Delighting in God!
William Nicholson, 1862
"Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away. Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart!" Psalm 37:1-4
The great Creator of the universe, the God of Providence, the God of grace — is worthy of the supreme affection of all his creatures. Every other being, and every other thing — ought to be subordinate to him. How happy are they who have been enlightened and renovated so that they can say, "Whom have I in Heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever!" Psalm 73:25-26
This Psalm is an exposition of some of the hardest chapters in the book of providence —
the advancement of the wicked,
and the depression of the righteous,
a solution of the difficulties thereof, and
advice as to the conduct of God's people under such dark dispensations.
Instead of fretting ourselves because of evil-doers, verse 1, we are advised to reflect on the short continuance of the ungodly on earth, "For like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away!" And then where will be their wealth, treasures, and, alas! their precious souls? While all around us is fleeting, let the Christian "trust in the Lord, and do good," verse 3. And while others are making their Heaven in earthly vanities — it will be ten thousand times more advantageous for him to "delight in the Lord." verse 4.
I. The Important Duty Recommended:"Delight yourself in the Lord."
1. What does delighting in God presuppose?
(1.) Reconciliation with God. Man is a transgressor. As such, God is his enemy. Man and his Creator are at variance. Man is an enemy by wicked works. Colossians 1:21; Ephesians 2:1-3. Can man in a state of rebellion, delight in God? Do enemies delight in each other? "Can two walk together except they be agreed?" Amos 3:3. But the method of reconciliation is proclaimed, 2 Corinthians 5:18-20.
(2.) Regeneration. The unrenewed sinner hates God. He has no relish for his service. His soul has an evil bias. All his affections are impure and cannot rest on God.
To delight in God man must be born again. John 3:3, 5-7. It is the office of the Spirit to renew the mind — to change the heart — to turn the sinner's aversion — into relish, and his hatred — into love.
(3.) A subordinate estimate of all other objects compared with God. The sinner idolizes the world — the creature — wealth — business engagements — secular enterprise — pride — popularity — possessions, etc. But when the Spirit regenerates the soul, the affections are elevated above the perishing objects of sense.
(4.) It also presupposes love — the love of a child for his Almighty Parent. Love arising from the Spirit's creation in his heart. Romans 5:5. Love arising from a consciousness of having a saving interest in the Divine covenant. Love to Christ, for what he has done for his soul. There can be no delight in God without such love.
2. What delighting in God implies.
(1.) It signifies to take sincere pleasure in whatever concerns God. Those who delight in him will be often thinking of him, and meditating upon his word. Romans 7:22. Further it implies,
(2.) The investigation of the Divine character:
As revealed in his works. "The heavens declare his glory." Psalm 19:1, 2, etc.; 8:1, etc. Science in all its branches reveals God's wisdom, power, and love.
As revealed in his word. There patriarchs, priests, prophets, evangelists, and apostles, some of them inspired by his Spirit — declare his character. The dealings of God with his people, as narrated there, proclaim the infinity of his love. He who delights in God, will delight in his word, as the revelation of his will — as the transcript of his mind. Psalm 19:7-11.
In his works and in his word, the Christian sees the manifestation of the Divine perfections. He delights . . .
in his wisdom, for it guides him,
in his power, for it defends him,
in his omnipresence,
in his omniscience, etc., etc.
(3.) To delight in God is . . .
to rejoice in the work of redemption,
to wonder at the infinite love of God,
to marvel at its fullness of supply for every spiritual need,
to be astonished at its infinite glorious results.
(4.) To rejoice in our special interest in God's redeeming love:
To admire the cause of our first awakening to a sense of its necessity,
to trace the first rays of Divine light upon our minds,
to refer to the time of love when God sealed our pardon, etc.,
to rejoice in God as the God of our salvation.
(5.) To seek solace from him in the time of trouble, when all other sources of relief fail. Psalm 56:3.
(6.) To trust in the guidance of his providence, satisfied with its wisdom and love, though its operations are sometimes mysterious and inscrutable.
(7.) To take pleasure in communion with him.
(8.) To love his cause, and seek its prosperity.
II. The Gracious Promise Made."He shall give you the desires of your heart."
1. The fulfillment of this promise will depend upon the character of the desires to be satisfied.
OBSERVE: the promise respects,
(1.) The desires of a renewed heart. The desires of a man who delights in God. Desires of a holy nature. The godly man is anxious not to indulge a desire which he cannot form into a prayer.
(2.) Desires in unison with the will of God. "Not my will — but may your be done." 1 John 5:14.
(3.) Desires expressed to God by believing prayer. Matthew 21:22.
What is the desire of the heart of a godly man?
The desires of the righteous will always correspond with the objects of their delight.
The Christian is not indifferent to his temporal needs. And God has promised to supply them — though deprivation of them may sometimes be necessary for the purpose of chastisement. He acts properly when he says "Give me this day, my daily bread." Isaiah 58:13, 14.
He desires to comprehend more of the Will of God.
He desires to enjoy a more sensible evidence of his saving interest in Christ, and of conformity to him.
He desires to enjoy more intimate and sweeter fellowship with Heaven.
He desires to be more devoted to his service, and more useful to the Church and to the world.
He desires to be weaned from this world, and to be more than ever animated with the hope of a better world.
He desires to be reconciled to the loss of life, and to have faith in Christ, mighty to conquer death.
He desires to have an entrance ministered unto him abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ.
These are desires which God delights to meet. The numerous promises he has made prove this. His relation to his people, his love to them and delight in them — are a pledge that he will give them the desires of their heart.
He is their God, and they are his people.
He is their Shepherd, and they are his flock.
He is their rock, their fortress, their deliverer, their strength, their buckler, the horn of their salvation, and their high tower.
He will never abandon them. He will be their portion in time, and afterwards receive them to glory, as the purchase of his love, and as jewels in his crown! Blessed are those who delight in the Lord.
1. Be thankful for the condescension of God in admitting us to delightful fellowship with him.
2. Let the sinner stand in dread — he despises and hates God.