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The River of God’s Pleasures & Delights – The Ministry of the Holy Spirit

The scriptures make it clear that God is rich with pleasures and delights. They also tell of how, in His loving kindness, God longs to share these riches with us. This is good news indeed!

Heady Stuff Indeed

Long before Jesus was on earth, King David sang of God’s pleasures. In one of his ancient Hebrew songs (Psalm 36:7-8), he extolled the virtues of God, referring to a resource God shares with those who “put their trust under the shadow of thy wings”. King David portrayed it this way, “…and thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures”.

“… the river of thy pleasures”

Who knew God had one of those? Or that when we put our trust in Him we get to drink from it?

Since the word translated here as “pleasures” also means “delights”, we can rightly call this the River of God’s Pleasures and Delights! This is some pretty special stuff, because these are of God’s own pleasures and delights. Heady stuff indeed for us humans to drink of.

Got Delightful Living Water?

Fast forward several hundred years. Jesus is on the earth, and now He’s delivering more good news about divine water for spiritually thirsty people.

On a journey from Judea to Galilee to escape the attention of the Pharisees, Jesus asks a woman of Samaria for a drink. In the ensuing conversation He says to her, “If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water” (John 4:10).

Another time, Jesus goes out into the middle of a crowded feast day in Jerusalem and cries out to everybody in earshot saying, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink!” (John 7:37).

But Jesus didn’t stop there. He went on to promise, “He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38). What a promise that is!

The Living Holy Spirit of God Actually Residing Within Us!

The scriptures immediately clarify what Jesus was referring to, “But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified” (John 7:39). (He was glorified after His death and resurrection.)

Yes, the living Person of the Holy Spirit is the living water that Jesus promised. Oh the joy of having this Spirit of God free in us to flow up out of our own bellies, bringing with Him all the pleasures of God for us to partake of.

As He inhabits us and if we respond to His work in us with a willing heart, this Spirit works to progressively transform us in profoundly satisfying ways. His Presence over time can even turn us human beings into connoisseurs of the fine pleasures of God. So very fulfilling, because this is what we were created for from the beginning.

What Are Some of these Pleasures of God?

We get a sense of what some of these delights are in what the apostle Paul called “the fruit of the Spirit”. This is a spiritual substance that the Holy Spirit Himself brings into our lived experience. Paul’s description of this fruit shows that it is rich with the pleasures of God. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance…” (Galatians 5:22-23).

While people with little emotion might explain that they experience this fruit as behaviors or states of being, some with an abundance of emotion might experience these as powerful and pleasurable emotions. What a joy this can be for emotional people! It’s like getting a bonus benefit from God.

And these emotions are practically useful because they change the words and behaviors that come out of us. In the midst of a difficult situation, these God emotions can replace our own human responses with ones far more enjoyable.

As an example, one of the pleasures in this list is the emotion of God’s peace. This kind of peace is a potent, positive spiritual substance, originating in Jesus, that the Holy Spirit releases into our inner world.

Scriptures call Jesus “the Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). And this Prince of Peace promised to give His own peace to His disciples, saying, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you.” (John 14:27).

The apostle Paul further describes this peace as, “the peace of God, which passeth all understanding”, and says that it “shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7). How lovely to have God’s active peace standing guard over our minds and our hearts, even without a resolution of our troubles. What a miracle that is! Truly water from the River of God’s Pleasures and Delights.

And there are many, many more wonderful flavors of this delightful water – divine sources of love, joy, comfort, hope, faith… All so different from and far more deeply satisfying than the human-sourced versions.

These pleasures of God are available through the Holy Spirit in us – within the measure that He is free to express Himself in us. Our part in fostering His freedom is much of what our spiritual journey in Christ is about.

A Gift of Positive Emotions

Some people are created with a greater capacity for life-giving,  positive emotion. Many highly sensitive people are among them.  We might get a bit happily giddy at times, become overcome with childlike wonder, or respond with much emotion to heart-warming pictures.

Could it be that we were designed this way by God to especially share in His pleasures with Him?

For those of us with this special capacity for positive emotion, how wonderful when we invest our gift in enjoying God’s delights! What affectionate attachment bonds this can build between us and God!

When we do this, we even nurture our hearts and our bodies. “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine…” (Proverbs 17:22). What better way for our hearts to be merry than to be merrily drinking from the river of God’s pleasures, and reflecting back at Him a measure of His own enjoyments!

And as we do so, we also fulfill desires of God’s own heart. Like all who love, He longs to be loved back, and to have loved ones with whom to share His pleasures.

“How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God!” (Psalm 36:7).

My Prayer

Father God, we thank You for giving us Your pleasure-laden Holy Spirit! Transform us into a people out of whom Your Holy Spirit, with all His delights, freely flows! Teach our hearts more and more about Your goodness! Teach our hearts to put our trust in You! Transform us into connoisseurs of Your pleasures! Teach us to connect with You through those positive emotions! The Name of Jesus!


Author’s note: This post was entirely rewritten for re-posting on August 10, 2017.