The Lord Takes Pleasure

“How good it is to sing praises to our God,” the psalmist says, “for he is gracious, and a song of praise is fitting.”

Grace, of course, is unmerited favor, being treated better than we deserve. People have a strong sense of deserving these days, and when we get what we deserve there’s no reason to be especially grateful. But grace, that quality of blessing people freely out of sheer good will, is so fresh and unexpected that it can’t help but evoke gratitude and praise. “Thank you so much! It was so gracious of you to do that!”

A song of praise is fitting indeed, when we recognize the gracious gifts of God. And it turns out, those gifts are all around us.

The psalmist mentions a few that come to mind, and everywhere he looks, he finds more. God heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He lifts up the downtrodden and gathers in those who were scattered from their homes. God is good to human beings, but God’s grace extends to all creation. He gives to the animals their food. He prepares rain for the earth and makes the grass grow on the hills. He determines the number of the stars and calls them all by name.

The psalmist finds it all the more remarkable that the same God who stretches out the vast expanse of the heavens can still find room in his heart for every wounded human being. God is so big that the smallest suffering never escapes his notice, or his care.

Why does God do that? Apparently because God loves what he has made, especially those creatures who have some idea of what love is, and the joy that comes from sharing it. “The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him,” the psalmist says, where fear is not the sort of reaction we have to snakes and spiders, but the enormous awe and wonder we feel in the presence of one who could as easily ignore us or destroy us, but chooses instead to love us as his own.

So we find our hope in God, and God takes pleasure in that too. As parents love to love their children, and be loved by them, so God loves to love us. The Lord takes pleasure in love, and he comes as Emanuel, God with us, to make sure we know how much.

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