What are some of the pleasures of God?
And how do we drink of His pleasures?
How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God!
therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings.
They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house;
And thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures.
Heady Stuff Indeed
King David of Israel saw with unprecedented vision into the heart of God, and he wrote songs about what he found there. In this passage from an ancient song, he extolled God for a blessing He shares with us:
“Thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures.”
“… The river of thy pleasures.” I hadn’t known God had one of those. And we get to drink of it.
Strong’s Concordance tells us that another fitting translation here is delights, so we can rightly name this The River of God’s Pleasures and Delights. These are the pleasures of God Himself––heady stuff indeed for us humans to drink of.
What Are Some of These Pleasures of God?
If God has a river of pleasures, what is in this river that He finds so pleasurable? The Apostle Paul helps us here, for in his description of what he called the fruit of the Spirit, he showcased a selection of what must be pleasures of God.
For these fruit are a spiritual substance from God that the Holy Spirit shares with those who have put their trust in Jesus. Which nicely mirrors what King David described, of God giving drinks of His own pleasures to those who have put their trust under His wings.
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance… Galatians 5:22-23
Here are many kinds of God’s refreshment for us. And each has its own story, being profoundly different from lesser, but familiar, versions of them. For these delights come through the Holy Spirit and are therefore purely and heavenly supernatural.
For Example, the Fruit of Peace
One of the fruit in the Apostle Paul’s list is peace––a powerful and substantial delight that the Holy Spirit breathes into our hearts and minds. Scripture tells us more about this peace.
Shortly before Jesus was crucified, He promised to give His own peace to His disciples. “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you” (John 14:27). He added, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
Years later the Apostle Paul described this peace: “the peace of God, which passeth all understanding”. He promised that it “shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).
This is a divine peace that can stand guard over our hearts and our minds, even without relief from our troubles. And unlike other forms of peace sought in some spiritual paths, which come through disconnecting or emptying––this peace fills us with something exceptionally good. Truly water from the River of God’s Pleasures and Delights.
These Fruit in Us
Now, just like this peace, all of these fruit of the Spirit are of the lovely nature of God. This is God beautifying us with His own Spirit and with His own essence, as we live a life of believing on Jesus.
What do these fruit of God look and feel like in us? Stories from other people and from my own life tell me that some perceive these as satisfying behaviors or states of being, while others––especially those with an abundance of emotion––know them as powerful and pleasurable feelings.
But regardless of whether they come as a state or as an emotion, these fruit act the same––changing our words, tone, and actions. So that in the midst of trouble, the fruit of God’s Spirit can replace our unpleasant or inadequate human responses with the kind that Jesus called us to walk in––which is a far more satisfying version.
We get more insight through King David’s imagery here––being given drinks from God’s river of pleasures. For it’s not that the delights of God simply flow freely in us day and night like a river, but instead are given to us as drinks. And a drink is something we take in, in a limited measure, over and over, to sate our thirst for a time. And then we need another drink.
There are, however, ongoing conditions for us to drink of God’s pleasures––an “if” factor, as there are with most of the promises of God. The if’s for these drinks are of us seeing God as the good God He is, in His excellent loving kindness, and of rejoicing in Him for this. And because we know this is who God is, of putting our trust under the shadow of His wings.
These if’s carry a rich story that I told in Part 1 of this series on Psalm 36:7-8: Putting Our Trust Under the Shadow of God’s Wings.
God’s Part––Our Part
Beyond these if’s, as we desire to walk in these fruit, we need to clarify the parts that God must do for us, and the parts that are our responsibility. And as we’ve seen, these fruit are something that God does for us, because these are the Holy Spirit’s fruit, not our own.
We need clarity in this, because if we believe we are responsible for producing these fruit ourselves, we end up mucking around in the lesser, earthly versions of these ways. And there we get ourselves mired in a life of spiritual performance, derailed from our simple love relationship with God through Jesus, with His life flowing through us.
Still, while we can’t produce these fruit through our own efforts, some things are our part in this. First, we can turn our hearts toward these ways of God, valuing them, loving them, desiring them.
Also, we can guard and nurture our believing, so we don’t quench the Holy Spirit with unbelief. And too, we can respond to the Spirit, saying yes to Him, yielding ourselves to Him and His work in us. Plus, we can learn to hear His voice and to follow His leading.
Then as the Holy Spirit is free in us, He will share with us drinks of these fruit. He will also, as we grow in the life of Christ, see to it that our thirst for the pleasures of God grows, until we can no longer bear to live without them.
Drinking from the River
Surely Jesus spent much time with His Father enjoying these pleasures. If we did too, imagine how different our days would be––even with our same persecutions, sufferings, and troubles. For God’s delights would be equipping and comforting us.
And then, if we grow in a life of trusting from under the shadow of God’s wings, and all that means, we might shockingly come to find that we love His pleasures above all the others we have known. We might even become connoisseurs of the fine pleasures of God––just like Jesus was.
We bless You, Father God, for You give us Your pleasure-laden Holy Spirit! Thank You for this! Teach us to honor the Holy Spirit in us! Grow us up to be lovers of Your delights! The Name of Jesus!
Read Part 1 in this series on Psalm 36:7-8, about the key that opens these pleasures of God to us: Putting Our Trust Under the Shadow of God’s Wings.
And read Part 3, which shows us what a beautiful God we have: A God of Pleasures Pleasuring Over Us.
minor edits September 6, 2019