“But let the man who boasts, boast of this, that he understands and knows me. For I am Yahweh who acts in steadfast loyalty, justice, and righteousness upon the earth; for in these things I delight – Yahweh’s word.” Jeremiah 9:24 J. A. Thompson translation.
Delight – How would you answer this question: What are the minimal requirements of worship? Jeremiah gives us an answer that probably does not match the list we would provide. Furthermore, our idea of worship today actually seems to exclude some of the elements that God says (through Jeremiah) delight Him.
The Hebrew hafets covers “take delight in,” “be pleased with,” and “desire.” It’s important to recognize that this word in God’s revelation to Jeremiah does not simply mean “to gladden God’s heart.” Hafets includes the idea that this not only pleases God but is also what God desires. As we would expect, there is an assumed obligation here. In other words, while a larger range of behaviors might give God pleasure, these particular actions are what God truly desires of His people. J. A. Thompson notes:
“True religion consists in acknowledging the complete sovereignty of God in life and allowing him to fill life with those qualities of steadfast faithfulness, justice, and righteousness which he possesses, in which he delights, and which he desires to find in his people.”
What is worship? It is whatever gladdens the heart of God. And what gladdens the heart of God? To act with steadfast loyalty (hesed), to do what is just (mishpat), and to bring righteousness (tsedaqah) to the earth. Let’s amplify a bit. To act with steadfast loyalty is to follow the instructions God gives for living as His people. In a word – Torah. Keeping Torah delights God.
To do what is just is to fulfill what the ruler requires, to make daily practices align with the wishes of the tribal chief, to exercise authority on behalf of the ruler of the people and the judge according to his guidance. Modern paradigms suggest that justice is a matter of upholding the law, but this is not the case in the ancient Near East. In Jeremiah’s culture, justice is determined by the actions of the ruler and to do what is just is to reflect those actions. We might ask ourselves if our behaviors reflect the heart of God. It would be quite simple to decide. Look at Luke 4:18-19. Yeshua tells us what it means to be aligned with God’s heart. He tells us in actions anyone of us could do. So, are you doing them?
Finally, righteousness is the action of preserving what matters most to God. Here is the basis of biblical ethics and morality. This is also the motivation behind grace, forgiveness and blessing. A righteousness life delights God because it looks just like Him, no matter what the circumstances.
This summary from the Lord through the prophet Jeremiah calls us to examine our idea of religion and worship. If these things are missing, what are we doing? All the praise music, all the discipleship classes, all the tithes and offerings mean nothing without the critical elements that produce heavenly delight. As the New Testament authors write, “worship” without the delight of the Lord is form without function, religion without the power of the Spirit.
Topical Index: delight, hafets, hesed, mishpat, tsedaqah, Jeremiah 9:24, religion, worship
 J. A. Thompson, The Book of Jeremiah: NICOT, p. 321.