“The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; yes, I have a goodly heritage” (Psalm 16:6)
As I write this devotional on September 1, 2003, Doris and I have today been married for 30 years. These have been years of joy, for “The joy of the Lord is my strength” (Nehemiah 8:10).
The word fun is not in the Bible! However, the word joy, in all its various forms, is found over 200 times in God’s Word. True joy is reserved for believers only. Paul said to Agrippa, “I think myself happy.” Happiness is a mental attitude. God has promised us joy, not fun. There is no place in the Word that God promises that the sinner can have joy. Observe the last verse of this chapter where the word pleasure is found. In Hebrew, it has the same root word as joy.
The word lines here means the parameters. You should be joyful within your parameters, within the bonds of matrimony, for example. Boundaries are not limitations but safety lines. The Word of God is your safety zone. Yes, the Bible tells us that there is “pleasure in sin for a season” But it is for a “limited time only.” One can have pleasurable sin most of his or her life or one can have joy for eternity. David is writing this and he says life is good in God. David is happy in life because of God, not because of his own resourcefulness or heritage. The lines/parameters that David refers to here is one’s allotted portion of the Promised Land. “Parameters” in Hebrew is “chab hal im,” a tract of land measured off by a surveyor. Happiness in marriage is like being awarded “pleasant places.” Pleasant places refer to fertile, well-watered, lush and productive tracts of land. Life has been pleasant since I met the Lord in 1971. God blessed me with Doris the following year.
David is referring to joy in his circumstances in life. Fellowship with God and my spouse is my choice possession, for it ensures contentment and satisfaction. God has measured me out a good situation in life. He is offering you “a little heaven to go to heaven in,” but it’s your responsibility to safeguard it. After 30 years, Doris and I can still testify that God is a good God. His ways are pleasant. The word fallen in verse 16 does not mean that God’s blessings have fallen to anyone by blind luck, by accident or fate. The lines are your parameters, but be assured these restrictions are pleasant. They are there for your protection.
But we must accept the boundaries and restrictions God puts on us in order to have a pleasant life. Automotive child restraints are there for the child’s protection. Hundreds die every year because parents didn’t love them enough to restrain them. You don’t have to be smart to obey. But we have to be spiritually stupid to disobey His laws. You don’t get to pick your parameters if your heart is strong for the Lord. You trust Him to set them, confident they will be good for you. The manna only fell where Israel was camped; only as they followed His leading were they rewarded.
Jesus said His way is narrow; but that doesn’t make Christians “narrow minded.” It means that His road is safe, as long as I stay on it. Jesus said the broad way leads only to destruction. If I claim Him as my God, I have to accept the parameters He sets for me. They are not optional. Jesus said His yoke is easy, but we must learn to minimize the negative and maximize the positive.
God has not given you your wonderful spouse to hinder you, but to help you. Life can be pleasant as you serve God together. It is important to know that God knows that humans have a deep-seated need to be needed. People get married to fulfill this need. If one’s spouse is not meeting that deep need, they may seek or entertain fantasies of someone other than their mate fulfilling that need. It is unfulfilled needs that often lead to extra-marital affairs. This is why He has set these pleasant boundaries within the marriage bond.
What parameter has God set for married couples? Let’s look at a few of the many ways God pleasantly blesses a married couple:
1. Spiritual pleasantness
2 .Material pleasantness
3. Physical pleasantness
4. Emotional pleasantness
The lines are not mine, for He established them. These spiritual blessings are received directly from Jesus. A closeness to Him results in a closeness to your mate. God has designed marriage this way. Couples who pray together, read God’s Word every day and go to church together minimize their chances of divorce. Although your God-established parameters are not visible, there are visible blessings attached to obedience.
Our scripture bears repeating, “The parameters, the lines, are fallen to me in pleasant places.” You don’t have to search to find God’s parameters for your life. He wrote them all down for you. The primary marital challenge is to follow them. If you obey God within His pre-set Biblical parameters, you can have a dynamic and wonderful marriage. Sometimes a person feels that God is too restrictive, that He has shrunk their moral boundaries unfairly, that they should be able to flirt a little bit on the job. They forget boundaries are there for protection, not unfair restriction. The punishment comes when one steps outside the boundaries. Trusting God demands that I operate inside the lines. Many people claim to be disciples but forget that the basic root word of disciple is discipline. How do you react when someone says, “Here’s a line you cannot cross?” No restriction in God’s Word was put there to hurt you. The world will tell you to draw your own lines, but the Bible says, “Remove not the ancient landmark which thy forefathers have established” (Proverbs 22:28). God’s moral boundaries become your marital “safety-zone.” You bless your mate by following God’s laws.