A Few of God’s Favorite Things

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What pleases God? It’s literally a delightful topic, but a post allows only room to touch on a few things. The first that comes to mind is Jesus: when John baptized Him, the New American Standard Bible (NASB) records in Matthew 3:17 that God proclaimed, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.” The Bible repeats this statement in similar form 5 more times.

Chronologically, the next thing that pleases God well is in 1 Corinthians 1:21-24 (NASB):

For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

In fitting and loving progression, God is well-pleased in the gospel: salvation for us through the sin-conquering death of His perfect, well-pleasing Son.

Human relationships spark the next occasion of God’s being well-pleased. Colossians 3:20 (NASB) says, “Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord.” First Timothy 2 (NASB) begins, “First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, in order that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” There’s a lot to unpack in verses (vs.) 1-4 above, but Paul writes that our top priority should be approaching God on behalf of our leaders so that we may live a good, calm life. Either this life and/or going to God concerning our leaders that we may live this kind of life is “good and acceptable” in God’s sight.

Hebrews 13:16 (NASB) says, “And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” The King James Version (KJV) translates the last word “well pleased,” from the Greek euaresteo, also defined by Strong’s Definitions as “gratify entirely” according to blueletterbible.org. Euaresteo is used thrice in the New Testament (NT): entirely in Hebrews. Earlier, verse (v.) 11:5 (NASB) says, “By faith Enoch was taken up so that he would not see death; and he was not found because God took him up; for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God.”

We have few details why Enoch pleased God. Jude 1:14 says he prophesied. His father, Cain, built and named a city after him (Genesis 4:17). We’re told twice that Enoch walked with God (Genesis 5:22, 24), so God took him. “Walked” is from halak, used more than 500 times in the KJV and sometimes translated “to live.” Noah also “walked with God” but didn’t get an express route to heaven like his great grandfather Enoch, although Genesis 6:9 says, “Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time,” and v. 8 records that “Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.”

Hebrews 11 above continues in v. 6, “And without faith it is impossible to please (euaresteo) Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” Hebrews gives us the bottom line: We can’t please God at all without faith, believing “that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” So many religions are founded on fear linked with works, threatening, “You’d better do such-and-such or else!” While we must respect the true God, His love oozes from even His commands. Our God requires that we believe in Him, and believe that He rewards those who seek Him—not punishment, but rewards!

This brings to mind Micah 6:8 (NASB): “He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?” In this chapter, Micah struggles with how to approach God in light of sin and writes in vs. 6-7, “With what shall I come to the Lord And bow myself before the God on high? Shall I come to Him with burnt offerings, With yearling calves? Does the Lord take delight in thousands of rams, In ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I present my firstborn for my rebellious acts, The fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” No, But God presented His own Son for our sin. Even in Old Testament (OT) passages like this, God reveals His delight in providing for our sin Himself. Isaiah 53:10 says, “But the Lord was pleased (hapes) To crush Him, putting Him to grief; If He would render Himself as a guilt offering” (NASB). Hapes occurs 75 times in the KJV and is also translated, “delight, desire, will, pleasure, favour” according to blueletterbible.org.

Further in Micah, v. 7:18 (NASB) says, “Who is a God like You, who pardons iniquity And passes over the rebellious act of the remnant of His possession? He does not retain His anger forever, Because He delights in unchanging love.” The KJV reads, “because he delighteth (hapes) in mercy.” Jeremiah 9:24 (NASB) says, “’but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight (hapes) in these things’, declares the Lord.”

In 2 Samuel 22:20-21, like Psalm 18: 19-24, God’s hapes occurs because of Israel’s ancient King David: David exults about God, “He rescued me, because He delighted in me. The Lord has rewarded me according to my righteousness” (NASB). David defines his God-pleasing righteousness: “According to the cleanness of my hands He has recompensed me. For I have kept the ways of the Lord, And have not acted wickedly against my God. For all His ordinances were before me, And as for His statutes, I did not depart from them. I was also blameless toward Him, And I kept myself from my iniquity. Therefore the Lord has recompensed me according to my righteousness” (vs. 21-25). Keeping His Word pleases our God.

David says in Psalm 37:23-24 (KJV): “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth (hapes) in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand.”

In Psalm 40:6-8 (NASB), David reveals both what God does not delight in and what we should: “Sacrifice and meal offering You have not desired (hapes); My ears You have opened; Burnt offering and sin offering You have not required. Then I said, ‘Behold, I come; In the scroll of the book it is written of me. I delight (hapes) to do Your will, O my God; Your Law is within my heart’.” David speaks prophetically: in Hebrews 10, the quote is attributed to and finds its complete fulfillment in Jesus (vs. 5-10).

In Psalm 51 (NASB), David gives another example of what God does and doesn’t delight in. Verse 6 says, “Behold, You desire (hapes) truth in the innermost being, And in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom.” David pleads in vs. 14-17, “Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, the God of my salvation; Then my tongue will joyfully sing of Your righteousness. O Lord, open my lips, That my mouth may declare Your praise. For You do not delight (hapes) in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; You are not pleased (rasa) with burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.” I’d love to present a more thorough study, fully exploring terms like rasa, which is also translated “pleased” in Micah 6:7, but I hope this post inspires you to search the Scriptures for additional examples of God’s pleasure and delight.

God appointed David as king after King Saul failed to do God’s commandment in 1 Samuel 13:13-14. Stephen sums up this event in Acts 13:22 (NASB): “After He had removed him, He raised up David to be their king, concerning whom He also testified and said, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My heart, who will do all My will’.” “Will” is thelema, sometimes translated “pleasure” or “desire.” Doing God’s will accomplishes God’s desire.

God also delights in doing His will Himself. Psalm 115:3 (NASB) says, “But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases (hapes).” Isaiah 46:9-10 (NASB) fleshes this out: “Remember the former things long past, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ‘My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure’;.” In Matthew 6:10 (NASB), Jesus teaches His disciples to pray for God’s kingdom to come, and His “will (thelema) be done, On earth as it is in heaven.” It’s getting harder and harder for me to wait for the day this happens.

Until then, let’s do what Psalm 135:1-6 (NASB) suggests:

Praise the Lord! Praise the name of the Lord; Praise Him, O servants of the Lord, You who stand in the house of the Lord, In the courts of the house of our God! Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good; Sing praises to His name, for it is lovely. For the Lord has chosen Jacob for Himself, Israel for His own possession. For I know that the Lord is great And that our Lord is above all gods. Whatever the Lord pleases, He does, In heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps.

Ultimately, God’s will will be done. God does what He pleases, and that should please us, too.

Greek and Hebrew translations and lexicon from the KJV (King James Version) of  http://www.blueletterbible.org

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB (New American Standard Bible) Copyright by The Lockman Foundation http://www.lockman.org

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