In a recent passage from William Gurnall about the Lord’s pleasure in the death of his Son from Isaiah 53, Gurnall expounded further about why God was pleased: through the death of his Son, God could show mercy.
God delights in mercy. Why does God wait on sinners so long? Months, years, preaching to them; it is that he may be gracious in pardoning them, and in that act delight himself. Princes very oft pardon traitors to please others more than themselves, or else it would never be done, but God doth it chiefly to delight and gladden his own merciful heart. Hence the business Christ came about – which was no other but to reconcile sinners to God – is called ‘the pleasure of the Lord.’ Isa 53:10). The Lord takes such joy and pleasure in this, that, whereas other fathers – whose love to their children sinks infinitely beneath any comparison with the love of God to Christ – mourn at the death of their children, and most of all when violent and bloody, God takes content in his Son’s death; yea, had the chief hand in the procuring of it, and that with infinite complacency: ‘It pleased the Lord to bruise him.’ And what joy could God take in his Son’s death, but as it made way for him and his poor creature that were fallen out, and at open war one against another, to fall in again by a happy accord? And now, speak, O sinner! If God doth so affectionately desire to be reconciled with thee, doth it not much more behove thee to embrace the peace, than it doth him to offer it? (William Gurnall, The Christian in Complete Armour).
Clearly, the Bible teaches that God delights to show his mercy. The prophet Micah wrote, “Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love” (7:18).
Gurnall’s comments made me wonder what else pleases God or what other things he delights in. I’ve found twenty of them; ten in this blog, ten in the next. This is a good exercise. Forcing yourself to think of ten things in any category helps to think deeply, expansively and biblically. So, with no particular order and with some negative examples of things that don’t please God here are the first ten.
1. In those who keep their promises
Ecc 5:4 When you make a vow to God, do not be late in paying it; for He takes no delight in fools. Pay what you vow!
2. In those who repent of sin
Ezek 18:23 “Do I have any pleasure in the death of the wicked,” declares the Lord GOD, “rather than that he should turn from his ways and live?
Ezek 33:11 “Say to them, ‘As I live!’ declares the Lord GOD, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways! Why then will you die, O house of Israel?’
Isa 1:11, 18 “What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? says the LORD; I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of well-fed beasts; I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of goats . . . “Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.
Ps 51:14-17 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness. O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
3. In the death of his Son
Isa 53:10 But the LORD was pleased To crush Him, putting Him to grief; If He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand.
4. In His Son
Isa 42:1 Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations.
Prov 8:30 then I was beside him, like a master workman, and I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always,
2Pet 1:17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,”
Col 1:19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,
5. In His friends:
John 15:15, 16 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.
6. In those who love his Son
Matt 3:17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
Matt 17:5 He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”
7. In Obedience
1Sam 15:22 And Samuel said, “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.
Amos 5:21 “I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies.
8. In his saints who fear him:
Ps 147:10,11 His delight is not in the strength of the horse, nor his pleasure in the legs of a man, but the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love.
Isa 65:11, 12 But you who forsake the LORD, who forget my holy mountain, who set a table for Fortune and fill cups of mixed wine for Destiny, I will destine you to the sword, and all of you shall bow down to the slaughter, because, when I called, you did not answer; when I spoke, you did not listen, but you did what was evil in my eyes and chose what I did not delight in.”
Heb 11:5 By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God.
Ps 41:11 By this I know that you delight in me: my enemy will not shout in triumph over me.
Luke 2:14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
1Kings 3:9, 10 Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?” It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this. It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this.
9. In righteousness
Isa 62:1 For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet, until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a burning torch. 2 The nations shall see your righteousness, and all the kings your glory, and you shall be called by a new name that the mouth of the LORD will give. 3 You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God. 4 You shall no more be termed Forsaken, and your land shall no more be termed Desolate, but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her, and your land Married; for the LORD delights in you, and your land shall be married.
Prov 11:20 Those of crooked heart are an abomination to the LORD, but those of blameless ways are his delight.
10. In those who boast in the Lord
Jer 9:24 but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.”
Think about these things! (Phil 4:8)