The psalm begins by calling us to praise the Lord: “Praise the Lord. Praise the name of the Lord.” Then, starting in verse 3 the psalmist gives us reasons for why we should feel praise rising in our hearts toward God. It says, for example, “Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good.” The list of reasons for praise goes on until it comes to verse 6, and this is the verse I want us to focus on this morning:
Whatever the Lord pleases he does,
in heaven and on earth,
in the seas and all deeps.
Psalm 115:3 says the same thing:
Our God is in the heavens;
he does whatever he pleases.
This verse teaches that whenever God acts, he acts in a way that pleases him. God is never constrained to do a thing that he despises. He is never backed into a corner where his only recourse is to do something he hates to do. He does whatever he pleases. And therefore, in some sense, he has pleasure in all that he does.
Isaiah uses the same Hebrew word (as a noun) in Isaiah 46:10 where the Lord says,
My counsel shall stand,
and I will accomplish all my pleasure.
On the basis of these texts and many others we should bow before God and praise his sovereign freedom—that in some sense at least he always acts in freedom, according to his own “good pleasure,” following the dictates of his own delights. He never becomes the victim of circumstance. He is never forced into a situation where he must do something in which he cannot rejoice.
Does God Really Take Pleasure in All He Does?
This is a glorious picture of God in his sovereign freedom—to do whatever he pleases and to accomplish all his pleasure. But it would be a fuzzy picture, a bit out of focus, if we stopped here. To bring it into focus and sharpen it up we have to ask this question: “How can God say in Ezekiel 18:23 and 32 that he does not have pleasure in the death of any impenitent person, if in fact he accomplishes all his pleasure and does whatever he pleases?”
If you would like to hear more on this topic, Pastor John Piper and Desiring God are holding a free seminar on August 24-25, 2012 in the Twin Cities. Click here for more information or to register for the event.