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Delight with God

Christian, tell me why do you say that God “delights” in you? Or that you delight in Him? Religion is usually associated with rules, not with delight!
Because…God loves it when we come to Him, and we love to do so.

“Delight” is a great word that we don’t use as often as we should. To me, it has such a joyful connotation. I think of a small child’s shriek of laughter when playing with a puppy, then I think of the grins on the faces of adults enjoying that scene. I think of holding a newborn baby, counting all the perfect little fingers and toes, then I think of the sweet snuggle with a toddler reaching up to be held or a child coming in for a hug. I think of a reunion of long-separated loved ones, and of the way our faces light up when we see someone special to us.

That is the kind of feeling that God has for us, and that Christians have for Him in return. Is that a little surprising? It’s true, though. Let’s see what the Bible tells us.

God Delights in His People

We too often think of God as being solemn and stern. After all, He is so majestic, so holy, so awesome. We read about His wrath against sin, and all the times that He punished the Israelites for their disobedience. We can even read about His infinite love and His frequent rescues of repentant Israelites without catching on to His delight in them. He enjoys His people!

For the LORD takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with victory.

Psalm 149:4 (NIV)

Everything throughout the Bible shows the extremes to which God will go in order to have us near Him. A case could even be made that His entire creation was planned specifically for that purpose. Scientifically, the universe is fine-tuned with the factors needed to make any kind of life possible at all. Earth, specifically, has exactly what is needed for human life, and for humans to learn about the rest of the universe 1. Proverbs has a beautiful way of expressing this in its personification of Wisdom participating in that creation:

When He established the heavens, I was there,
When He inscribed a circle on the face of the deep,
When He made firm the skies above,
When the springs of the deep became fixed,
When He set for the sea its boundary
So that the water would not transgress His command,
When He marked out the foundations of the earth;
Then I was beside Him, as a master workman;
And I was daily His delight,
Rejoicing always before Him,
Rejoicing in the world, His earth,
And having my delight in the sons of men.

Proverbs 8:27-31 (emphasis added)

Even discounting creation (not an easy thing to do!), God’s plan for our salvation is what we could call “a clue” that God wants to be with us. 😁 No matter how far and hard we run, He keeps doing everything in His considerable power to bring us back. From even before creation, He had already planned to sacrifice His Son so that sinful people could be redeemed (1 Peter 1:18-21). Jesus said that there is joy in Heaven each time that happens, over each individual sinner who repents and returns (Luke 15:7). He illustrated that with the parable of the prodigal son, where the father had been watching and waiting, then threw a huge party when his son finally came home (Luke 15:11-24). In His “high priestly prayer” in John 17, Jesus showed how close He wanted the relationship to be between God the Father/Son/Spirit and those who came to Him in faith.

Even God’s discipline happens because He delights in His children (Proverbs 3:11-12) … although we are being less than delightful at that moment. Many times, He had to allow hardship for Israel, especially when they turned to idols or to powerful foreign armies instead of trusting Him. But He always promised that He would bring them back into His favor. For instance, the first half of Zephaniah chapter 3 is a prophecy of coming discipline. But the second half is a prophecy of the restoration afterward, where “He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.” (Zephaniah 3:17)

The prophet Zephaniah lived during the sixth century B.C. But his prophecy is very similar to one from Moses almost a thousand years earlier: “[When you repent and return] the LORD will again rejoice over you for good, just as He rejoiced over your fathers.” (Deuteronomy 30:9)

Isaiah said the same thing:

It will no longer be said to you, “Forsaken,”
Nor to your land will it any longer be said, “Desolate”;
But you will be called, “My delight is in her,”
And your land, “Married”;
For the LORD delights in you,
And to Him your land will be married.
…as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride,
So your God will rejoice over you

Isaiah 62:4-5

God’s People Delight in Him

One of the first Bible passages I memorized as a child was Psalm 100, which begins with “Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands. Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing.” (Psalm 100:1-2). Close behind it was “Delight yourself in the LORD; and He will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4 2)

One reason for delight in God is the security He provides. The psalmist phrases it as “When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, your consolations delight my soul.” (Psalm 94:19) All of Psalm 91 is a beautiful picture of God’s protection. Other reasons include His faithfulness (Deuteronomy 32:4), His righteousness (Psalm 145:17-18), His grace and mercy (Psalm 145:8), and most of all, His love (John 3:16, 1 John 4:19).

Another, perhaps counter-intuitive, reason for this delight is God’s law. Some might tend to think of the law, or any set of boundaries, as a restrictive, joy-killing wet blanket. Not so! Without the law, we would experience a kind of spiritual agoraphobia, getting overwhelmed by an absolute lack of direction or milestones. We would also get into a lot of unnecessary difficulty and hardship. (When I’m traveling, the little disembodied voice of the GPS is a delight, not a wet blanket!) Psalm 119 uses the word “delight” nine times (in NASB translation) out of 176 verses that are all about the writer’s love for God’s law. Those instructions teach us how to live a life full of joy in union with God. Jeremiah made the same point:

Your words were found and I ate [consumed] them,
And Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart;

Jeremiah 15:16

The word “praise” is often used as a way of expressing our delight in God. It is used 113 times in Psalms alone. I’ve linked to a partial (but still pretty long) list here. Check it out, and see if you aren’t moved to delight and awe in Him. This often results in a type of song that we call a “doxology“, an overflow of praise trying to find a way to express God’s goodness (never with complete success, though!).

Mutual Delight

The first question-and-answer of the Westminster Shorter Catechism asks “What is the chief end of man?” The answer given is “to glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever” . When He is finished with us — with those of us who accept Jesus’ offer of salvation — we will do so, and He will live among and enjoy us forever as well (Revelation 21:3). We will spend eternity delighting in each other!

Footnotes and Scripture References

  1. See links here and here for more details, and the book “The Privileged Planet” for tons of detail.
  2. Note that when delighting in the Lord, the heart’s desires will be in sync with His will. This isn’t a free-for-all!

Unless otherwise noted, all scripture quotations are taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995, 2020 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Scripture reference links go to, which defaults to another good translation, the New International Version (NIV).  The site has 20 or more translations available for reference.