The Pleasure of God
Let me ask you a question. What makes you happy? What gives you pleasure? Is it certain people or events or things? Holidays make me happy. I love spending time with family and friends. It also brings me pleasure to cook a good meal for my family and friends and have them enjoy it. I am also delighted to see my sons grow and mature into faithful young men of God. I love to see believers understand more of God’s Word and grow in their faith, love and hope in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. The apostle John wrote that he had no greater joy than to see believers walking in the truth (3 John 4).
So what delights you? What fully pleases you? I have a book in my office entitled “The Life of God in the Soul of Man” by a 17th century preacher named Henry Scougal. There is a line in the book that strikes me deeply. It says, “The worth and excellency of a soul is to be measured by the object of its love.” The idea is that you can know how excellent or worthy someone is by what they love. You can see the beauty of someone’s heart by knowing what gives them delight, what gives them joy, and pleasure.
When you apply this test to God, He is seen as most excellent and worthy because he takes pleasure in His people and loves to do them good. A section of Scripture in Jeremiah 32, makes this point very clear. In this passage the people of Israel were going into captivity in Babylon because of their sins. They had walked away from God and they would soon see Jerusalem laid waste. All their dreams would disappear into despair.
But God had made a covenant with Abraham thousands of years before, that his descendants would be great and possess the land they were now about to lose. So to reassure Israel of this promise, God tells the people of a new covenant, an everlasting one, that will ensure ultimate blessing for the people of God.
Behold, I will gather them out of all countries where I have driven them in My anger, in My fury, and in great wrath; I will bring them back to this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely. They shall be My people and I will be their God; then I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me forever, for the good of them and their children after them. And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, That I will not turn away from doing them good; but I will put My fear in their hearts so that they will not depart from Me. Yes, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will assuredly plant them in this land, with all My heart and with all My soul. ( Jeremiah 32:37-41)
This wonderful section of Scripture presents a great truth about the goodness of God. We need to take a look at three specific points. God said that,
- He would make an everlasting covenant to not turn away from doing good to His people.
- He would rejoice over His people in doing them good.
- He would perform all this good with all His heart and soul.
Although this promise has some specific points that relate solely to Israel, we must not think that it relates to them only. The everlasting covenant that God is making is the new covenant that was inaugurated by the sacrificial death of the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore the heart of this promise is for all of God’s people.
So, let’s take a closer look at each of these three points.
God will never turn away from doing good to His people
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever (Psalm 23)
God is our shepherd, and a good shepherd never leaves his flock. God will always care for us, guide us and protect us. He will meet our needs, and He will graciously teach us how to obey His Word. But notice verse 6, specifically. It says that “goodness and mercy shall follow” us all the days of our lives. The word “follow” translated literally from the Hebrew means to pursue. So you could say that all of God’s goodness and mercy will be hard on our heels wherever we go, as long as we live. God is on a hot pursuit to lavish His goodness upon us! Our God is never hesitant or indecisive about being good to us. He always knows what to do for us, how to do it and when to do it. Even in the presence of our enemies he will never turn back from taking care of us. No one and nothing can ever cause Him to turn back on His relentless course to bless us.
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written:
“For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”
Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:31-39)
Look at that marvelous phrase, “God is for us”! He promised that He would never turn away from doing good to His people. And He proved it by not sparing His Son, Jesus Christ. If anything would have stopped God from doing us good, it was our sins. But God gave His Son for us even when we were His enemies to save us from our sins. Therefore, there is now nothing, in all of creation that will ever stop God from freely blessing us with all good things. Our God is not a fair weather friend. He has made an everlasting covenant with us. Our Father will never turn His back on us, even in our worst troubles. He is always open to our prayers.
Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me. (Psalm 50:15)
God’s ultimate goal is to be glorified by His people, worshipping Him as the great and awesome God that He is. And God is the most glorified when we are the most satisfied in Him.
God rejoices to do us good
Our God will never turn back from blessing us. But beyond simply going through the motions of giving us a blessing, He takes great pleasure in doing us good.
Let them shout for joy and be glad, Who favor my righteous cause; And let them say continually, “Let the LORD be magnified, Who has pleasure in the prosperity of His servant.” (Psalm 35:27)
What a tremendous revelation! God experiences pleasure and delight in our well-being! He loves to see you prosper, especially spiritually. Many times there are things we do because we have to do them. But there are other times when we do things because we love to do them. God is delighted and pleased to bless you! He is never annoyed or angry because you may need His care. He isn’t bored with your mundane concerns. He looks forward to your calling upon Him.
He does not delight in the strength of the horse; He takes no pleasure in the legs of a man. The LORD takes pleasure in those who fear Him, In those who hope in His mercy. (Psalm 147:10, 11)
God loves to come to our aid. He finds no pleasure in watching us muddle through a problem. He doesn’t enjoy watching us sweat and fret. But He loves it when we put down our calculators and our schemes and we place our full hope in Him. Our awesome God delights in our reliance upon His wisdom, power and faithful, loving care. The Lord’s people, you and me, are His never-ending pleasure.
Praise the LORD! Sing to the LORD a new song, And His praise in the assembly of saints. Let Israel rejoice in their Maker; Let the children of Zion be joyful in their King. Let them praise His name with the dance; Let them sing praises to Him with the timbrel and harp. For the LORD takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the humble with salvation. (Psalm 149:1-4)
You bring God great pleasure. His heart’s desire is to beautify all His people with the glory of salvation. He longs to fully redeem us from the grip of sin and to give us everlasting life. He takes great delight in filling our lives with love, joy and peace. His soul longs for the day when all of His people will stand before Him in all the glory they are destined to receive through the Lord Jesus Christ.
God is not an egotistical bully who shows off His power by demeaning people. His heart’s desire is to redeem and exalt those who are lost in sin and headed for destruction. God has overcome the greatest obstacle that would ever keep Him from blessing us — our sin. And He has done this through the horrific sacrifice of His Son on the cross.
The prophet Isaiah gives us a prophetic picture of Christ’s death for our sins. And it shows us the heart of God who freely gave up His Son for the salvation of the whole world.
Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised [crushed] for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:4-6)
All of us were full of sin, grief and sorrows. All of us deserved to be stricken and smitten by God. Yet God laid the full weight of His punishment for our sins on the back of His Son Jesus Christ. And it would be blasphemous for me to say this were it not written in the Word of God: He sacrificed Christ with pleasure.
Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise [crush] Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, And the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand. (Isaiah 53:10)
My heart can barely take in this stunning truth. It pleased God to crush His Son for me. When Jesus Christ was beaten and crucified for our sins, the fury of God’s wrath fell upon Him. He who knew no sin became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. And all of this was done because it pleased God to save us!
God was pleased to give His Son for you. He was pleased to strike Him down so that you could be exalted in righteousness. God did not have to give Christ for you. He was under no obligation. But it pleased His heart to freely give His Son for your salvation.
We were a parched, dying desert in need of life giving water. And God had a 100 trillion ton fresh water reservoir that would flood our barren lives with goodness. What stood between us and that water was a dam called sin. But the death of Christ opened the flood gate and the awesome love and mercy of God poured forth. God was not reluctant to do this for us. He rejoiced to do us good. He took pleasure in our salvation even though the cost was infinitely high.
God will do us good with all His heart and soul
God will never turn back from His pledge to do us good. He will rejoice and take pleasure in doing us good. And He will bring us to ultimate salvation with all His heart and soul. There is perhaps no greater section of Scripture to show that God’s whole heart and soul is devoted to our good than this prophecy from Zephaniah. It concerns the great day of God’s people’s final salvation in the coming kingdom of God upon this earth.
Sing, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! The LORD has taken away your judgments, He has cast out your enemy. The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst; You shall see disaster no more.
In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem; “Do not fear; Zion, let not your hands be weak. The LORD your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zephaniah 3:14-17)
Nothing so captures the inner feelings of our hearts as the songs that spring from them. In the great day when all of God’s people are fully redeemed, when He lives among us, there will be great, unabated joy. This great day will take place after Christ’s return and the establishment of the kingdom of God. The enemy of God’s people will have been cast out and then we will see disaster no more.
Think of the great songs of joy that will come from our hearts. But think of this too. On that notable day God will rejoice over His people and the thunder of the song of His soul will echo throughout the entire universe! If God spoke and the universe came into being, think what might happen when God breaks forth into song!
If the worth and excellency of a soul is measured by the object of its love. If we can know the quality of someone’s character by what he or she delights in, then how worthy and excellent is our awesome God? He is the most beautiful person in the universe. May our hearts find pleasure and delight in Him just as He finds pleasure and delight in us.