“The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love.”
(Psalm 147:11 ESV)
Do you remember falling in love for the first time? You wanted to spend as much time as you could with your beloved. You tried to find out all their likes and dislikes because you wanted to make them happy. In fact, their happiness made you happy, so what delighted them also delighted you.
It’s the same way in our relationship with God. As we grow to love him more and more, we want to find out what pleases him, what brings him joy and delight. And we want to do those things for and with him—not because we think he will judge us if we don’t, or because we are afraid of disappointing him, but because his delight actually increases our delight.
What gives God delight and pleasure? Scripture gives us a long list. Everything God does pleases him – he only does what is right and perfect, so he rightly takes pleasure in all that he does (Psalm 135:6). The first mighty act of God in history was creation, and he declared that it was very good (Genesis 1:31). He continues to delight in everything he has made (Psalm 104), which is a delight that we can share with him as we explore and enjoy the created world.
Perhaps most of all, God delights in saving us (1 Timothy 2:4). The very fact that we put our faith in him is so delightful that he sings about it (Zephaniah 3:17)! He also likes to hear from us—prayer pleases him (Proverbs 15:8), and so does praise (Psalm 147:1, 11).
Obedience pleases God (1 Samuel 15:22; Colossians 1:10), so although it is true that we can’t do anything to make him love us more than he does because his love for us is perfect and complete, we can act in ways that bring him joy.
It’s amazing to think that our choices can grieve God’s heart or bring him pleasure. He loves us so much that he has made himself vulnerable in that way. Indeed, that kind of vulnerability is part and parcel of love. True love doesn’t hold back, protecting itself from pain. Instead, a lover offers himself to the beloved in a way that makes both pleasure and pain possible.
How should we respond to this great God who loves us so much that he takes pleasure in us? We should try to find out and do what pleases him through obedience to his Word. We should also love others, in the same way, he loves us, opening ourselves up to them even though we know that sometimes we may get hurt in the process.