” When You said, ‘Seek My face,’ my heart said to You, ‘Your face, Lord, I will seek.’ ”
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Why, in Psalm 27:8, does the Lord ask David to seek His face and not His heart? Or His hand, perhaps to move on his behalf? The word “seek” here, in Hebrew, is “baqash” and means to search out (by any method, specifically in worship and in prayer); to strive after: – to ask, beg, beseech, require. The Hebrew for “face” actually appears in the plural, “paniym” and connotes relationship. David did not hesitate to reply to this imperative from the Lord with a positive response. Furthermore, it seems that it was primarily David that received this command from the Lord and also that issued it to Israel as king. In I Chronicles 16:11 he exhorts the people to “Seek the Lord and His strength; Seek His face evermore!” This is repeated in Psalm 105:4. Then in II Chronicles 7:14 it is the Lord Who promises His people (with an exhortation) that if they “will humble themselves and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from Heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” Finally, in Hosea 5:15b we see those three words again: “Then they will seek My face; In their affliction they will earnestly seek Me.”
“The Lord spoke to Moses face to face.” (Exodus 33:11)
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Moses didn’t run away from the face of the Lord. In fact, when all the people stood afar off for fear of facing God, “Moses drew near the thick darkness where God was.” (Ex.20:21b) The Word of God does say that the Lord spoke face to face with the Israelites in the wilderness, but it was through Moses (Deut.5:4). What did Moses know, or believe, about God that the Israelites didn’t? Did they not remember and take to heart the Heart of the One Who authored the priestly blessing of His people and commanded Aaron and his sons to issue it – a clear expression of His lovingkindness of and care for the Israelites? “The Lord bless you and keep you, the Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.” (Numbers 6:24-26) Even Cain, as guilty as he was, was more afraid of God hiding His face from him than he was of facing Him and the penalty for the murder of his brother (Genesis 4:14). Another example of someone who did not flee from the face of God, although his very name denoted “trickster, supplanter, liar, cheat”, was Jacob, in Genesis 32:24-30.
“I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.”
Jacob was left alone (in what would eventually be called Peniel) and there wrestled with him a Man until daybreak. Jacob would not let Him go “unless You bless me!” Jacob prevailed, his name was changed to Israel, “for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.” We could say that the patriarch was successful in “face-to-face combat” with God! Incidentally, even the enemies of Israel knew the God of Israel to be One Who could be seen face to face.
These are examples of people who sought, respected, and revered the face of God, because they associated it with favor, with His blessing.
Knowing that the Father and the Son have a face makes God personal and approachable.
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Richard Sibbes, a Puritan theologian of the late 16th and early 17th centuries, offered the following commentary on Psalm 27:8 – “God is willing to be made known. He is willing to open and discover Himself; God delights not to hide Himself. God stands not upon state, as some emperors do, that think their presence diminishes respect. God … may be searched into. … The more we know of Him, the more we shall admire Him. None admire Him more than the blessed angels, that see most of Him, and the blessed spirits that have communion with Him. Therefore, He hides not Himself … He desires to be known; and all those that have His Spirit desire to make Him known. Those that suppress the knowledge of God … suppress the opening of God, clean contrary to God’s meaning: “Seek My face”; I desire to be made known and lay open Myself to you. … ” (from Treasury of David, Vol.I, C.H.Spurgeon).
We are designed for face to face relationships.
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Solomon wrote in Proverbs 27:19, “As in water answers to and reflects face, so the heart of man to man.” Many years later the Apostle John would pen words that expressed a longing to see the faces of those he so loved: “I hope to see you soon, and we can talk face to face.” (III John 14) But perhaps the most beautifully expressed desire of one to see the face of a loved one is when the Shepherd in Song of Solomon 2:14 exclaims to His beloved Shulammite, “O My dove, … let Me see your face, let Me hear your voice, for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely.” We, too, can look into His face, by faith, and our faces, too, will be lovely to Him; we will be radiant and not ashamed (Psalm 34:5), and perhaps by our shining countenances it will be known to others that we have been with Him! (Exodus 34:29,35)
HOW do we seek His face?
We seek His face by listening in silence before Him (Isaiah 41:1). We pray (II Chronicles 7:14). We “seek in the Book and read” (Isaiah 34:16), for He IS the Word of God (Rev.19:13). We, with unveiled faces, continue to behold in the Word of God as in a mirror the Glory of the Lord (II Cor.3:18). Finally, we seek His face by determining to know no one after the flesh, from a strictly human point of view (II Cor.5:16), and by resolving to know nothing among each other except Jesus Christ and Him crucified (I Cor.2:2). In other words, we are seeking to see HIS face in each person we come into contact with, including the unregenerate, because every person born was created in the image of God (Gen.1:26,27). Therefore, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we can “see Jesus only”, His face, in every single human being – no matter what physical, mental, or emotional deviations from “the norm” they might seem to have. Therefore, with eyes of faith we can sing to each other and to those not yet born again, “We can see in you the Glory of our King!”
“As for me, I will continue beholding Your face in righteousness …; I shall be fully satisfied, when I awake [to find myself] beholding Your form [and having sweet communion with You].” (Psalm 17:15, Amplified)