“As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight.” (Psalm 16:3)
How do you feel about your church? I don’t mean the building, of course. Nor do I mean the Sunday services, or the preaching, or the leaders, or the programme, or the welcome team, or the mission statement, or any other aspect of church life. I’m referring to how you feel about your church in the ecclesia (gathering) sense. How do you feel about the brothers and sisters that you gather with week by week for worship – are they a source of sheer delight to you?
King David tells us that “all my delight” is in “the saints in the land”, that’s to say in other believers. He refers to them as “the excellent ones” (or majestic ones). Now this is Hebrew poetry, of course. David is using exaggerated, poetic language here to make his point. He’s just made it clear that apart from the LORD he has “no good” (verse 2) and he goes on to refer to the LORD as “my chosen portion and my cup” (verse 5). So clearly David doesn’t literally find all his delight in other believers. He doesn’t delight in them instead of or before the one true God, who forbids us to worship or bow down to anyone or anything other than him.
No, the LORD himself is David’s ultimate source of delight. He recognises that everything good in his life flows from his relationship with God. Surely what he’s telling us is that when it comes to hanging out with other people, if you were to ask him who he’d prefer to spend time with – other believers would always get his vote. And it makes sense if you think about it. If God is the source of all good and the one that your heart delights in and cherishes the most, well why wouldn’t you want to be with other people who think and feel the same way?
Sadly, our churches aren’t always full of people who are consistently delighting in God from Monday through to Saturday. And if you and I are honest with ourselves, we’ll recognise that delighting in God more than anyone or anything else isn’t always a mark of our lives either. This perhaps goes some way to explaining those periods in my life (and I’ve had several) where I’ve stayed away from church and preferred the company of my unbelieving friends. But that’s not a good situation for any Christian to be in. And it’s a sure sign that something is seriously wrong, either with me or my church, or possibly both.
Now, of course, the church will always have difficult people. And in all likelihood, each of us will be seen as ‘difficult’ to at least one other person in our church, for any number of different reasons. I might be a consistently godly, gentle, gracious person; but even this could be a cause for envy in the heart of a fellow believer (or churchgoer). But let’s pray for the grace to truly delight in our brothers and sisters in Christ as we meet with them and have fellowship with them during this coming week.
Perhaps we should ask God to help us delight especially in the more difficult people at church. Who knows that maybe my delighting in them – despite their weaknesses and their awkward character traits – will prove to be a means of grace that God will use to make them increasingly more delightful people to be around!