A Note from Pastor Rick: What Delights God?
What brings you delight? A breathtaking sunset? An unexpected hug from a normally unexpressive child or grandchild? A communication from a lifelong friend who no longer lives near you? A favorite piece of music that you haven’t heard for some time? A new idea or fresh perspective?
Many different things can bring us delight. Have you ever wondered what brings delight to God’s heart? This is not a question that I was actively pondering, but one which presented itself to my mind and heart rather obliquely the other day.
I have been doing my devotional reading and meditation in the second half of Isaiah this summer. It began with a teaching assignment and then I just continued to slowly work my way through these rich chapters that contain so much consolation, encouragement and hope. And as beautiful as Isaiah’s prophetic work is, it is not always that easy to fathom. So I have been making my way through the book with the help of the best commentary I have ever owned.
A few days ago I was in Isaiah 53, the last of the great prophetic songs celebrating the “Servant of the LORD.” Isaiah 53 speaks of the Servant’s suffering for the redemption of God’s people—a prophecy dramatically fulfilled in the suffering and death of Jesus. In my reading I came to a verse that has always troubled me. Verse ten begins, “Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer . . .” In the King James Version this verse begins, “Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him . . .” This verse speaks of the Servant of the LORD being crushed on the cross. What has always troubled me about this verse is what is expressed in the King James Version that I grew up with. I understand how it was indeed God’s will for Jesus to suffer as an atonement to bring about our salvation. But how could God find any pleasure in the agony of his Son? Jesus’ suffering on the cross had to be as heartbreaking to the Father as it was excruciating for the Son.
Here is where my “friend,” commentator Alec Motyer brought me great help (The Prophecy of Isaiah; Inter-Varsity Press). The Hebrew word translated “will” in the New International Version and “pleased” in the KJV does indeed mean “to wish, will, desire, be pleased to.” Then comes the money sentence: “The heart of God is revealed in his delight, even at such cost, in finding and providing a guilt offering.” (emphasis added) There can be no question that Jesus’ suffering on the cross also brought great anguish to the heart of God. But “even at such cost” God’s great heart for me, for you, for every person who has ever lived is revealed in the Servant’s redeeming work. God is delighted to bring you and me home to his heart. Delighted—even at such a costly price—delighted to express his redeeming love for those of us who so desperately need to be bought by that love.
The Apostle Paul says in II Corinthians 5:19 that God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself. So he shared in the cost of the atoning act of Christ on the cross. But the object of his action in his Servant, Jesus, is of such high value to him that he is delighted in the bargain. God delights in loving me, loving you so much that he is delighted—even at such cost—to love us to our deepest need. Delighted to love us in such a way that we are restored to him so that we can receive that love. That is a fresh perspective that brings me great delight in the great goodness of our God.