What does it mean for us to have a God of pleasures?
How does God pleasure over us?
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.
Pleasures of God
“…The river of thy pleasures.” In singing of this river, the psalmist and prophet King David was proclaiming the delightful truth that our God is a God of pleasures. Which sets the heart to wondering…
What qualifies something as a pleasure of God, so that we can see what some of them are? If we use this scripture as a guide, it seems these pleasures are experiences or ways of being that are of God’s Kingdom, and that He shares with those who trust in Him. So I explored the scriptures for what fit this, and wrote about it in Part 2 of this series on Psalm 36:7-8. There, I noted that the Apostle Paul showcased a selection of pleasures in what he called the fruit of the Spirit.
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance… Galatians 5:22-23
These are Ways of God
Although the Apostle Paul wrote of this fruit of the Spirit to describe the loveliness that the Holy Spirit manifests within those who believe on Jesus, it is also right for us to see these simply as ways of God. Because God is their source.
And when we know these as ways of God––ways that He finds pleasurable––we might begin to see some of what King David knew about God when he celebrated His excellent loving kindness. So let us paint with these ways a resplendent portrait of our God of pleasures, to help us see what a wonderful God we have.
A Portrait of God Pleasuring Over Us
Now, a pleasure, by definition, feels good to the senses and to the emotions––even for God. Or maybe more so for God? For He was a God of pleasures even before time began. Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance… pleasures of God. Picture God feeling good in being these ways––as He reaches out to us, as we call out to Him, as He interacts with us in all our ups and downs.
Consider our God being someone who finds pleasure in expressing His love to us…Who relishes being joyful over us…Who delights in being calmly at peace as He works in our lives…Who feels satisfaction in suffering long with us while He is loving us amidst our struggles or failings––even when we are causing Him pain.
Feel Him savoring being gentle with us, enjoying being good to us, feeling glad as He knows through faith that He can bring to fruition the work He began in us. Envision Him as a God who finds riches in meekly holding Himself to our pace and within our boundaries with Him, not forcing Himself on us in ways we are not ready for, yet wooing us to venture closer. And who is happy in temperately restraining Himself with us, so that, in His glorious immensity, He does not harm us.
What About God’s Anger and Judgment?
At this point questions arise. But doesn’t God get angry? And is He not the judge of all? Yes, He does, and He is. For although God, in His agape love, suffers long and is slow to anger, a time for anger, and for judgment, does come.
Such a time, though, is in the face of long and persistent rebellion against Him, by hearts that disdain His long and persistent mercy toward them. Only God knows when these measures are filled, for only He can see into the depths of the heart––and He is slower to judge than we can fathom.
What is important for us to see here is that God is not gratified by His anger. It doesn’t make Him feel good, as a pleasure would. Also, passing judgment on people is not one of God’s pleasures. He explained this to the prophet Ezekiel. “Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord God: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?” (Ezekiel 18:23). But God does find pleasure in mercy, and so, before He pronounces judgment, He delights in giving long mercies in the hopes of such a turning.
We also need to understand that God’s anger and judgment are never turned toward any who belong to Jesus, who seek to walk in the new life of the Spirit who is in them. The scriptures promise us, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Romans 8:1).
Under the Shadow of God’s Wings
The portrait here of God pleasuring over us is not merely touchy-feely thoughts. This is spiritual reality––some of the living color of God’s loving kindness.
It makes all the difference in the world to know that, when we pray to Him, we are praying to a God who meets us in His pleasures and then who kindly helps us with our need. And when we fellowship with Him, that we are fellowshipping with a God who is enjoying being with us and is rejoicing over us. Not because we have earned it or deserve it, but because through Jesus He turns His pleasures toward us.
When we truly believe from our hearts that this is who God is with us, and therefore put our trust in our kind God, we will come to live under the shadow of His wings, close to His heart, as King David did. And there in that sheltered place, like this psalm promises, God will give us drinks from His river of pleasures. And He will spread before us a feast out of the fatness of His house––a banquet of goodness from the Kingdom of heaven.
How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God!
We bless You, Father God, for being a God of pleasures! Teach our hearts how kind You are, and all the good things this means for us! May these truths capture our hearts in wonder… and never let go! The Name of Jesus!
Read this series on Psalm 36:7-8. Part 1: Putting Our Trust Under the Shadow of God’s Wings, and Part 2: Drinking of the River of God’s Pleasures & Delights.
major rewrite September 27, 2019
last minor edits November 11, 2019