Meditating on the Gems of the Bible: 2. Delighting in God (2)
Psa 37:4 Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Whenever writing a meditation I have always sought to be real and for this reason I (unusually) let a day go by without writing because as I reflected at other times in the day on this verse it worried me and I am not sure how real it is to say that I (or you) actually ‘delight’ in the Lord. Do we really take pleasure in Him? It is for this reason that I continue with the same verse (aware also that I haven’t touched the second half of it either).
In the Law it was quite simple: “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” (Deut 6:5) It was a command, an instruction to love God. Somewhat formal perhaps. When we come to the Psalms, there is a more emotional feel: “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.” (Psa 42:1). That speaks of a deep yearning in the psalmist to know and encounter God. Then that same psalmist speaks again: “Send forth your light and your truth, let them guide me; let them bring me to your holy mountain, to the place where you dwell. Then will I go to the altar of God, to God, my joy and my delight.” (Psa 43:3,4) He speaks about being drawn to the place of God’s dwelling, to the place where he will encounter “God, my joy and my delight.”
There it is again, this idea of God being our delight. It is a word that seems to shout strong emotion about God who has so touched him that he is thrilled by God’s wonderful presence. He is able to say that he enjoys the Lord. Yes, that is the amazing aspect of this whole thought about delighting in God, it speaks of enjoying God and that is not a concept or idea that we normally think about when we think of the Holy One of Israel, the God who lays down laws and requires His people to obey them, and holds them accountable when they fail.
Yet here it is, this thought that the psalmist in Psa 37 brings to us, that we can (and should) delight in God, take great joy and pleasure in Him. This surely must be one of the most challenging verses in the Bible for it calls us into an intimacy with God that many of us would doubt is possible, a relationship whereby His presence (not just His name) brings us great joy and pleasure. Is this something we really attain to? I ask the question in fear and trepidation of being presumptuous.
And yet, yes, there are times when He has spoken His word and I have been thrilled with it and with Him. Yes, there have been times when He has drawn particularly close and I have known the warmth of His love. It’s not like it all the time, but there have been those times and I am sure there will be those times again. I can’t delight in an abstract figure the God of pure information that is understood by the intellect, but I can delight in the very real person.
Some of us (many of us?) may delight in learning about Him and we delight in what we know about Him, but this challenges us to go beyond the intellect, this challenges us to focus all that we are on all that He is – when He reveals Himself. Everything about Him must come by revelation, it must be because He shares it with us. But then we respond to the calling. He speaks, it seems, so quietly that we probably don’t even realise that it is Him, but we pause up like Moses before the burning bush and we start thinking and maybe even start searching from within our spirit. And so He shares some more of Himself and we respond again but with the revelation of Himself comes the revelation of what we are like, and we don’t like that. But we have heard His call and so we surrender our lives as we have heard of His wonderful love through Jesus. And now we have His own Holy Spirit within us and from time to time we catch a special sense of His leading or His teaching or His simple revelation of the presence of the Godhead – and we marvel.
Sin within us shouts that this cannot be possible and as the revelation grows, that He can’t love us like that, but He keeps on speaking and gradually our hearts are won over to the truth and we understand He loves us exactly like we are but, even more, He loves us so much that He wants something better for us. Gradually – so slowly – that becomes a reality and our inner being is transformed to believe, it is true, He loves me, He is for me, He accepts me just as I am and loves me just like this, and love melts hearts and my heart is melted and I realise that I have feelings for Him that can only be described as pleasure and joy.
Along the way I find I can call Him daddy because He is a loving father to me, and even more my heart is melted. But it is all a matter of revelation. It is also a matter of transformation and it is me who is being transformed. On a good day – and not every day is like that because we are still people in a fallen world struggling to put sin to death, to challenge self, and to resist the enemy – but on a good day I hear His voice, I catch glimmers of His heart and I am left wondering and marvelling and I thrill over Him.
In this transformation process I realise I am thinking differently. I want the things He wants. I hate the things He hates, I desire the things He desires. I find my desires are different from what they were before I met Him. He has changed them. He has given me new desires and as I walk the path with Him I find He leads me in new paths and find it is enjoyable because I am doing new things, thinking new thoughts, speaking new words, and all these things, I realise, are a way of receiving those desires that have been formed in me. As I have come to a place by His leading where I can delight in Him, I find he puts new desires in my heart and then brings those things into being. How amazing.