Psalm 27 is a familiar psalm. It begins with the proclamation, “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 27 is a singing psalm where God’s people express confidence in Him as they respond to challenging situations. The psalm describes a faithful person who is being attacked by those who would destroy them. And it reminds us that when we can trust God in those situations, we can trust Him in any situation.
The psalmist also reminds us in verse 4 that he has asked one thing of the Lord. “One thing I have asked of the Lord, that I will seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek His face.” Later in verse 8 we read, “You have said, seek my face. My heart says to you, your face I do seek.” The question is, why is it such a big deal to seek God’s face? The Hebrew word here is panim and it can mean face or presence. We seek God’s presence. God’s people have been seeking His face since the beginning. When Adam opened his eyes, God’s face was most likely the first thing he saw. And we know that up until the first sin, Adam and Eve spent time in God’s presence. Genesis tells us that God came down in the cool of the evening to walk and talk with Adam and Eve. Can you even imagine what that would be like?
When we seek God, His face or presence, it speaks of a close personal relationship. We were created to live in a close relationship with Him. But sin broke this relationship with God, and it was only after Jesus gave Himself up as a sacrifice in our place that we can once again be close to God. Every Sunday we pronounce the Aaronic blessing at the end of worship. It comes from Numbers 6:24-26. “The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you. The Lord look upon you with favor and give you peace.” God shining His face on us or turning toward us shows His favor, acceptance, and forgiveness towards us. Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:8, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”
As the redeemed we will see God’s face in the New Jerusalem. True believers will behold His countenance and this face to face encounter will be our highest and ultimate experience. Revelation 22:3-4 reads, “And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him. They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads.” We have eternal life and in that eternal life we will live in the presence of God, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We will have the opportunity to worship Him and be in His presence and be in His glory.
Many psalms speak of the light of God’s face shining upon us. Psalm 4:6 is one example. But there are other times and places we are called to seek God’s face or presence. In Psalm 13:1 David asked God “How long will you hide your face from me?” This is a lament where David feels like God has abandoned him. We may well have asked this question ourselves. Seeking God’s face goes hand in hand with our dedication to God. And when we speak of seeking His face it is like we are going to the sanctuary. Perhaps the most familiar example of seeking God’s face for us comes from God speaking to King Solomon. “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14.
When you think about the face of God, what do you see? Do you see judgement and anger, wrath and disapproval? Or do you see love and tenderness, forgiveness and acceptance? We are all created in His image and He loves all of us…think John 3:16. God so loved the world. Our faces say a lot about us when they are not hidden by masks! When we smile, people know we are happy, thankful, pleased, satisfied. When we are frowning people see a different range of thoughts, feelings, and emotions. God asks us to seek His face, His presence because He wants to be found by us. When we seek something or someone it shows we are serious about finding what we are looking for. In Hebrew, the word seek means to search out by any method. If we are seeking God, chances are good that we crave His presence. This is not just a friendly game of hide and seek. Seeking the Lord is serious business. It means we are looking for deep intimacy with God. We seek God mostly by prayer. We pour out our hearts to Him and then listen while God pours out His heart for us. But we can seek Him in worship as well. As we lift up our voices in praise He may well speak into our hearts.
As the Israelites wandered in the wilderness, they had God’s presence with them all the time…a pilar of cloud by day and a pilar of fire by night. We may not see pillars of clouds or fire, but God is with us. He has told us He will be with us always, to the close of the age. And when we seek Him, we will find Him.
In His Grip
Pastor Matt W