Delighting in something is a choice. The OT Hebrew word for it means to be soft and pliable. The NT Greek word is often translated “rejoice” and the dictionary adds that this is an inner satisfaction. It is described as a gift from the Holy Spirit, and I can see why. If I determine to have a hard heart and be crabby and complaining about my lot in life, that delight will not happen. The Lord only gives gifts into empty and receptive spaces.
Today’s devotional reading tells me to, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4) Some think that means He will give me whatever I want, but miss that part about delight and empty places. If the delight is there, it is because I am content, satisfied, without a long list of I-wants. Instead, along with that delight (that is really from Him also), the Lord pours into me His set of I-wants. When I delight in the Lord, then I want what He wants. Thy will be done!
Other verses say the same thing. These say that if God’s people turn to Him, act justly, put the love of money aside, then God becomes their satisfaction and delight. When that happens, He hears my prayers, I am obedient, and He will bless my life…
If you return to the Almighty you will be built up; if you remove injustice far from your tents, if you lay gold in the dust, and gold of Ophir among the stones of the torrent-bed, then the Almighty will be your gold and your precious silver. For then you will delight yourself in the Almighty and lift up your face to God. You will make your prayer to him, and he will hear you, and you will pay your vows. You will decide on a matter, and it will be established for you, and light will shine on your ways. (Job 22:23–28)
Another OT passage also speaks of obedience, in this case to the Sabbath laws. Just to clarify, the NT says the Sabbath represents or points forward to the rest that God gives to those who put their faith in Him. It is a rest from the hard work of trying to establish our own righteousness, for He gives us the righteousness of His Son. When I have that, I also am able to delight in Him and will experience all that He promised the saints of old.
If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on my holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight and the holy day of the Lord honorable; if you honor it, not going your own ways, or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly; then you shall take delight in the Lord, and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth; I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken. (Isaiah 58:13–14)
The NT repeats this idea. When I rejoice in the Lord, my life shines for Him. I don’t worry because I trust Him with the issues of life. I pray, knowing He hears me, and experience a peace that is such a total delight that it is unexplainable!
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:4–7)
All of these are choices. When I choose to do it myself, or go my own way, or let my flesh govern my life, then I will not know His delight. Instead, I’m to seek and prioritize becoming all He wants me to be. Jesus put it this way.
Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:31–33)
I know that only the Spirit of God can kindle this spiritual delight. He is the fire, the spring that moves the watch, the wind that drives the ship. Guilt always has a sad face and a fearful heart, but the gift of grace flows into a clear conscience. I can choose to confess my sin and with that confession, God supplies forgiveness and cleansing. He replaces all of the junk in my life with joy, with His incredible delight.