By Annie Yorty, Crosswalk.com
Perhaps you've heard that you should delight yourself in the Lord. David wrote this encouragement in a psalm.
Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart's desires. (Psalm 37:4 NLT)
The Bible says that God delights in certain things too. You can probably guess some of what might be on His list:
Does the Lord have as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord? (1 Samuel 15:22 NASB)
I [Wisdom] was the architect at his [God's] side. I was his constant delight. (Proverbs 8:30 NLT)
Who is a God like You, who pardons wrongdoing and passes over a rebellious act of the remnant of His possession? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in mercy. (Micah 7:18)
The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in those who tell the truth. (Proverbs 12:22)
Justice and Righteousness
I am the Lord who demonstrates unfailing love and who brings justice and righteousness to the earth, and that I delight in these things. (Jeremiah 9:24 NLT)
"Look at my Servant, whom I have chosen. He is my Beloved, who pleases me." (Matthew 12:18 NLT)
But Did You Know that God Also Delights in You?
Way back in the beginning, when God spoke the world into existence, He showed pleasure in His creation. After calling forth light, seas, dry land, vegetation, sun, moon, stars, and animals, He pronounced them good. His creation pleased Him.
But God wanted to make something more. Something extra-special.
Then God said, "Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us." (Genesis 1:26 NLT)
God breathed His own breath of life into the first human. We are His image-bearers, created for relationship with God like no other part of creation. When He finished with His crowning work, God declared it very good. God was more pleased with man and woman than with any other part of creation.
As you probably know, things in the Garden of Eden went downhill when Satan tempted Eve, and the first couple succumbed to sin. They passed that sin DNA down to everyone who lived except Jesus. But sin has never deterred God's delight in His people, though He paid a dear price to overcome it. You can find testimony of God's delight in His people sprinkled all throughout the Bible.
What Does It Mean for God to Delight in You?
There's no doubt God unconditionally loves all people. That's why He sacrificed His only Son to save us from sin (John 3:16). But He receives pleasure when we find our delight—our satisfaction—in Him. He celebrates when we follow Him wholeheartedly.
Some miss the caveat for God's delight. They reason that if God delights in them, then He must also approve of, or at least overlook, their sins. Consider what Apostle Paul said about that.
Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? (Romans 6:1-2 NLT)
Beginning a relationship with God through Jesus removes the roadblock to God's delight in you.
There is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1 NLT)
Sometimes, though we have received forgiveness for sins through Christ, we still struggle to believe God delights in us. If this describes you, your perception of God has become skewed. Perhaps you're looking at Him through the clouded lens of a troubled past. For example, if your parent abused you, it's difficult to imagine the perfect love of a heavenly Father. If a significant person in your life did not delight in you, perhaps you're assigning their attitudes to God. You may feel unworthy of anyone's delight.
A Picture of Delight
In our family, we never miss an opportunity to delight in our children on their birthdays. I pull out baby pictures and reminisce about how they came into the world and changed our lives for the better. We favor them with a special meal and gifts. Cards and words of affirmation warm their hearts. Attention and time spent together reinforce how much we value them.
Of course, the party culminates with the presentation of a cake. We all stand and sing "Happy Birthday" as the child glows with happiness and sometimes a bit of self-consciousness.
The image of a birthday celebration leaps to mind when I contemplate the description of God's delight found in Zephaniah 3:17.
He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs. (NLT)
A Prayer to Help You Know God's Delight in You
When you doubt God's delight in you, think of these words from Zephaniah and turn them into a prayer that reassures you of the truth.
For the Lord your God is living among you.
Father, how amazing to think that You sent Jesus, Your Son, to live among people on earth as one of us. Then You gave the gift of Your Spirit to dwell within us. I praise and thank You for being ever-present. You stay with me through every sorrow and every joy. I am never alone.
He is a mighty savior.
Father, You stretched out Your strong arm to snatch me from Satan and the bondage of sin. Jesus, You paid the debt I owe for my sins with Your own blood shed on the cross. I can never repay You for this gift of new life. Because of Your extreme sacrifice, I believe You love me beyond any human measure I can imagine.
He will take delight in you with gladness.
Father, You delight in me because I am Your precious child. As I consider the beautiful world You created for me to use and enjoy, I feel Your pleasure. I experience Your care as You provide for all my needs. You always look forward to talking with me, and Your Word tells me I am precious in Your sight.
With his love, he will calm all your fears.
Father, Your faithful Word tells me I belong to You. You have proven Your love by saving me through Jesus. When I am troubled, You carry my burdens in Your strong arms. Since I am Your child, Your fierce protection refuses to allow any harm to come to me. I can stand firm in You through any difficulty without fear because You love me.
He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.
Father, Your delight in me bursts out in song. I can only imagine the lyrics You may be singing. Is it a lullaby? Or maybe it's a ballad telling of how I fit into Your story. Whatever the words may be, Your joy permeates my being and leaves no doubt that I am Yours.
God Delights in You
As I write about God's delight, I can't wipe the smile off my face. His song reverberates deep in my heart. He tells everyone, "This is my girl, and I'm so pleased with her."
The truth of God's delight in you should foster a lifestyle of humble joy. Pray this prayer daily to remind yourself of God's delight and live in His constant affirmation as a beloved child.