Delight, Pleasure, Favor

He does not delight in the strength of the horse; He does not take pleasure in the legs of a man.  The Lord favors those who fear Him, Those who wait for His lovingkindness.

Psalm 147:10-11 NASB

He doesn’t take pleasure in the strength of horses. He doesn’t take delight in the strong legs of warriors.  The Lord takes delight in those who have respect for him. They put their hope in his faithful love.

Psalm 147:10-11 NIrV

Continuing my study of the word delight in the Bible I decided a good place to start was with a comparison of the current English definitions and usages of the words delight as compared to the Greek and Hebrew definitions.

The first thing I notice with reading these two versions of the Bible is that the words “delight” and “take pleasure” seem to be interchangeable. This is confirmed by looking up the words in the dictionary.

Delight and Pleasure

Delight (noun)

  1. a high degree of pleasure or enjoyment; joy; rapture: She takes great delight in her job.
  2. something that gives great pleasure: The dance was a delight to see.

Delight (verb)

to give great pleasure, satisfaction, or enjoyment to; please highly: The show delighted everyone.

Pleasure (verb)

to have great pleasure; take pleasure (followed by in or an infinitive): She delights in going for long walks in the country

Pleasure (noun)

  1. the state or feeling of being pleased.
  2. enjoyment or satisfaction derived from what is to one’s liking; gratification; delight.
  3. worldly or frivolous enjoyment: the pursuit of pleasure.

verb (used with object), pleas·ured, pleas·ur·ing.

to give pleasure to; gratify; please.

verb (used without object), pleas·ured, pleas·ur·ing.

  1. to take pleasure; delight: I pleasure in your company.
  2. to seek pleasure, as by taking a holiday.

The next thing is to take in these verses within the larger context of the Psalm.

Hallelujah! How good it is to sing to our God, for praise is pleasant and lovely. The Lord rebuilds Jerusalem; he gathers Israel’s exiled people. He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds. He counts the number of the stars; he gives names to all of them. Our Lord is great, vast in power; his understanding is infinite. The Lord helps the oppressed but brings the wicked to the ground. Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; play the lyre to our God, who covers the sky with clouds, prepares rain for the earth, and causes grass to grow on the hills.

Psalm 147:1-10 CSB

Pausing to Discover

I’ve learned it’s important to look up English words and confirm the definitions that were understood at the time the English version of the Bible was being interpreted from the original Greek and Hebrew.

Cultural terminology emphasizes or substitutes words at different times in history. A word can change the context of a Bible verse if read with modern interpretations.

Recently words like special, woke, and extra have shifted contextually in some situations. If someone isn’t familiar with the English language or the time period they may read some content inaccurately.

Just like “bless your heart” used with one tone conveys a condescending insult one way and compassionate empathy another, the shift with the word special now implies someone has negative traits rather than positive ones.

It’s vital to ensure that words are still contextually accurate and that we understand the historical context that the writer was living in as they penned their words. David was a warrior, so his words about battle carry much more weight than someone who has never seen the battlefield.

My studies confirm it’s reasonable to conclude that when we read the word delight it’s used synonymously with pleasure, favor, enjoyment, or satisfaction.

Delight and Favor

The Lord favors those who fear him. The Lord delights in those who respect him.

Favor (noun)

  1. something done or granted out of goodwill, rather than from justice or for remuneration; a kind act: to ask a favor.
  2. friendly or well-disposed regard; goodwill: to win the favor of the king.
  3. the state of being approved or held in regard: to be in favor at court; styles that are now in favor.
  4. excessive kindness or unfair partiality; preferential treatment: to treat some people with favor and others with neglect.

Favor (verb)

  1. to regard with favor: to favor an enterprise.
  2. to prefer; treat with partiality: The father favored his younger son.
  3. to aid or support: He favored his party’s cause with ample funds.

Delight

When I break out the synonyms and definitions of delight in this way it confirms to me that the longing for our Savior to delight in us is a good thing.

I long for God to enjoy my choices, and to enjoy a relationship with me. I desire to win the favor of my King. Confirmation of understanding is an important step, but clarifying how delight and favor are part of our relationship with God isn’t something that is clear yet.

Readers Note: As I explored this word in 2017 I participated in Write 31 Days. I’m slowly updating these posts starting in October 2020 to extend what I’ve learned about delight, what God is delighted by, and how delight connects us to our Savior.

31 Days on Delight