strength but delight to rest in His power and might; since He is holy we should delight in pursuing a lifestyle that despises sin and forsakes our propensity to indulge our flesh. The object our delight is the God of all Ages! Coming to know Him, and coming to explore all of who He is makes our delight in Him all the more worthy of its passion. We indeed are far too easily impressed—and that means that we have such a small view of God. The fact that God forgives opens such a wide view of Him as God promises the repentant person, “None of the offenses he has committed will be remembered against him” (Ezek. 18:22). Does this not foster delight in a God who has the power not to remember sin against us? Our delight in the Lord or lack of delight in Him and corresponding delight in earthy things demonstrates our lack of understanding, knowledge, trust in, and ultimately love for God!
III. What promise is there to the one who delights in the LORD? They will get new desires—God’s desires. There is first of all a qualification met here. For those people who find their greatest delight in the LORD, they will get the Lord’s desires. It is not good for God to give us our desires. We should not want our own way! Our own personal desires are so bent on us, on our good, on our passions, based alone on what we think. How far from reality would we be, if we had our thinking alone. Our hearts are so corrupt, that even if we had right desires, we would use them in a wrong way. Genesis 6:5 Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. Notice that in wickedness, even the intents of the thoughts of our hearts have this evil. But, when we begin to delight in the LORD, He changes our very desires. This is indeed where the change needs to begin. When we find our greatest delight in God’s glory alone, there is a corresponding change that begins to take place in the very desires of our heart. This year, our hearts are in desperate need to be changed. It only comes as we find our greatest thrill in God Himself! Spurgeon wrote, When it becomes my duty to be happy, when I have an express command to be glad, then indeed I must be a sinner if I refuse my own joys, and turn aside from my own bliss. Oh, what a God we have, who has made it our duty to be happy! What a gracious God, who accounts no obedience to be so worthy of his acceptance as a gladsome obedience rendered by a joyous heart.” Delight thyself in the Lord.”