Then I was beside Him, as a master workman; and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him. Proverbs 8:30
The notes below may look suspiciously like a sermon outline. They essentially are. I have preached this message and I have read other sermons on the same passage. The notes below are distilled from John Flavel’s sermon on this passage. He did a better job than anyone else I’ve come across, certainly better than I ever did, (until now!).
The Holy Spirit describes the state of Christ before his incarnation with two delights,
(1.) The Father and Son delighted one in another without communicating that their joy to any other, for no creature did then exist.
(2.) They delighted in the work of salvation, though not yet extant, verse 31.
My present subject is the mutual delights of the Father and Son; which are in the text.
1. The glorious condition of the pre-incarnate Son of God, described by the person with whom his fellowship was, "Then was I by him," or with him; so with him as never was any, an expression of the greatest dearness and intimacy in the world; as if he should say, wrapped up in the very soul of his Father.
2. This fellowship is illustrated by a metaphor. The Hebrew sometimes rendered a cunning workman. "For all things were made by him." Others render it nourish; and so Christ is here compared to a charming child, sporting before its Father. The Hebrew root which our translation renders "rejoicing before him," signifies to laugh or play; so that, as parents delight to see their children sporting before them, so did the Father delight in beholding the darling of his bosom.
3. This delight is amplified by its perpetuity: "I was day by day his delight.” The delights of the Father and Son in one other was not interrupted for a moment.
Doctrine: The condition of Jesus Christ before his incarnation, was a state of the highest and most unspeakable delight and pleasure, in the enjoyment of his Father.
Now to sketch out this unspeakable blessedness, I consider it three ways: negatively, positively, and comparatively.
1. Negatively, by removing from it all abasement and sorrow which incarnation brought him under: as,
First, He was not then abased to the condition of a creature.
Secondly, Christ was not under the law.
Thirdly, He was not liable to any of the sorrowful effects of being human. As,
(1.) He was unacquainted with grief;
(2.) He was never pinched with poverty and wants while he continued in that bosom.
(3.) He never underwent reproach and shame in that bosom.
(4.) He was never offended with an impure suggestion or temptation of the Devil.
(5.) He was never sensible of pains and tortures in soul or body.
(6.) There were no hidings of his Father from him.
(7.) There were never any impressions of his Fathers wrath upon him.
(8.) Lastly, There was no death, to which he was subject, in that bosom.
2. Let us consider it positively, what it was, and guess by some particular considerations at the glory of it; as,
(1.) We cannot but conceive it to be a state of matchless happiness, if we consider the persons enjoying and delighting in each other: he was with God, John 1: 1. God is the fountain and center of all joys: Psalm 16:11, "In thy presence is fullness of joy." To be wrapped up in the soul and bosom of all delights, as Christ was had to be a state beyond comprehension.
(2.) Or if we consider the intimacy and oneness of those great persons with one another: the nearer the union, the sweeter the communion. Jesus Christ was not only near and dear to God, but one with him. “I and my Father are one," John 10: 30, one in nature, will, love and delight.
(3.) Consider again the purity of that delight with which the blessed Father and Son embraced each other; the best creature delights one in another, are mixed, debased, and allayed; if there be something ravishing and engaging, there is also something cloying and distasting. The purer any delight, the more excellent.
(4.) Consider the constancy of this delight; it was from everlasting; it never suffered one moment's interruption. The overflowing fountain of God's delight and love never stopped its course, never ebbed; but as he speaks in the text, "I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him."
3. Consider it comparatively, and this state still yet appear more glorious, comparing it with either the choicest delights that one creature takes in another, or that God takes in the creature, or that the creatures take in God: measure these immense delights, between the Father and his Son, by either of these lines, and you shall find them infinitely short: For,
(1.) Though the delights that creatures take in each other, be sometimes a great delight; such as Jacob's delight in Benjamin, or Jonathan in David, yet all this is but creature-delight, and can in no particular equal the delights between the Father and the Son.
(2.) Or if you compare it with the delight that God takes in the creatures, it is confessed that God takes great delight in some creatures. "The Lord takes pleasure in his saints, he rejoices over them with singing! And resteth in his love," Zeph. 3: 17. But yet there is a great difference between his delight in creatures, and his delights in Christ; for all his delight in the saints is secondary, and for Christ's sake; but his delights in Christ are primary, and for his own sake: we are accepted in the beloved, Eph, 1: 6, he is beloved, and accepted for himself.
(3.) Compare it with the delights that the best of creatures take in God, and Christ, and it must be confessed that is a choice delight, and a transcendent love, with which they love and delight in him. Our love to God (at the best) is still imperfect; that is the burden and constant complaint of saints, but this is perfect; ours is inconstant, up and down, ebbing and flowing, but this is constant.
Inference 1. What an astonishing act of love was this, for the Father to give the darling of his soul for poor sinners! "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son." Which of us would deliver a child, the child of our delights, an only child, to death for the greatest inheritance in the world? What parent can endure parting with such a child? When Hagar was taking her last leave (as she thought) of Ishmael, Gen. 21:16, the text says, "she went and sat over against him, a good way off: for she said, ‘Let me not see the death of the child.’ And she sat over-against him, and lifted up her voice, and wept:" though she was not the best mother, yet she could not give up the child. What a hole has the death of some children made in the hearts of some parents! Yet surely, never did any child lie so close to a parent's heart, as Christ did to his Father's; and yet he willingly parts with him, though his only one, to death, a cursed death, for sinners, for the worst of sinners. If the Father had not loved you, he had never parted with such a Son for you.
Inference 2. Be forever astonished at the love of Jesus Christ to poor sinners; that ever he should consent to leave such a bosom, and the ineffable delights that were there, for such poor worms as we are. Jesus Christ who was embraced in that bosom after another manner than ever you were acquainted with, freely left it, and laid down the glory and riches he enjoyed there, for your sakes; and as the Father loved him; even so (believers) has he loved you, John 17: 22. What manner of love is this! Who ever loved as Christ loves? Who ever denied himself for Christ, as Christ denied himself for us?
Inference 3. Hence we are informed that interest in Jesus Christ is the true way to all spiritual preferment in heaven. Do you covet to be in the heart, in the favor and delight of God? Get interest in Jesus Christ, and you shall presently be there. What Israel said of the children of his beloved Joseph, “Thy children are my children,’ the same God says of all the dear children of Christ. You see among men how persons rise in this world as they are befriended; preferment goes by favor: So it is in heaven, persons are preferred according to their interest in the beloved, Eph. 1: 9. Christ is the great favorite in heaven: his image upon your souls and his name in your prayers, makes both accepted with God.
Inference 4. You see how infinitely the Father delights in him, how he ravishes the heart of God; and shall he not ravish our hearts? Why do you lavish away your precious affections upon vanity: None but Christ is worthy of them: when you spend your precious affections upon other objects, what is it but to dig for dross with a golden shovel? He that left God's bosom for you deserves yours.
Inference 5. If Christ be the beloved darling of the Father's soul, think what a grievous and insufferable thing it is to the heart of God, to see his dear Son despised and rejected by sinners. What a dismal word is that; 1 Cor. 16:22. "If any man love not our Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha," (i.e.) let the great curse of God lie upon that man till the Lord come.
1. To saints: If Christ was content to forsake and leave this bosom of love for your sakes; then,
(1.) Be you ready to forsake and leave all the comforts on earth for Christ: Moses left all the glory of Egypt. Peter and the other Apostles left all. But what have we to leave for Christ in comparison of what he left for us? Christ is the highest pattern of self-denial in the world.
(2.) Let this confirm your faith in prayer: If he intercede with the Father for you, then never doubt of audience and acceptance with him; surely you shall be accepted. Christ was never denied any thing that he asked. The Father hears him always; though you are not worthy, Christ is, and he lives to make intercession for you, Heb. 7: 25.
(3.) Let this encourage thy heart, O saint, in a dying hour, and not only make you patient in death, but in a holy manner impatient till you be gone; for your soul is going to that bosom of love from whence Christ came? John 17: 24. "Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am."
2. To sinners: Whatever you are, or have been; whatever guilt you lie under; embrace Christ, who is freely offered to you, and you shall be as dear to God as the holiest and most eminent believer in the world: but if you still continue to despise and neglect such a Savior, sorer wrath is treasured up for you than other sinners. O that these discoveries of Christ may never come to such a fatal issue with any of your souls, in whose eyes his glory has been this day opened!