The Step of Delight - Part I
Dr. Joe Temple

Review

Open your Bibles, please, to Psalm 122:

Psalms 122

1I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD.
2Our feet shall stand within thy gates, O Jerusalem.
3Jerusalem is builded as a city that is compact together:
4Whither the tribes go up, the tribes of the LORD, unto the testimony of Israel, to give thanks unto the name of the LORD.
5For there are set thrones of judgment, the thrones of the house of David.
6Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee.
7Peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy palaces.
8For my brethren and companions' sakes, I will now say, Peace be within thee.
9Because of the house of the LORD our God I will seek thy good.

Notice, please, under the number of the psalm what we have referred to as a superscription. It reads, “A Song of Degrees.” This psalm is written by David. We have begun a devotional study of the book of Psalms, with Psalm 120 and concluding with Psalm 134. Each of these psalms is characterized in the Scriptures by the term, “A Song of Degrees.”

We suggested that most of them are anonymous. David wrote five of them, but they are all related in that they are all songs of degrees. We pointed out that the word “degrees” can be translated “ascents” and it is so translated in some Bibles. We also pointed out to you that the word could also be translated “stairs,” and we said that many Bible scholars look upon this particular section of the book of Psalms as the Pilgrim's Staircase.

These psalms describe the individual steps of spiritual growth in the believer's experience. Most of you have, at some time, sung the words of the hymn. “I'm pressing on the upward way, new heights I'm gaining every day.” I would like for you to think about these psalms as new heights, new steps, which you may gain in your spiritual experience as you grow in the Lord.

We noticed Psalm 120 as the first step in the staircase, and we called that step the “Step of Distress,” because it begins with the words, “In my distress I cried unto the Lord, and he heard me.” We reminded you that no spiritual growth is possible unless you reach a place where you realize you are absolutely nothing; you are in distress; you have a need, and you have to cry out to God to meet that need. The psalmist did, and he said, “God heard me, and God delivered me.”

So he took the next step, a step which is described in Psalm 121, which we referred to as the “Step of Deliverance,” because the psalmist begins it with the words, “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills. From whence cometh my help? My help cometh from the Lord which made the heavens and the earth.” We pointed out to you the psalmist was not suggesting that his help was coming from the hills. He was suggesting that, as he gazed at God's great handiword, he was reminded that God who made those hills, God who made the heavens and the earth was his God who proved his deliverance.

The Third Step

Now we are ready to take the third step–the step which is described in Psalm 122, the step which we are calling the “Step of Delight.” It is the next step that you take once you have been born-again. It is the next step that you take once you have come into right relationship to the Lord. It is the step of delight in fellowship with the people of God. I want you to think with me about this third step of the Pilgrim's Staircase as representing that delight which every believer should have in assembling with the saints of God.

Delight In the House of the Lord

Look again, please, at verse 1 of David's declaration of delight when the thought was suggested to him:

Psalms 122

1I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD.

That needs no particular comment, but I hope the Holy Spirit will minister it to you in your hearts by way of heart searching. How do you feel when it is suggested that you come to the house of the Lord? Is it something that is a task for you? Is it something that is more than you would like to do? Is it something that you had rather not do? Think about it. Only the Spirit can minister that question where it is needed. “I was glad when they said unto me, let us go into the house of the Lord.”

David's Description

I would like for you to notice with me David's description of the house of the Lord. In these days of apostasy and confusion, I think if we arre honest we are going to have to admit that there are some so-called houses of the Lord which provide no particular joy for us when we go to them. There are so many so-called houses of God that offer so little that we would have to stretch a point to say that we were glad to go to t hat particular place.

Privilege of Public Worship

David describes the house of the Lord, in verse 2, as a place of privilege. Look at verse 2 where David says:

David was in utter amazement that he had the privilege of standing within the gates of Jerusalem. What a privilege it was! And I wonder if we fully appreciate the privilege which is ours. I wonder if we fully appreciate the privilege we have in this land of ours to gather in a place where no one can tell us what to do, what to think, or how to say it, and where we can enjoy the privileges related to the ministry of the Word of God.

I wonder if you people here at the Bible Church realize the privilege of sitting under the sound of the Word. Forget me; I'm not talking about myself. But I wonder if you realize the privilege of sitting under the sound of the Word of God. I believe one of the reasons why we are sending tapes and printed sermons to nearly every state in the union and twenty-two foreign countries is because there is a hunger for the Word of God. There is so little of the Word of God given out in most places. Do you thank God that there is a place like the Bible Church where you can come and sit under the Word of God? We ought to consider it a place of privilege, just as David did when he said, “My feet are standing, this day, in the city of Jerusalem.”

A Place of Partnership

Let me suggest to you that David considered the house of the Lord a place of partnership. That is brought to our mind by what we find in verse 3:

And notice verse 8:

A Place of Fellowship

Jerusalem, the house of God, was not only a place of privilege but also of partnership because it was the place where brethren and companions met together.

Glance back at verse 3 and notice the word “compact.” It is a tranlation of a Hebrew word which really means “fellowship.” What we are reading is, “Jerusalem is builded as a city for a place of fellowship.” That is what God intended it for. That is what God intended the place of assembly to be–a place of fellowship, according to the Scriptures.

Now, we are not talking about coffee and donuts, not man's idea of fellowship. If your fellowship is no deeper than a cup of coffee, God help you. Yet there are multitudes of people today who seek out places where they can have that kind of fellowship. I say to you that the house of God of which David speaks is a house of God which is a place of fellowship where brethren and companies meet together.

I like the way David expresses it in Psalm 119, verse 63:

Psalms 119

63I am a companion of all them that fear thee……….

That is a wonderfufl companionship to have. May I suggest to you young people who will be going out and seeking new companionship that you seek companionship among those who love the Lord. The Bible says that evil communication corrupts good manners (I Corinthians 15:33). Don't be deceived; evil companionships corrupt even the best testimony.

A Place of Praise

Indeed, this house of God of which David speaks was a place of partnership, but glance at verse 4 again as I remind you that it was a place of praise as well. Notice verse 4:

Psalms 122

4Whither the tribes go up, the tribes of the LORD, unto the testimony of Israel, to give thanks unto the name of the LORD.

It is a place of praise. Will you let that statement search your hearts? When you gather together in the name of the Lord in the appointed place of worship, what is your purpose of gathering? What do you do while you are there? Do you count the tiles on the ceiling? What do you do when you come to the house of God?

These folk came to the house of God for one purpose and that was to give thanks unto the Lord–to praise the Lord! They came to praise the Lord for His goodness and His faithfulness.

Now all of you may not have a place where you want to worship. May I suggest to you that, if you do not have a place where you want to go to worship, you ought to find a place. If that is an impossibility, and God has placed you in a trying circumstance where there is n o real place of fellowship, go to a place that is the house of God. So long as you don't have to surrender any conviction related to the Word of God, go to that place and, even though you do not get anything out of the message, praise the Lord. Thank God for His goodness, and you will be amazed at the delight that will come to your heart when you are able to spend your time praising Him.

Commanded to Be Thankful

Look at one other phrase in verse 4:

Psalms 122

4Whither the tribes go up, the tribes of the LORD, unto the testimony of Israel……….

It sounds like the reason they were going up was to give a testimony, but in the original text what it really says is, “according to the commandment to Israel.” You see, it is a privilege to be in the house of the Lord. It is a privilege to be in the house of the Lord to give thanks. Not only is it a privilege, but it is a command from the Lord to be thankful.

That is the reason the Apostle Paul could say in his Thessalonian letter, “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (I Thessalonians 5:18). There should be thanksgiving welling up in your heart every day of your life. I am talking about assembling ourselves with the people of God. I am talking about the delight that there ought to be in every believer's heart as he mounts his spiritual staircase, recognizing that it is good to be with the people of God.

A Place of Peace

Look at verse 5, as I suggest to you something else about the house of God in which David took delight. In verse 5 we read:

Psalms 122

5For there are set thrones of judgment, the thrones of the house of David.
6Pray for the peace of Jerusalem……
7Peace be within thy walls…….

I want to suggest to you that the house of which David speaks was a place of privilege, of partnership, of priase and it was a place of peace. I call to your attention verse 5. Aside from the literal interpretation, when the throne of God will literally be set in the city of Jerusalem during the Millennium, and the thrones which you and I will sit upon to rule the world, these thrones are set for the solution of problems.

The house of God in which David rejoiced was a place in which problems were solved. One of the things that believers need today is for problems to be solved and burdens lifted. And before I come into the pulpit I pray that God will let me say something that will solve the problem of some individual.

Do you have a problem? Is there something bothering you today? Is there something that is difficult for you? If you don't have the answer to it, I want to suggest to you that you can find the answer in the Word of God. It has the answer for any problem you may have. One of the ways to find that answer in the Word of God is in the assembly of the saints.

I am not speaking of every place that is called a house of God. I am speaking about the house of God in which David rejoiced. I will say to you that though you may not find your sanctuary in a building that has “Church” written above the door, there is a sanctuary for you. If you find that quiet place away from all the press and stress related to this world in which we are living, you'll find the solution to your problem.

A Place of Prosperity

I would like to suggest that the house of God in which David delighted was a place of prosperity. We noticed the word several times mentioned. Look at verses 6 and 7:

Psalms 122

6Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee.
7Peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy palaces.

Notice the word “prosper” and the word “prosperity,” as I suggest to you that I am not speaking of material prosperity, although God may give it to you; I'm speaking of something else. This word is a translation of a Hebrew word translated three different ways in the Scriptures. The word translated “prosperity” in this psalm is translated by the word “tranquillity” in chapter 4, verse 27, in the book of Daniel. David is saying that if you go to the house of God that I'm speaking about, and if you learn to fellowship with the saints of God, you will find a spirit of tranquillity sweeping over your very being.

In chapter 3 of the book of Job, verse 26, this same word is translated by the English word “safety.” He says you'll find a certain safety and security in fellowship with the people of God.

In chapter 20, verse 20, of the book of Job, this same word is translated by “an inner quietness.” Job said that he was so distressed and so disturbed that he didn't have any quietness in his heart and in his spirit. “There is not quietness,” he said. “There are all kinds of disturbances.” It is the very same word.

David says that if you come to the house of the Lord and learn to fellowship with the people of God, you will find a quietness and a tranquillity of your soul.

Need for Personal Communion

In conclusion I suggest to you that the third step in the Pilgrim's Staircase is delight–delight in fellowshiping with the people of God. And in our next lesson we will still be discussing delight. It won't be delight in what we might refer to as public worship; it will be delight in personal, private communion with the Lord. I want you to recognize that they are both on the same step. You can't have one without the other.

If you think that every spiritual need you have will be met because you go to church, you are wrong. There has to be that private time, too. And if you think that all of your needs can be met by that private time, you are wrong. We have been discussing the public time in this lesson.

Are you growing? Are you gaining new heights? Are you progressing in your Christian experience? You might find the answer in how much delight you have in associating with the people of God.


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