What does it mean for us to have a God of 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.
“…The River of Thy Pleasures.”
“…The river of thy pleasures.” Our God is a God of pleasures. In Part 2 of this series on Psalm 36:7-8, I looked at some of what these pleasures of God are. And I noted that the Apostle Paul showcased a selection of these 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
What This Says About God
Although these fruit of the Spirit describe what the Holy Spirit brings into those who believe on Jesus, we can also simply see these as ways of God. Because God is their source. And when we know these as ways of God – ways that display His loving kindness, ways that He finds pleasurable––we might learn from them what a beautiful God we have.
For seen like this, these fruit paint a resplendent portrait of our God––a portrait that reflects some of what King David knew about God as he celebrated His excellent loving kindness.
What About God’s Anger and Judgment?
But first the questions come: Is God not the judge of all? And does He not get angry? Yes, He is, and He does. For although God, in His agape love, suffers long and is slow to anger, a time for judgment, and for anger, 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. And 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. Rather, God’s anger expresses His deep, long-suffered pain.
Also, passing judgment 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.
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, as He is the original source of pleasure. 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 hopes for the best about 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.
How different our lives might be if, when we pray to God, we are confident that this is how He will respond to us. And even more––for this is just some of what the scriptures mean when they tell us of God’s loving kindness.
Under the Shadow of God’s Wings
There is a place in God, near to His heart, where we might put our trust in Him. Here are love relationships with God that lead to abundant provision and care, with refreshment from the river of God’s pleasures. Here we might stay close by His side for the sheer joy of His nearness, and thus are protected, shadowed by the wings of God.
What is the key to this place? It is knowing God as excellent in loving kindness, and rejoicing in Him for this.
These portrayals of how God pleasures over us are not merely touchy-feely thoughts. This is spiritual reality––some of the living color of God’s loving kindness. And when we believe from our hearts, resting in these truths, we will find a feast spread before us––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 Parts 1 and 2 in this series on Psalm 36:78. Putting Our Trust Under the Shadow of God’s Wings, and Drinking of the River of God’s Pleasures & Delights.
minor edits September 6, 2019