First and Second Chronicles gives an account of the various kings of Israel, with the latter book focusing on the kings of Judah. The first book includes extensive genealogy from the time of Adam and by the end of the second book, we learn of the history of Israel’s exile into captivity and restoration into the Promised Land. Similar to the Book of Judges, the following promise of Scripture to the nation of Israel is proven: “Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the Lord your God will set you high above all nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the Lord your God…But it shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments and His statutes which I command you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you”. Deuteronomy 28:1-2,15.
Accordingly, when the children of Israel walked according to the ways of the Lord, they received the blessings of obedience and fell to no sword. However, when Israel worshipped false idols and sinned against our Holy God, they suffered the consequences of God’s judgement. As we see in our own lives, much of Israel’s success was dependent upon who their leader was. Under King David – a man after God’s own heart – the children of Israel regularly and wholeheartedly worshipped the One True God and enjoyed a thriving nation (1 Chronicles 14-18). However, under King Ahab – a “man” who allowed his wife to usurp his authority and is recorded as doing “more to provoke the Lord God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him” (1 Kings 16:33) – the children of Israel grew apostate and worshipped wooden images for Baal (1 Kings 16:29-34).
The legacy of one king in particular is worth noting. King Jehoshaphat is recorded as having the Lord walk with him because “he walked in the former ways of his father David; he did not seek the Baals, but sought the God of his father, and walked in His commandments and not according to the acts of Israel”. 2 Chronicles 17:3-4. Clearly, we see from this passage that the Lord walks only with those who are obedient to His commands. But it takes more than just obedience. Technically, the Pharisees were obedient. And we know from the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector, that it was the tax collector who left the temple justified before God (Luke 18:9-14). Verse 6 gives us more insight: “And his heart took delight in the ways of the Lord.” 2 Chronicles 17:6. King Jehoshaphat wasn’t only obedient, but he also delighted in obedience. Anyone who has ever obeyed the instructions of a boss or parent, but did so begrudgingly understands that there is a difference.
A true follower of Christ Jesus has a heart like King Jehoshaphat’s. A converted Christian (as opposed to someone who claims to be a Christian but does not show fruit of repentance – Matthew 3:8) has a heart that delights in the ways of the Lord. Does that mean a regenerated heart does not struggle? Of course not. We all fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), and a righteous man falls down seven times and gets back up (Proverbs 24:16). But a new heart loves the things of God and seeks to be pleasing to Him. So what are the ways of the Lord in which we are to delight?
- Do you delight in reading God’s word? “But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.” Psalm 1:2. A converted Christian loves God’s word and understands that the almighty sovereign Lord speaks to His people through His living word.
- Do you delight when the Holy Spirit convicts you of your sin? “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart – these, O God, You will not despise.” Psalm 51:17. While no one particularly enjoys being rebuked, a converted Christian responds to rebuke with repentance and rejoices that the Lord is pleased by a contrite heart.
- Do you delight in being at church and with God’s people? “One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in His temple.” Under the new covenant, God’s covenant relationship is no longer with a nation. He is in covenant with all who put their faith in His Son (Hebrews 8:7-13). And His Son is coming back for His bride, which is The Church (Revelation 19:7-9). Jesus Christ is the cornerstone of the church, of which His apostles laid the foundation (Ephesians 2:18-20). As believers, we are to gather as a body of believers and maintain and prepare the bride for the bridegroom’s return. While no church is perfect; no pastor is perfect, and every congregation will have someone you might struggle to get along with – the reality is that the love of God is shown by the love God’s people have for one another. (John 17:20-24). And the infallibility of God’s word is lived out by the church faithfully being the pillar of His truth (1 Timothy 3:15). God’s covenant is with His Church. Do you delight in being planted in one?
If you struggle with delighting in the ways of the Lord, I encourage you to repent and ask the Lord to regenerate your heart. God is faithful and merciful, and He promises to be found by all who seek Him (Jeremiah 29:13).
“Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4