As I studied from Psalm 37:4 this morning I was reminded of a particular holiday that my wife and I enjoyed at the Inn at the Tides in the coastal town of Bodega Bay,* located in the heart of the Sonoma County Coast in northern California. The verse encourages us to “Be happy with (or ‘delight thyself in’ as the KJV puts it) the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” (God’s Word ©)
It is my personal contention that neither one of these translations accurately capture the true picture of the intended meaning. According to Strong’s the phrase “Be happy or Delight thyself in” is actually instructing the reader “to be soft or pliable” or better yet infers to having a “luxurious” experience. Brown-Driver-Briggs’ Hebrew definitions says that it means “to pamper or take exquisite delight.”
I have mentioned numerous times in this blog that my wife and I tend to be outdoorsy type people. We would most often take a campground in the Sierra Nevada Mountains over a fancy hotel or resort in a busy tourist attraction. We actually have many friends and family members who would give anything to go to Disneyland on vacation. And I must admit that almost every time I hear them dream about this, I find myself questioning inside as to “Why?” In my book, the noise and busyness of the park and the congestion on the Southern California streets around the park cannot hold a candle to the quiet solitude and unparalleled beauty of a mountain peak, a cold Alpine lake and the majesty of a hawk flying overhead.
But before I receive a pile of contrasting comments, let me say that I can also see the draw and know how much my kids enjoy the amusement park! It just is not my first choice of an enjoyable and restful summer vacation! With that said, I must also be honest and say that my wife and I did enjoy a mid-week holiday a few times a year (when possible) at a nice lodge on our nearby coast.
The particular holiday that I mentioned above took place on the advent of our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary back in 2000. In honor of this special occasion we decided to splurge and go with what we considered fancy and booked a suite at the upscale resort, The Inn at the Tides. This lodge in Bodega Bay is built on a hillside bordering the meandering State Highway One that basically hugs the California coast from Oregon to Mexico. Our room was located on the very top of the hill with a commanding view of the small bay and Pacific Ocean to the west and a green meadow to the east.
What I recalled this morning was the rich, gold terrycloth robes that the lodge offers to all their guests. Not being one who normally enjoys hanging around in pajamas and a bathrobe, I was surprised when we noticed many of the guests walking from their rooms in the chilly coastal night down to the large heated and semi-covered pool and Jacuzzi facility located immediately downhill from our accommodations. I’m not sure why, but my wife and I decided to join the fad and also put on the bathrobes as we enjoyed the rest of the wonderful night viewing the reflections of the moonlit night on the bay. I guess it just seemed real luxurious us to us country folks!
I think that is exactly what the Psalmist was talking about in Psalms 37:4. He wasn’t just saying to be delighted or happy in Papa God, but to smother yourself in the luxurious beauty of His righteousness. To pamper yourself in His goodness and love like we pampered ourselves during that holiday on the Coast. I have a picture of Piper leaning on a lamppost near our red Camaro in front of Lucas Wharf, a restaurant across the highway from our lodge and perched on the bay where the fishing boats dock. She was posed with a relaxed smile, enjoying a snack we had bought at the eating establishment.
During those three days and two nights we simply absorbed ourselves in as much of the uniqueness of the coastal town that we could. We bought ceramic lighthouses and salt water taffy at the funky pink striped store, fish and chips at a snack bar on the dock, took pictures of the cows spread out along the rolling hills behind the resort, sat and watched the fisherman as they unloaded their catch and relaxed on our private deck while listening to the soothing sounds of the distant fog horn guiding the fishing fleet through the breakwater protecting the sheltered bay.
This is how Papa God wants us to live in Him! He desires that we live totally absorbed in the luxury of His presence. He wants that we would live our daily existence in a state of rest and peace, not exist in a lifestyle that is predicated by mistrust, fear and criticism of others who might differ from you. Albert Barnes states that “The word rendered ‘delight’ means properly to live delicately… to be tender and delicate; then, to live a life of ease or pleasure; then, to find delight or pleasure in anything. The meaning here is that we should seek our happiness in God – his being, his perfections, his friendship, his love.”
Jesus made the definition of this lifestyle pretty simple as He summed it, as well as all the commandments of the Law up in one word: “LOVE” – His Love! So go out and take a much needed vacation today, and every day! Let go of the worries, the concerns, the pressures of life and the frustrations of what others may think, say or do about you… put on a luxurious gold terrycloth robe of His Righteousness and “Delight thyself also in the Lord…” (Psalm 37:4). Saturate yourself in the uniqueness of God and His kingdom! Have a great day. Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What or Whom am I expecting to luxuriate in today?”
*If any of you are old enough to remember the Alfred Hitchcock movie “The Birds” then you would be familiar with this tiny hamlet as the 1963 classic thriller was filmed on location in Bodega Bay. It is still their claim to fame as many of the establishments in the town display original pictures and newspaper articles highlighting the filming of the move!