1 Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge. 2 I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.” 3 As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight. 4 The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply; their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out or take their names on my lips. 5 The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. 6 The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance. 7 I bless the LORD who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. 8 I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. 9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. 10 For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. 11 You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
Jonathan Edwards once said, “True Religion, in great part, consists in the affections.”(The Religious Affections)
Affections can seem ethereal, changeable, and sometimes untrustworthy. However, this is not the definition that the reformers gave it. The definition of these “affections” (or what most people today mean by feelings) is: “the more vigorous and sensible exercises of the inclination and will of the soul.” In other words, the feelings that really matter are not mere physical sensations. They are the stirring up of the soul with some perceived treasure or threat.
That is what this Psalm is all about. It’s theme is one’s affections centred on God. It is “affection” that gives this psalm its unity and ardour. In so far as it can be divided, it sings of the chosen loyalty in verses 1–6, and the blessings that come to meet it in 7–11.
This Psalm is peppered with references to affections: delight (v3), sorrow (v4), pleasant places (v6), beautiful inheritance (v6), glad (v9), rejoices (v9), fullness of joy (v11), pleasures forevermore (v11).
This psalm bids us to embrace our privilege, the privilege of joy, and our inheritance (v3). It warns that turning away from God at whose right hand there are pleasures evermore (v11) will only lead to a multiplication of sorrow (v4),
Dorothy Sayers once said, “The Dogma is the Drama.” Often we have made God and the godly life the most boring thing out there. There is no one more exciting more enjoyable, more thrilling and more challenging than God himself. Yet we have sought to tame Him or turn from Him.
Often we can be like the child who is offered a holiday at the sea and choose to stay in our own little muddy puddle because we are unaware of the stunning beauty, or sheer joy of the offer. Thinking that mud and muddy water is more beautiful than the seaside and the sea.
The Psalmist speaks of the root that drives us humans and that root is pleasure. We seek for pleasure granting experiences, relationships, jobs, holiday and the like whilst forsaking He who is Pleasure itself.
Jesus came to unleash us into a life of joyful pursuit of Him and free us from the addiction of false pleasures. Both Peter, in his sermon at Pentecost (Acts 2:25–28), and Paul, in the synagogue at Antioch (Acts 13:35), interpret this Psalm as about Jesus, the Holy One, who delivers us from the grave and leads us into joy. The pleasure that has begun in this life will continue into its fullness in the world to come. (v11)
The motivating factor for Jesus’ self-sacrifice was pleasure, “who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning it’s shame.”(Heb 12:2). You can hear Him say, “Nothing would bring me greater pleasure than rescuing you.”
May our heart cry to God, “Nothing would bring me greater pleasure than gloryfing You and enjoying You forever.” (Westminster Catechism)