The Delight of God
Written February 2017
The Lord detests the sacrifice of the wicked, but he delights in the prayers of the upright. The Lord detests the way of the wicked, but he loves those who pursue godliness. Proverbs 15:8 – 9 (New Living Translation)
Not long ago we all celebrated Christmas, and I bet each and everyone of us had at least one person on our shopping list that was a struggle to buy for. I think every family at least has one person that is very difficult to either buy for because they have everything, or is difficult to please because they are so picky. Whichever you have on your shopping list I wish you all the best next year as you buy them a present.
Part of the frustration in buying a present for someone like that is that we have a goal that seems unreachable. We want to buy a present that will bring happiness and joy when they open it, but sadly, for some, those gifts just don’t exists. It is frustrating and makes buying present a dreaded task. Have you ever wondered what would make God happy? Your mind goes through its internal rolodex and keeps coming up blank. You wonder, “what is it that God really wants?” Here in these two verses there are some precious nuggets of truth that are quite uplifting and revealing when it comes to the heart of God and what delights Him. These verses reveal that God does not want fancy gifts from His children, rather He wants His children to seek Him, love Him, and obey Him.
In verse 8 it says that God detests the sacrifices of the wicked. In other translations it says that the sacrifices of the wicked are an abomination to the Lord. Sacrifices in this verse pertain to the animal sacrifices made to God in the temple. This could mean anything from a small bird to an ox depending on the situation. What Solomon was doing in these proverbs was contrasting two things that were different in many ways. A sacrifice was costly and in some cases very costly while a prayer cost nothing to make. A sacrifice is an outward action, seen by others while a prayer is inward and is usually unseen or heard by others. A sacrifice does not require a right heart as they can be made by the wicked, but to have a prayer that God delights in requires an upright life. Simply put, these proverbs are saying that the things God most delights in is the obedience, love, and purity of His people.
Let me give three practical lessons we can learn from these verses.
First, God’s favor cannot be bought. No matter the cost or elaborate nature of a sacrifice, God will not delight in them if the heart of the one offering the sacrifice is filled with sin. Bringing that idea into the twenty-first century we are reminded by this passage that there is no amount of money in our bank account we can give, or even things we can do that will ever please God if our hearts are not right with Him. It doesn’t matter if we dress up and attend every church service, tithe every penny we make, and volunteer for every committee that’s out there, God’s favor is not something we can buy with material objects or from the sweat of our brow. What God delights in is something that goes to the very heart of our being. It deals with our souls and whether or not we have repented of our sins and confessed Jesus Christ as Lord.
When Christ is Lord of our lives and we are walking with God in simple obedience, loving Him and serving Him with a humble heart, even our very prayers bring delight to God. Why is that you may ask? Because a good father delights in the love of his children. That is how big and amazing God’s love is for us. He is delighted in just hearing from His children. Just as a mother and father would be overjoyed to hear from their child that has moved away to college or to another state, God delights in hearing from His children who love Him, walk with Him, and follow Him.
Secondly, we can notice this that the way we live matters to God. Verse 9 says, “The Lord detests the way of the wicked, but he loves those who pursue godliness.” Let’s make sure we read this passage correctly. Verse 9 says that God detests the way of the wicked. God detests the way that their life is lived and the choices and actions that they take. It does not say God hates or detest the person whose way is wicked, rather it says that He detests their way and He loves those that pursue godliness. Here is the interesting thing, God cares about the way that both the wicked and the righteous live their lives. The heart of God is such that even those that turn their backs on Him and live their lives contrary to all of what He stands for, He still cares about how they live.
Nowhere in Scripture is the idea that “God doesn’t care about what I do” is ever propagated. In fact the exact opposite is true. God cares about everyone of His creations and longs for each of us to live this life that we have been given to the absolute fullest we can, and that can only come by living life the way God intended. It is in God’s ways that we are safest, happiest, and the most fulfilled. The purpose of the commands of God are to bless us, keep us safe, and to show us what is right and wrong. By the commandments of God we know what is safe and what is dangerous.
For each and everyone of us, God despises when we walk down a wicked path in our life. Not just because it is wicked and wrong, but also because He loves us so much and when we do not follow a path of righteousness He knows the consequences we will endure because of it.
Finally, we can see that anyone can bring delight to God. Notice that the things that delight God have nothing to do with what we can afford, how smart we are, or our talents. To delight God we need only one thing, a heart and life dedicated to Him.
As a pastor I have had the opportunity to give advice to many people about various decisions and life choices. Sadly, many times the advice that I have given which is based soundly in Scripture is not taken. I have seen relationships end in disaster, finances spiral out of control, and tremendous strain be put on families. The times that this has occurred, my heart has broken for the those involved. However, for those times when someone has genuinely sought to honor God with their life and has walked upon that path of righteousness I have been overwhelmed with joy because I know that they have delighted God and their life is on a path toward great things.
Today, as you are reading this article, it might be that you have been trying to buy the delight of God through a personal sacrifice of money, service, or time, but your life and your heart are far away from your Savior. As the Scriptures says, God doesn’t delight in the sacrifices of those that are going down a path away from Him. What God delights in is the hearts of His children that diligently seek Him and love Him.
Today do you need to do something that would truly delight God?
Heavenly Father, I confess that so often I make sacrifices that are an abomination to Your eyes because my heart is far from You. I pray that You would forgive me of my wickedness and restore our relationship that was established in Christ. Please help me to pursue godliness that my prayers, my life, and all that I do would delight Your heart. Amen.