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DELIGHT YOURSELF IN THE LORD

November 7, 2015

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DELIGHT YOURSELF IN THE LORD: The Double Cure For Our Fretting and Fulfilling Our Desires
– In Psalm 37 David is old (Ps 37:25) and thus speaks wise words of an a man after God’s own heart who has spent much of his life dwelling in the presence of Jehovah. And so first let us observe that David uses the verb FRET 3 times in the first 8 verses (Ps 37:1,7-8), interweaving it with God’s antidotes for fretting. In fact he exhorts us to do several things to counter fretting (Ps 37:2 understand evildoers final fate, Ps 37:3 Trust in the Lord, Ps 37:3 Do good, Ps 37:3 Cultivate faithfulness, Ps 37:5 Commit your way to the Lord, Ps 37:5Trust Him, Ps 37:7 Rest in the Lord, Ps 37:7 Wait patiently for Him) but one activity that is unique is the command (not a suggestion) to “DELIGHT YOURSELF IN THE LORD.” Notice that the verb fret has an interesting derivation from an Old English word (fretan) meaning to devour, which gives us a vivid picture of fretting, which is allowing something to “eat away” or “gnaw away” thus producing an envious, agitated, vexed or worried mind. Unfortunately fretting comes far too naturally to our fallen flesh, the old adversary, that Adamic nature still resident in our mortal body (Ro 7:18note, Gal 5:17note). And so in Ps 37:4 David gives us God’s antidote, charging us to change our focus from fretting on evil doers to delighting in our good God, writing “Delight yourself in the LORD and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Unfortunately my flesh too often “inverts” the order of the passage and focuses on my reward (the fulfilling of my desires) rather than the fulfilling of my responsibility (delight). David’s order however clearly shows us that precepts come before promises, responsibility before rewards and delight before desires. So I need to take an honest inventory – “Am I truly delighting in the Lord?” To answer that question let us meditate on what it means to DELIGHT. And let us pray like the godly Puritan Richard Baxter “May the living God, Who is the portion and rest of His saints, make these our carnal minds so spiritual, and our earthly hearts so heavenly that loving Him, and DELIGHTING in Him, may be the work of our lives.” Amen

In Psalm 37:4 the Hebrew verb for DELIGHT (anag) is a command which charges us to find our enjoyment in Jehovah. Another Hebrew word for delight (chephets) means to bend toward or incline toward, a very fitting description of what our attitude should be toward our Almighty God! A NT parallel of Ps 37:4 is Php 4:4notewhich is also a command to continually “Rejoice in the Lord.” If we attempt to DELIGHT in God out of a sense of duty, it will not be a delight but a drudgery! But God never gives a commandment without also providing the enablement. So how do we arouse a desire to delight and rejoice in the Lord? Simply put, we can’t but God can! Paul commands us to work out our salvation (e.g., to DELIGHT), explaining that this is possible because “God is working (Gk = energeo ~ continually energizing) in us, giving us the DESIRE and the POWER to do what pleases Him.” (Phil 2:12-13NLTnote) Note that we are both responsible and dependent! And so we work out what God’s Spirit works in! We daily make the choice to renounce reliance on self efforts to muster up the affection to delight out of a sense of duty, and instead rely on the enabling power of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of Christ alone can stir in our hearts this DESIRE and give us the supernatural power to DELIGHT in Jehovah. As A W Tozer said “We pursue God because, and only because, He has first put an urge within us that spurs us to the pursuit (and) when the Holy Spirit shows us God as He is we admire Him to the point of wonder and DELIGHT.” James Smith explains that “Sin has taken our attention off of God – and fixed it upon ourselves, or the things around us. Grace calls our attention off of everything else – to fix it upon God. It directs us to DELIGHT in the Lord.” Puritan Stephen Charnock adds that “This DELIGHT (in Ps 37:4) springs from the Spirit of God. Not a spark of fire on your own hearth is able to kindle this spiritual DELIGHT; it is the Holy Spirit Who breathes such a heavenly heat into our affections. The Spirit is the fire that kindles the soul, the spring that moves the watch, the wind that drives the ship. Just as prayer is the work of the Spirit in the heart, so DELIGHT in prayer owes itself to the same Author.” As an unknown Puritan prayed “When I think upon and converse with Thee, ten thousand DELIGHTFUL thoughts spring up, ten thousand sources of pleasure are unsealed, ten thousand refreshing joys spread over my heart, crowding into every moment of happiness.” (Valley of Vision)

May God’s Spirit stir our hearts to delight in the LORD as we pray David’s words asking that we might “feast on the abundance of Your house and…drink from the river of Your DELIGHTS.” (Ps 36:8, Jn 4:14, 7:38-39note) “Dear fountain of DELIGHT unknown!/No longer sink below the brim/But overflow, and pour me down/A living and life-giving stream!” Amen (William Cowper)

What does delighting in the Lord look like practically? If we delight in a person, we desire to be in their presence and to hear their voice. Indeed, we should seek to be like the blessed man whose “DELIGHT is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night.” (Ps 1:2note) And like the psalmist who “opened wide his mouth and panted, because he longed for God’s precepts.” (Ps 119:131, 40) We need to daily chose to “delight in His commandments, which we love.” (Ps 119:47) We should be like a young couple who is so in love that their greatest desire is to be in each other’s company prompting them to rearrange all their priorities! Why? Not because that was their duty but because it was their greatest desire and delight! This begs the question “Do I DELIGHT in God’s Word like this? Do I set aside time to commune with Him in His Word because I DELIGHT in hearing to His voice? Has my quiet time become “too quiet,” because I have begun to see it more as a duty than a DELIGHT?”

May God’s Spirit revive our hearts according to His Word (Ps 119:25) that we might be like Jeremiah who said “Thy words were found and I ate them, and Thy words became for me a joy and the DELIGHT of my heart.” (Jer 15:16note) If we truly DELIGHT in Jehovah, we desire not only to spend time with Him, listening to His voice in His Word, but also longing to speak with Him. We need to imitate godly Nehemiah who prayed “O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant, and to the prayer of Your servants who DELIGHT to fear (reverence) Your Name.” (Neh 1:11) And may our heart be like “Mary, who was listening (cpPs 81:10b) to the Lord’s word, seated at His feet” and not like “Martha (who) was distracted…worried (fretting) and bothered about so many things.” Indeed, may we delight in Jesus’ words that “There is really only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” (Lk 10:38-42) Remember, beloved, that our Lord desires our delight before our duty, our presence before our presents! Father grant that by Your Spirit we like the saints of old might discover that the one thing that is important in time and eternity is to sit lost in DELIGHT at our Savior’s feet communing with Him through His Word and prayer. Amen

To DELIGHT in the Lord is to desire to be near Him, to be like the OT saints who cried “My soul longs for Thee, as a parched land. Selah.” (Ps 143:6) “Whom have I in heaven but Thee? And besides Thee, I DESIRE nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Ps 73:25-26) When we DELIGHT in the Lord we come to understand more fully that “the nearness of God is our good,” (Ps 73:28) and that “a day in Thy courts is better than a thousand elsewhere.  I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.” (Ps 84:10) And as we learn to delight in Jehovah, we will desire even more to daily be in His presence, for “In His presence (literally before His face) is fulness of joy. In His right hand there are pleasures forevermore. (Ps 16:11) So let us each morning enabled by His Spirit choose to DELIGHT in Jehovah and beseech Him to “hide us in the secret place of His presence.” (Ps 31:20) “Let us come before His presence (face) with thanksgiving. Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms” (Ps 95:2), confident that He will make us “glad with the joy of His presence.” (Ps 21:6) Indeed, as the writer of Hebrews encourages, “Let us therefore draw near with confidence (boldness) to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need (which is ALL the time!)” (Heb 4:16note) “O God of my delight, Thy throne of grace is the pleasure ground of my soul.” (Valley of Vision)

WILL GOD GIVE ME ALL MY DESIRES? – Some suggest that Ps 37:4 is a promise that we will receive whatever we desire. And most of us have fallen into the trap wondering “Lord, why don’t You give me what I desire since it is not a bad thing?” When we are frustrated by a promise it may be because we are not interpreting the promise correctly! When we examine the context, we observe that Psalm 37 tells us not to fret or be envious of the wicked and not focus on what they have or what they seem to be getting away with. Instead we are to focus on Jehovah, the great I Am Who promises to “supply all our needs (not our wants) according to His riches in Christ Jesus.” (Php 4:19note) And when we compare a parallel passage like 1Jn 5:14note, we see that we need to ask for desires that are “according to His will” not our will. (see also qualification of abiding in His Word – Jn 15:7) As Spurgeon says those “who delight in God desire or ask nothing but what will please God.” In other words as we practice the presence of God, daily delighting in Him, in His Word, in prayerful communion with Him, gradually His Spirit transforms our heart so that our desires become His desires and it is those desires He will grant. Indeed, our desires will be His desires when our heart sings “Take my will, and make it Thine. It shall no be no longer mine. Take my love, my Lord, I pour at Thy feet its treasure store. Take myself and I will be, ever only, all for Thee, ever only all for Thee.” (Frances Havergal) If God has our hearts, He can trust us with His blessings. So let us DELIGHT in God and He will become our greatest DESIRE! And if all we desire is God, God will give us all we desire…Christ Jesus Himself, “in Whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (Col 2:3note) The path to true fulfillment in this short life does not lie in preoccupation with self but in selfless preoccupation with Jesus, our all in all (Heb 12:2note, Col 3:11note). Beloved, true contentment becomes our experiential reality when God’s will is more important than our wants and when we come to realize that Jesus is everything we need for time and eternity!

While it is amazing grace that saved sinners can DELIGHT in the Lord, it is even more amazing that He takes DELIGHT in us! Like a diamond miner who picks up a rough, dull stone and rejoices with delight, God delights over unlovely people. He knows what precious gems, through His Spirit’s shaping and polishing, sanctified sinners will become in Christ, yea, even becoming His own treasured possession (Dt 26:18, Titus 2:14note)! And so the prophet exults that “The LORD your God is in your midst. He is a warrior Who can deliver. He TAKES GREAT DELIGHT in you. He renews you by His love. He shouts for joy over you.” (Zephaniah 3:17NET)

May our prayer daily be like the words of the devout Puritans in the Valley of Vision – “If Thou seest in me any wrong thing encouraged, any evil desire cherished, any DELIGHT that is not Thy DELIGHT, any habit that grieves Thee, any nest of sin in my heart, then grant me the kiss of Thy forgiveness, and teach my feet to walk the way of  Thy commandments. Produce in me self-despair that will make Jesus precious to me, DELIGHTFUL in all His offices, pleasurable in all His ways, and may I love His commands (delight yourself) as well as His promises (desire fulfilled). Give me the saving lamp of Thy Spirit that I may see Thee, the God of my salvation, the DELIGHT of my soul, rejoicing over me in love (Zeph 3:17note).” Amen

Take my life and let it be,
Consecrated Lord to Thee.
Take my moments and my days
And let them flow in ceaseless praise.

Take my will, and make it Thine.
It shall no be no longer mine.
Take my heart heart, it is Thy own.
It shall be Thy royal throne.

What do you do when you don’t desire to delight in God? Clearly this is an important question so I would strongly encourage you to watch the 6 part series by Dr John Piper on what do I do…”When I Don’t Desire God” – 

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