Perhaps you remember the beautiful words of Psalm 37:4; “Delight thyself also in the Lord”. Have you ever wondered what that means? The Word of the Lord in Isaiah 58:13, 14 tells us that we find our delight in the Lord when we call His day. the Sabbath, a delight: “Call the Sabbath a delight . . . then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord.”
Have you ever called the Sabbath a delight, or even thought of it in that way? Have you ever waited as eagerly for the Sabbath, the Lord’s Day, as for other “delights,” maybe a week’s vacation, a day at the beach, or an evening with your friends? Are you so delighted with this one day out of each seven that, like David, you count it better than a thousand other days (Ps. 84:10)?
Often it happens that the Lord’s Day is merely a part of our weekly routine, or worse, that we cannot wait until the Lord’s Day is over, so that we may resume the business of the rest of the week. When the Lord’s Day is viewed as something that interferes with the routine of our life, then we are like Israel in the days of Amos, who said; “When will the new moon be gone, that we may sell corn? and the Sabbath, that we may set forth wheat” (Amos 8:5)? Such failure to enjoy the Sabbath with all its duties and privileges can only be an indication of our failure to delight ourselves in God.
In these verses Isaiah also reminds us that the greatest threat to our appreciation of the Sabbath is our own pleasure. He tells us that the Sabbath is like holy ground on which we stand
in the presence of our great God. We must not, Isaiah says, try to stand with one foot on that holy ground and the other foot in the way of our own pleasure. If we do that we will find that we take less and less pleasure in the Sabbath and in God Who gave the day. It is one or the other, our pleasure or pleasure in God. We cannot halt between the two.
“If thou turn thy foot from . . . doing thy pleasure on my holy day . . .
“And call the Sabbath a pleasure . . .
“Then shalt thou take pleasure in the Lord.”
Keeping both feet on the holy ground of the Sabbath without turning away our feet to do our own pleasures means two things, not doing our own ways and not speaking our own words.
Not doing our own ways means that we put aside for this one day all the work and cares of our daily life in the world. Those ways are not necessarily sinful, but they belong to this present life, and on the Lord’s Day we live the life of heaven. Our present life and daily activities shall never be a part of that heavenly life. God says in Isaiah 65:17; “Behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. That begins in this life on the Lord’s Day. And what greater delight can there be than that of forgetting for a few hours each week our present life of toil and tears and beginning to live as we shall live in glory.
“Call it a delight!”
“Cease from your own ways.”
We must also cease from speaking our own words. It is very striking that Isaiah mentions this especially. The Lord’s Day is not for idle chatter about the weather or the latest ballgame. It is a day, not for talk about our business, our pleasures, our life, but a day for remembering, for listening to God’s Word, and for meditating. It is a day for speaking, singing, confessing, and teaching God’s Word. On this day the seed of the Word is planted and watered that it may grow and bear fruit through the coming week. It must not be disturbed by idle chatter, or covered so deeply with other talk that it fails to take root and grow.
“Call the Sabbath a delight . . . not speaking thine own words.’’
Isaiah sums this all up when he says that we must not only call the day a delight, but “the holy of the Lord.” It must be “holy” or “separated” from all other days even in our speech.
The key to all of this is that day be “honorable,” that is, filled from beginning to end with the honor and glory of God. It is His Name which must be honored in worship, the glory of His deeds which must be remembered, and the delights of fellowship with Him that must be our pleasure. It is His sanctuary which must be reverenced, His people who must be our companions, His grace that we must seek.
All of the promises of the preceding verses of Isaiah 58 are fulfilled in the way of obedience to this great Sabbath admonition.
“Then shall thy light break forth as the morning ….
“Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry and He shall say, Here I am.
“Then . . . the Lord shall guide thee continually. . . .
“Then . . . thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.”
But above all, “Then thou shalt delight thyself in the Lord.”
Then too, God will take pleasure in us, for in the way of delighting in the Lord’s Day we show positively that we are God’s redeemed people, consecrated to Him and sanctified for His glory. Then we are a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of our God (Is. 62:3). Then we shall be called by a new name which the mouth of the Lord shall name. We shall no more be called “Forsaken” but our name shall be “Hephzibah,” that is, “My delight is in her.”
Call the Sabbath, the Lord’s Day, a delight!