I agree with Henry Scougal when he says that “the worth and excellency of a soul is to be measured by the object of its love”. However, when we apply this to God things start getting tricky. What does God take pleasure in? That is the question that John Piper tackles in The Pleasures of God.
Piper spends the first chapter laying the foundation that God’s main pleasure is in His son.
“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” Matthew 17:5 (ESV)
This is only one of the scriptures he uses to make this argument. There are many more that he works through. He then states that since Jesus is taught in scriptures to be God, then God must delight in being God. He argues that since the worth and excellency of a soul is to be measured in the object of its delight, and if God’s delight was in anything other than himself He would not be worthy of all our affection and praise. He would no longer be the one true source of pleasure and joy. That would mean there was something else that was more delightful and pleasurable than God.
The rest of the book goes through the other pleasures of God that flow out of God’s delight in Himself. The pleasure of God in all He does, in all His creation, in His fame, in Election, in bruising His Son, in doing good to all who hope in Him, in the prayers of the upright, in personal obedience and public justice and finally in concealing himself from the wise and revealing himself to the infants.
The Pleasures of God is a powerful book, and although it may intimidate some people with its deep theology and sometimes massive footnotes, it is a feast of great God-centered theology. This is an excellent follow-up to his book Desiring God. Piper calls us back to a Christianity that is focused and culminated in God and not in man. This truly is a paradigm shaping and mind-blowing work. Here is a great quote from the book:
“The greatest joy is joy in God. This is plain from Psalm 16:11: “You [God] will make known to me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand there are pleasures forever.” Fullness of joy and eternal joy cannot be improved. Nothing is fuller than full, and nothing is longer than eternal. And this joy is owing to the presence of God, not the accomplishments of man. Therefore, if God wants to love us infinitely and delight us fully and eternally, he must preserve for us the one thing that will satisfy us totally and eternally; namely, the presence and worth of his own glory. He alone is the source of full and lasting pleasure. Therefore, his commitment to uphold and display his glory is not vain, but virtuous.”