It is almost impossible to stop one habit without starting another. By stopping one bad habit, you create a vacuum that another bad habit will rush into unless you fill it with a good habit of your own choice. That’s why in the New Testament we read things like, “Put off the old man, and put on the new man.” “Depart from evil, and do good.” You might call it HRT, Habit Replacement Therapy.
It’s also found in the Old Testament. For example, we saw yesterday how in Psalm 37, David struggled to stop dwelling upon the painful injustices he had suffered. But he also revealed that he battled against this depressing and demoralizing habit by replacing it with delighting in God (v. 4). That’s the alternative: dwell upon injustice or delight in God.
Good things or the best thing?
Why God? Why not anything else? I can delight in sport, in my career, in my possessions, in nature, in food and drink, in friends, etc. Yes, these are good things; but they are not the best thing. God is the best thing. Delighting in God is the best alternative to dwelling upon injustice because God is the total opposite of injustice.
Injustice is full of ugliness, pain, hatred, lies, evil, inequity, and destruction. God is full of beauty, blessedness, love, truth, goodness, justice, and salvation.
If dwelling upon injustice produces anger, impatience, anxiety, depression, fear, and insecurity, delighting in God will produce love, patience, calm, joy, confidence, and stability. Delighting in God will produce delight!
Delight and God?
Did you read that sentence right? Delight and God in the same sentence?
Yes, true Christianity is a pleasure and a delight. Christian pleasure is not a contradiction. God doesn’t condemn pleasure; He says, “Get your pleasures in me!” He calls us to be excited, captivated, enthused, enthralled, and ravished with Himself.
But where do I start? “God” Seems so BIG! Start with Jesus Christ. You cannot delight in God without knowing God; you cannot know God without knowing Jesus. Read the Gospels, meet Jesus, know God, and delight in Him as you go. Soon, by faith, you will be able to say what Spurgeon said to unbelievers who offered him their joy: “We Christians do have joy, we do have delights, such that we would not part with one dram of ours for tons of yours; not drops of our joy for rivers of your delights.”
David said that if we delight in God He will give us the desires of our hearts. This does not mean that if we delight in God, He’ll give us everything you want. God is not some kind of cosmic Santa Claus who’s waiting to give us houses, cars, boats, horses, etc. if we could only love Him enough.
Remember the context of this psalm is of lamenting injustice and longing for justice. That’s the desire of the Psalmist’s heart, and by delighting in God our agitated and angry heart is satisfied and calmed in two ways.
First, our heart is immediately satisfied with God’s peace. To the extent that we are able to delight in God we will enjoy the peace of God.
“I need justice!” No, you need God.
“I will be satisfied when justice is done.” No, you will be satisfied when God is your delight.
When you delight yourself in God, you will desire God more, delight in Him more, desire Him more, etc. And so begins, and never ends, the virtuous cycle.
Second, our heart is eventually satisfied with God’s justice. One truth that dominates this Psalm and results from delighting in God is absolute and total confidence that justice will prevail, that God will put wrongs right. He will protect and provide for the innocent (6, 9, 11, 18, 25-26, 28, 34), and he will punish wrongdoers (2, 10, 13, 15, 17, 19, 20, 35-36). How does God do this? Four ways:
- God may move the person to say sorry and put right the wrongs done to you.
- God may move the church or the civil government to pursue justice for you.
- God may work in providence to bring a person down, to repay them as they have paid others.
- God may work in judgment, bringing the person to justice for all eternity.
Victims everywhere, delight yourself in God, and He will give you the desire of your heart.