The deeper I go into the Scriptures & heart of God, which are so intricately connected, the more I see the beauty and grandeur of God’s pleasures. Imagine, if you will, discovering that the “cosmic-kill-joy” that you once considered to be god, became a magnificent and majestic God that had pleasures beyond our wildest dreams! Imagine, once again, that you found out that, not only does He take pleasure in His creation and His plan of redemption, He is actually pleased with His people. The first line of Ps. 149:4 states, “For the Lord takes pleasure in his people.” Words cannot properly convey the widespread misunderstanding that abounds within the Church regarding God’s love for His people. And the practical outworking of that love is that God actually takes pleasure in them. They are not mere additions to creation that bring no emotional affections; rather, God’s people bring Him the utmost pleasure!
Now, it would be wise to make some clarifications here. God’s pleasure in His people is not because we are so special and unique, nor is it because we complete Him in any way. God was not lonely before Creation. He was infinitely pleased in Himself and sufficient and complete in Himself and without need for companionship apart from Himself, despite what many well meaning people subtly suggest. But such suggestions, regardless of intention, produce a low-view of God, in my opinion. We must see God as complete and sufficient and without our “help” in order to understand how the Bible presents Him. So please resist the temptation to make much of yourself and continue to make much of God and delight yourself in Him and His great love and affections and pleasures!
But the second half of Ps. 149:4 brings us to consider a connection between God’s pleasure and the humility of man, for the text goes on to say, “He (God) adorns the humble with salvation.” Humility is essential to pleasing God. James, the half-brother to Jesus, quoted Prov. 3:34 when he wrote, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6). It is interesting that in this same pericope, James wrote, “submit yourselves therefore to God” and “draw near to God, and he will draw near to you” and “humble yourselves before the lord, and he will exalt you” (vv. 7-10). What better way to submit to God, draw near to God, and express humility before God than by praying?!? Prayer, after all, is such a clear declaration of our dependence upon God as the source of all happiness, blessing, provision, intervention, and any other need. Prayer is the expression of need. Charles Spurgeon said, “Whether we like it or not, asking is the rule of the Kingdom. If you may have everything by asking in His Name, and nothing without asking, I beg you to see how absolutely vital prayer is.” To know that God not only desires our humble prayers, but answers our humble prayers should greatly encourage our prayer lives. But there’s more to prayer than just “asking” God for things, as if He is simply a “bigger” version of Santa Clause. Prayer also communicates an inner desire for more of God in our lives, for His own glory. This is what Jesus modeled when He taught the disciples to pray, “hallowed be Your name” (Matt. 6:9; Luke 11:2). In fact, the late English revivalist, Leonard Ravenhill, said, “A man may study because his brain is hungry for knowledge, even Bible knowledge. But he prays because his soul is hungry for God.” Thankfully, we are aware that those who hunger and thirst for God will always be filled and satisfied (cf. Matt. 5:6; Heb. 11:6).
Writing nearly 300 years ago, Jonathan Edwards reflected on God’s pleasure in humble prayers by penning he following gem:
“God will love to exalt and help to honor such. Luke 14:11, “He that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” It seems that this disposition it is that more peculiarly attracts the Almighty’s bounty, is the only way [to] have God as a Father to us in this world, to keep us in all our ways, to provide for us, to keep us from evils and dangers, and to be our comforter in afflictions and the answerer of our prayers: for God takes most pleasure in the prayer of the humble (Ps. 10:17).” – Jonathan Edwards, The Godly Delight to Exalt God and Lay Themselves Low.
God takes pleasure in humble prayers. Therefore, we pray, “Lord, help us, by the Spirit, to rightly elevate You and to rightly depend upon You and to rightly desire You above all else!”