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Living In Full Enjoyment

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Many people try to find some means of living a full life of enjoyment. Unfortunately, too often it is centered in one’s own selfish desires or designed plans. Psalm 37 is a key text in pointing to distinctive ways in which to find true enjoyment of life. The Psalm is an instructive Psalm, formulated as an alphabetic acrostic. Within this carefully formed Psalm there are three places in which the matter of enjoying life is pointed out.

In verses 3-7 one learns that true enjoyment is found in a whole soul commitment to God. First, it states that if one puts his full trust in the Lord, he can find true enjoyment: “Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture” (v. 3). Genuine trust produces a safe, pleasure filled life. Further, it is the first step in pointing out the need and rewards for a whole soul commitment to the Lord: intellect (v. 3), emotions (v. 4) and a subjecting of one’s will to God (vv. 5-7a). The reward for such yielding of the full person to the Lord is assurance of freedom from evil doers (v. 7b-c).

So it is that in a little while the self-centered person will be brought to judgment, while the meek will fully enjoy great peace (vv. 10-11). Moreover, the righteous will have plenty to enjoy (vv. 18-20). Yes, even in dire times “They will enjoy plenty” (v. 19), “but the wicked will perish” (v. 20). Such is available through the help that God will give. As another Psalmist affirms, “Remember me, O LORD when you show favor to your people, come to my aid when you save them, that I may enjoy the prosperity of your chosen ones” (Ps. 106:4-5a). It is the case that “a tyrannical ruler lacks judgment, but he who hates ill-gotten gain will enjoy a long life” (Prov. 28:16). A wise person is careful in what comes in his speech, for such will enable a righteous person to enjoy “good things”:

From the fruit of the lips a man enjoys good things,
but the unfaithful have a craving for violence.
He who guards his lips guards his life,
but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin. (Prov. 13:2-3)

His will be a happy life. Accordingly, while he lives he can and will “enjoy his life and work” (Prov. 3:22; cf. 5:18-20). Interestingly, Solomon goes on to point out that a further step should be: “When God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work – this is a gift of God” (Eccl. 5:19). As Kaiser observes, “It is much better to receive wealth as a gift from God, along with the God-given ability to enjoy it, then to see wealth as an end in itself.”1

From the above texts and discussion it is apparent that it is foolish to so live as to crave wealth. So it is that the author of Ecclesiastes says words to that effect:

God gives a man wealth, possessions and honor, so that he lacks nothing his heart desires, but God does not enable him to enjoy them, and a stranger enjoys them instead. This is meaningless, a grievous evil. A man may have a hundred children and live many years; yet no matter how long he lives, if he cannot enjoy his prosperity and does not receive proper burial, I say that a stillborn child is better off than he (Eccl. 6:2-3).

By these words the author (traditionally believed to be Solomon) is declaring, “Man can acquire nothing unless God permits him to have it.”2 Indeed, it is the Lord, not man, who provides man’s (especially the believer) enjoyment. With this truth in mind, let us all follow the Psalmist’s advice to rejoice in the Lord: “Come, let us rejoice in Him” (Ps. 66:6).

As the hymn writer expresses it:

Rejoice, ye pure in heart;
rejoice, give thanks and sing.
the cross of Christ, your King.
Rejoice, rejoice; rejoice, give thanks and sing!3

Editor’s Note: If it is not clear enough from the article itself, this article is not intended to advocate any kind of “prosperity theology” where physical blessing is guaranteed or trials absent. It rather points out that true enjoyment is found in seeking God first. This may include physical blessings (as it does here and in the Proverbs cited), but is not the goal to be pursued. Full enjoyment is found in and through God, not in possessions..

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1 Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., Ecclesiastes: Total Life (Chicago: Moody Press, 1979), 77.

2 H. C. Leupold, Exposition of Ecclesiastes (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1952) 134.

3 Edward H. Plumptre, “Rejoice, Ye Pure in Heart.”

Related Topics: Christian Life