"He sent from above, he took me, he drew me out of many waters. He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from them which hated me: for they were too strong for me. They prevented me in the day of my calamity: but the Lord was my stay. He brought me forth also into a large place; he delivered me, because he delighted in me" (Psalm 18:16–19, my italics).
In this psalm, David was looking back after a great deliverance. He was rejoicing because the Lord had rescued him from his enemies. Saul had put a bounty on his head and chased him relentlessly, forcing David to sleep in caves, dens and open fields.
David said of that dark time, "The sorrows of hell surrounded me, and I lived in distress. Ungodly men made me afraid. They all hated me." But God came roaring out of the heavens to deliver David: "He bowed the heavens also, and came down…The Lord also thundered in the heavens…He delivered me from my strong enemy" (18:9, 13, 17).
The enemy had come in like a flood. Yet David was able to say, "God came roaring forth to pull me out of the swirling waters. He rescued me from all my troubles!"
The Holy Spirit gave David a revelation that is the key to all deliverance.
David could say, "The reason God delivered me from all my enemies — from all my sorrows and the powers of hell — is because I am precious to him. My God delights in me!" "He brought me forth also into a large place; he delivered me, because he delighted in me" (Psalm 18:19).
Do you need deliverance? From lust, a temptation or trial? From a problem that's mental, spiritual, emotional or physical? The key to your victory is in this verse. God delights in you. You are precious to him!
In Song of Solomon, the Lord says of his bride: "How fair and how pleasant art thou, O love, for delights!" (Song of Solomon 7:6). Three of the Hebrew words in this verse are synonymous: fair, meaning, "precious"; pleasant, indicating "pleasure"; and delights.
These words describe Jesus' thoughts toward his bride as he beholds her. He looks at her and says, "How beautiful, sweet and delightful you are. You are precious to me, O love." In turn, the bride boasts, "I am my beloved's, and his desire is toward me" (7:10). The meaning here is, "He runs after me with delight. He chases me because I am so precious to him."
These same thoughts are found throughout the Psalms: "The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy" (Psalm 147:11). "The Lord taketh pleasure in his people: he will beautify the meek with salvation" (149:4).
I can try to convince you of God's delight in you by telling you, "You are precious to the Lord." Yet you may think, "That's sweet. But it's only a lovely thought."
No, this truth is much more than a lovely thought. It is the very key to your deliverance from every battle that rages in your soul. It is the secret to entering into the rest God has promised you. Until you lay hold of it — until it becomes a foundation of truth in your heart — you won't be able to withstand the trials of life.
Isaiah had a revelation of God's great delight in us. He prophesied, "O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee" (Isaiah 43:1–2).
Isaiah wasn't talking about a literal flood or fire. He was talking about what people go through spiritually and mentally. Israel was in captivity at the time; their floods were trials, their fires were temptations, their rivers were testings. These were all Satan's attempts to destroy and overwhelm God's people.
Isaiah's words were a message of pure mercy to Israel.
The people were in captivity because of their own stupidity and foolishness. But God sent them a brokenhearted prophet who said, "God wants me to tell you that you belong to him."
Right now, you may be in the midst of your own swirling waters. You may feel overwhelmed by a trial or temptation that threatens to consume you.
You've got to understand from these biblical examples that the Lord does not always calm the waters. He doesn't always keep the floods from coming or put out the fires. Yet he does promise this: "I will walk with you through it all. This trial or circumstance will not destroy you. It won't consume you. So, walk on. You'll come out on the other side with me beside you."
That was all the three Hebrew children needed to hear. When they were thrown into the fiery furnace, a fourth man was there with them: Jesus. They didn't get burned. In fact, their clothes and hair didn't even smell of smoke. That's the kind of deliverance God wants to bring you in your spiritual valley.
What is God's motivation for wanting to deliver you? Is it because you have done something to appease him? Have you increased your prayer time? Do you spend more hours reading Scripture? All this is good. But Isaiah had the true revelation: "Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee… Fear not: for I am with thee" (Isaiah 43:4–5).
God was saying to Israel, "You're about to go through fires and floods. But don't worry, I'll walk with you through them all. And I'll deliver you in the end simply because you're mine. I know you by name. And you are a delight to my heart."
"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast" (Ephesians 2:8–9).
Even if you lived to be 500 years old, you wouldn't live long enough to please God by your own doings.
It doesn't matter how hard you may try to clean yourself up. Your flesh isn't accepted before God; it can't even be reformed. All flesh was done away with at the cross. Now a new man has come forth: the Christ man. True faith is having confidence in what he has done for you.
You may say, "Oh, I can believe that God delights in faithful pastors. They pray and spend so much time in his Word. I can believe that elders are precious to him. They've endured sufferings, testings and trials, and they've come out victorious.
"But I find it hard to believe that a troubled, failing Christian like me could be precious to God. He has to be disgusted with me because my life is so up–and–down. I've got problems I can't seem to get through. I believe he still loves me, but surely he is disappointed in me."
Please understand: Isaiah's wonderful prophecy of grace was spoken to a people who had been robbed, spoiled, snared and cast into prison — all because of their own foolishness and unbelief. It was at that point God said to them, "Now — after all your failures — I come to you with this message of hope. And it's all because you're mine."
I will never forget the pain I endured when one of my teenage children came to me and confessed, "Dad, I've never once felt as if I've pleased you. I've never felt worthy of your love. I feel like I've let you down my whole life. You must be really disappointed in me."
No words ever hurt me more. I asked myself what I might have done to make my child feel that way. Then, hurting deeply inside myself, I embraced my tearful young one. I thought, "How wrong! I've shown this child my love. I've spoken it and demonstrated it time after time. All my other children feel secure in my love. How could this child carry such a misconception for so long and bear such unnecessary misery and guilt?"
I told my beloved child, "You've always been special to me. Why, you've been the apple of my eye! I think of you and my whole being lights up. Sure, you've done foolish things at times, but so have your brothers and sisters. And you were forgiven. You were truly sorry, and I never once thought less of you. You're nothing but a joy to me. You've made me happy all your lifetime. You've been a delight to my heart!"
So it is with many Christians in their relationship with the heavenly Father.
The devil has convinced these believers they've only disappointed God and will never please him. So they simply don't accept God's love. Instead, they live as if his wrath is always breathing down on them. What a horrible way to go through life! And how pained God is when he sees his children living this way.
Perhaps you were raised in an un–loving, uncaring family. Maybe your mother or father or siblings made you feel as if you weren't worth anything. You never felt special or precious to anybody. No one ever put his arms around you and said, "I love you. You're special to me. I'm so proud of you!"
How many children have grown up wanting to be special to their father or mother? And how many adults today struggle with perfectionism because they never felt precious or delightful to a parent?
Over the years I've been moved to tears at the sad childhood stories of drug–addicted men and women. Many have told me their mother or father taunted them, yelling, "You're good for nothing! You'll never amount to anything the rest of your life." They grew up feeling absolutely worthless, as if they meant nothing to anyone.
Today, our streets are filled with run away children who have been robbed of all sense of worthiness. They feel special to no one. So they give themselves to the first person on the street who makes them feel a little special. They offer their bodies to pimps, lust–driven men and women, other teenagers — anyone who makes them think they're worth something.
Oh, thank God for Jesus! To him, you have always been precious. It doesn't matter what kind of home life you had or what your earthly parents were like. None of that can ever compare to the love of your heavenly Father. From the day you were born you've been special to him!
"The adulteress will hunt for the precious life" (Proverbs 6:26).
The adulteress spoken of in this verse is Satan. And he hunts down those who are precious to God. The Bible gives us a vivid illustration of this, in Numbers 13–14. Israel had sent twelve spies to search out the Promised Land. When the spies returned after forty days, ten of them planted three lies in the hearts of God's people:
These lies took the heart right out of Israel. Scripture says the people endured a night of despair: "All the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night" (Numbers 14:1). More than 2 million people were weeping, wailing, moaning — focused completely on their weaknesses and inabilities. Their wails of unbelief bombarded heaven.
Beloved, the devil throws the same three lies at God's people today: "Your trials are too numerous. Your temptations are too overwhelming. You are too weak to resist the power coming against you."
Take a good, hard look at that scene. Do you see yourself in the midst of it? Have you ever spent a night like that one — wailing because of demonic lies planted in your spirit? Have you ever cried out, "I've had it. I can't take any more! These strongholds in me will never come down. It's all over for me. I've lost the battle."
The Word that God spoke to Israel is for us today also: "Ye shall be a special treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine" (Exodus 19:5). "Thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God, and the Lord hath chosen thee to be a peculiar [precious, special] people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth" (Deuteronomy 14:2).
I'm sure Israel felt precious and special to the Lord when he first saved them. After he delivered them from bondage in Egypt, opened the Red Sea and rescued them from Pharaoh's army, they must have said, "Look at the great miracles God performed on our behalf. He really loves us!"
Most Christians today would say the same thing about their Savior and Lord: "Oh, yes, God saved me from sin. Look at everything he delivered me from. I must be special to him!"
My question is: What happened? In just a few years, many Christians become like ancient Israel. All the problems and trials of life come upon them, and they think, "We once were precious in God's eyes — enough to be saved, that is. But now, after serving him these years, we're only grasshoppers. We're meat for our enemies."
Such defeated believers no longer sense God's delight in them. In fact, many believe God has forsaken them. When Israel said, "We are grasshoppers in the eyes of the giants," they actually were saying, "God has treated us like helpless insects that are about to be stomped to death. Our enemy is going to smash us into the ground. We're no better off than bugs."
Joshua and Caleb were of a different spirit.
Joshua and Caleb were among that group of twelve spies who were sent out. But unlike the others, they came back full of hope. They didn't bemoan their condition. Instead, they rejoiced after searching out the land. They were full of faith and vision.
You see, Joshua and Caleb had a revelation of their preciousness in God's eyes. They knew Israel was special to the Lord. That was the key to their hopeful spirit. Joshua said, "If the Lord delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it to us" (Numbers 14:8). In other words: "Because he delights in us, the land is as good as ours already."
This is the same revelation David had: "He brought me out and delivered me — because he delighted in me!" Likewise, every victorious Christian today has this same revelation of their loving heavenly Father: "We can't fail. All our enemies are meat for us, because we're precious to the Lord!"
Here is the great mercy of God in the preaching of Joshua and Caleb. Israel had spent the night in rebellion, wallowing in unbelief, weeping as though God had forsaken them. Finally, they appointed a captain to lead them back to Egypt. But the Lord sent them Joshua and Caleb, who told them, "In spite of your night of confusion, your moaning and complaining, God delights in you. He will lead you forward. Fear not, for you are precious to him!"
Yet there is a warning here also. Israel refused to believe God's message about how precious they were in his eyes. They preferred to focus on their condition — their weaknesses and inabilities. They gave in to their fears.
Finally, God ran out of patience with them. He said to Israel: "How long will this people provoke me? And how long will it be ere they believe me, for all the signs which I have shewed among them? I will…disinherit them" (Numbers 14:11–12).
The Lord forgave Israel for Moses' sake. But they weren't permitted to enter into the land. Instead, they were assigned a wilderness existence, a life given over to constant fear and destructive doubts. In short, they were being saved and forgiven but remained miserable. They had lost the hope, rest and peace that come from accepting how special God's children are to him.
The only time God's patience runs out with us today is when we refuse again and again to accept how much he loves us. Many Christians today have been turned back into a wilderness of their own making. They have no joy, no victory. To look at them, you'd think God had forsaken them years ago. No — he has simply turned them over to their own complaining and murmuring.
Thank God, Joshua and Caleb entered into the Promised Land. And they stood as green trees in his house until their dying days. They were men of power and vision, because they knew they were precious to God.
You also are precious to the Lord, in spite of your problems and failures. You can be a green tree in God's house, just as Joshua and Caleb were. Simply stand on what his Word promises: "He brought me forth also into a large place; he delivered me, because he delighted in me" (Psalm 18:16–19). That is the foundation of true faith!