Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shall you dwell in the land, and truly you shall be fed.…
I. IN WHAT WAY ARE WE TO COMPLY WITH THE CONDITION Delight thyself in the Lord"? What does this mean? The idea of delighting in God is just one of those great, inclusive religious ideas, that by their very vastness almost disable remark. When a man has attained to this, that he supremely delights in the blessed God, his religious life is well nigh perfect. To delight in God is the possibility only of a spiritual, a religious being. The distinction is clearly made between God and His gifts. We might delight in any of the things that God has given, in any of the material and intellectual blessings of life, the manifold provisions and gifts of God's providence, but this would not be to delight in God Himself. We have to do here with the highest religious elements of our nature, and with the highest exercise of them. The emotion expressed is both a high and a rare one. Even among pious men there is, I fear, very little genuine joy in God. They feel there ought to be, and they pray for it; but their actual feeling is rarely that of passion; it is calm, measured, almost cold. Sometimes they can say, "As the hart panteth after," etc.; but not often. And there may be much satisfaction in prayer, and yet no delight. For prayer may be a relief, a vent to feeling long suppressed; or it may be a cry of urgent necessity, or disguised self-flattery, like that of the Pharisee. But all this is not delight.
II. TRUE DELIGHT IN GOD WILL HAVE RESPECT, FIRST, TO WHAT GOD IS, AS A SPIRITUAL BEING OF SUPREME EXCELLENCY AND GLORY — the Author of all other beings and of all things. We are capable of so contemplating God. The Bible is full of this feeling: how eloquent, how rapturous are its recognitions of God. How David delighted in this. And so was it in the early Church. See the Te Deum, etc.
1. Now, 1 do not ask whether you delight in other things rather than in God; in your business or books, in science or social festivities, in amusements or sensual gratifications. In such a ease, your delight is dearly irreligious. But I ask you to distinguish between your religious delights — between the religious feelings that have your own soul for their object, and the religious feelings that have God for their object. The one is simply religious selfishness; the other is religious worship and sacrifice. I need not add, that our supreme delight in God is when God is manifested in Jesus Christ; when, in the Incarnate, redeeming Son, He expresses all the wondrous riches of His great wisdom and love — when we see the Eternal light in the Eternal love. No man can delight in God until he attains the perfect love which casteth out fear.
2. A religious soul will also delight in what God does; in all the movements of His providence; in all the arrangements of His grace. Our religious life is largely affected by the way in which we look at God's doings — by the feelings which we cherish towards them. It is easy, of course, to delight in God's doings when His providential ways are pleasant to us and His gifts affluent. And this is really the chief experience of most lives. Privation and sorrow are more exceptional than we think. A great sorrow fills a large space in our thoughts, but a small one in our lives. We think more of the one black cloud than of the blue sky across which it is driven. We cannot, of course, delight in pain, but we may delight in God who inflicts pain, delight in Him although He inflicts pain; have such strong assurance of His wise love, that we cling to Him in the stedfast love of our troubled hearts.
III. Is WHAT SENSE WILL THE LORD GIVE THE MAN WHO DELIGHTS IN HIM THE DESIRES OF HIS HEART? It is a daring phrase, for even good men may desire hurtful and wrong things. Our desires are no safe law no measure of blessing. But if God cannot change at our caprice, may not our caprice itself change? And is not this the way in which this daring assurance is really fulfilled? Delight thyself in the Lord, and then thy desires will be right: thou wilt be happy in the perfect gratification of thy instructed and pious desires. "The prayer of the upright is His delight." Our first and out great solicitude, then, should be about the delights of our souls. What are our supreme delights? God's gifts Of Himself? Our wealth, pleasures, borne, or our spiritual privileges? Our delights will always create and shape our desires. If we desire God and holiness, and the salvation of men, no desires of ours for these things can be so deep as God desires. A nurture, a culture, an urgency of the spiritual soul is possible to us. Delight in God will grow by that which it feeds upon — its satisfaction enlarges its desires. And when we do really delight in God, holiness will be easy and natural as common life; duty will be turned into a joy, and self-sacrifice will rejoice in love.
(H. Allon, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.