Do you remember being a child and maybe having the awareness that someone was taking pleasure in you? Whether it was a parent, a grandparent, or a friend of the family maybe you can remember that feeling of being delighted in the pleasure they took in you and desiring to bring them pleasure.
Did you know that this is faintly analogous with our relationship to God? Consider what Psalm 149:3-4 reveals:
Let them praise His name with dancing; Let them sing praises to Him with timbrel and lyre. 4 For the LORD takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the afflicted ones with salvation.
Why should God’s people live a life of praise to Him? Because He takes pleasure in them. But there are some huge differences with this in comparison to being a child and realizing someone is taking pleasure in you. People take pleasure in a child for various reasons: They are cute, they are family, they are charming, and they are simply children. But why does God take pleasure in His people? Does it have something to do with His people’s impressiveness? No (Deuteronomy 7:7). It is certainly not rooted in their goodness (Romans 3:10-11; Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:1-7). Our text gives us a clue. Yes, it is true that He takes pleasure in His people, but it is also true that rather than taking pleasure in them because of their beauty, He actually beautifies them with salvation. God takes pleasure in an afflicted people who are not beautiful and because He chooses to take pleasure in such people He beatifies them with salvation. Consider the following verses:
“The LORD did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any of the peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples, 8 but because the LORD loved you and kept the oath which He swore to your forefathers, the LORD brought you out by a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. (Deuteronomy 7:7-8)
“Because He loved your fathers, therefore He chose their descendants after them. And He personally brought you from Egypt by His great power, 38 driving out from before you nations greater and mightier than you, to bring you in and to give you their land for an inheritance, as it is today (Deuteronomy 4:37-38).
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love 5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved (Ephesians 1:3-6)
Why does God take pleasure in His people? Because He loves them. Why does He love them? We know He does not love His people because we are beautiful or because we do not have any problems because He beatifies afflicted ones with salvation. So why does He love us? Why does He find pleasure in us? Simply put, because He has graciously chosen to. He has chosen to beautify an afflicted people for His own pleasure for all eternity. He did this “so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:7). And the praise that comes from His people now will never cease for all eternity: to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved (Ephesians 1:6).
If you are a child of God then God takes pleasure in you because of His free and sovereign grace lavished on you in Jesus. This lavish grace was provided for through His Son’s finished work on the cross. You are delighted in because God has chosen to delight in you and make you beautiful in His Son. This truth is like an endless supply of fuel in our Christian walk. Again, notice what Psalm 149 says: God’s people praise Him because He takes pleasure in them. You see, Scripture is clear that not only does God take pleasure in His people, but that His people are to take pleasure in Him.
You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever. (Psalm 16:11)
Many other verses teach this kind of thing by exhortation and example. Here is the connection between God taking pleasure in us and we taking pleasure in Him that is so enabling in our walk with Christ.
From God’s free grace He has saved His people and is beautifying them with salvation, He takes pleasure in His people. The best thing for us is to center our whole lives upon God who delights in us and takes pleasure in us because of His own transforming grace at work in us. As we do so we bring Him great glory. If someone has chosen to love you even though you are not lovely and has transformed you into something lovely in His own Son then it displays the worth and unique excellence of that One to live your life for the pleasure of Him.
In one statement Psalm 149:3-4 points us to this grant reality: Live a life of praise for the pleasure of the One who takes pleasure in you. Or, delight yourself in the One who delights in you so that He might maximally be glorified in you.