It is impossible to understate the importance of delight in the spiritual life. Delight is the very lifeblood of our lives with God. It is the thing that gives life and energy and vibrancy to our souls. It is the end result of the activity of God’s Spirit within us. “God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit,” says Paul in Romans. (Rom. 5:5) Delight is when God’s Spirit so captures our hearts with his great love and affection that it changes everything about us. Thus, we come to delight in him as we recognize his deep delight in us, which fills us to overflowing so that his Divine Love spills out of us into the world around us.
The word delight (‘anag) is used in a couple of different ways in the Old Testament. The literal translation is to be soft or delicate. Thus, when we delight in God, we become soft to him. We are pliable in his hands, open and vulnerable to his touch and his voice and his Spirit. The other way the word delight is used in the scriptures is to be filled with deep gladness. When we delight ourselves in the Lord, we find our deepest joy and gladness in who he is, and in his great affection for us. This, in turn, breeds so many other great things in the life of faith: trust and rest and surrender to his will and his direction. When we delight in our God, we recognize, and are convinced of, the depths of his heart for us, allowing us to truly trust in him.
In contrast (in Psalm 37), is the word fret. The word fret is used a couple of different ways in the Old Testament as well. To fret (charah) literally means to blaze up or grow hot. Under this usage of the word, when we fret we get angry with God and become hardened to him, rather than soft. The other way the word fret is used is to be filled with worry or doubt. When we fret, we become consumed. We allow worry or doubt to so fill us up that there is no room for God to do anything of value within us.
So how do we live in such a way, as to cultivate and nurture delight, while minimizing and weeding out fret? Maybe a starting point would be to begin to immerse our hearts in the words of this ancient prayer. To reflect on it and chew on it and meditate on it and pray it until it begins to take root within us. Maybe by praying these words over and over, we might actually begin to do them; or, better yet, to become them. Maybe by praying these very words we will become more convinced of his love and, thus, more able to delight in him. It seems like a good place to start anyway.