You have said, “Seek my face.” My heart says to you, “Your face, Lord, do I seek” (ESV).
In this verse we see God’s command and David’s obedience. God provides David with a warrant to seek God and David responds by accepting the offer. The first three words are not in the original text, but are added by the translators to make clear that God was inviting David to seek his face. The lack of the words should not surprise us. Close personal relationships are emotional, even when they flow deep beneath the surface, and so they can be abrupt. The sudden call from God to seek his face is thus very natural.
Let’s focus on God’s call to us.
In these words God is revealing to us that he wants to disclose himself to humans. In God’s word, we see written the certainty of his desire. David as God’s prophet tells us of this. God is reaching out from the glorious splendor of his majesty to draw near to his weak creatures. Here is a source of happiness, that God would have a close (face-to-face) relationship with people that he created. From this we ought to gain a better understanding of what true religion is. It is much more than the performance of ritual—any ritual and especially empty ritual. True Christianity is intensely personal. God calls to people he made to dare and approach the Holy One as one would approach a friend or lover. Yes, we must approach him as he directs in his word, but that is not the present point. Instead, it is God graciously calling, and a human simply trusting that call to dare to communicate with God.
Why would God want to call us to him? Mere creatures, particularly sinful creatures, can never add anything to all-sufficient Glory. No, it is because in his holiness (set-apartness) he is loving and good, and he wants to share his glory and goodness and love with us. So we hear these words, “Seek my face.” Notice also that God takes the initiative in relating to us. By nature we do not seek God (Romans 3:11). In fact, we wander from him and suppress his revelation. We fail to invest time to draw near to him. We get caught up in lesser things to our own loss. But God still graciously calls us to draw near to him (cf. James 4:8).
What we must understand is that God wants us to know him and to approach him personally. Some people who are great in the eyes of the world hold themselves back from common people. But God, the greatest of all, want us to be with him—forever. This is one of the goals of the plan of God (Revelation 21:3). Everything that God wants us to do by means of evangelism and worship and discipleship and service and prayer and fellowship tends toward this greater purpose; namely, to have a people close to his face. In the same way, every sin opposes that goal and seeks to ruin it.
Therefore, we must realize that if at any time we are not enjoying the sweetness of being near to God, the problem lies with us, and not with the God who loves us and calls us to participate in a close personal relationship with him. This can be hard for us to accept, since we tend to act like Adam in the Garden, when he blamed God for giving Eve to him. In our sin we want to blame God and to excuse ourselves. But our minds must be controlled by the Scriptures.
God has chosen to communicate his desire for a personal relationship with people. This is not some hidden fact, disclosed only to some discerning theologians. It is plainly stated in this text and many texts. Think of all the calls that come from God or Christ in the Bible. Consider God’s desire to fellowship with his people through Christ (1 Corinthians 1:9). Before the creation Father, Son and Holy Spirit were fully satisfied in their united glory as God. But because God is good, he willed to make his goodness known (Romans 9:23-24), not because he had to but because he wanted to. As light naturally enlightens a room, so the goodness of God naturally reaches out to those who need his goodness. What of those who do not want God’s goodness? Their wickedness does not discredit God’s goodness (Romans 3:1-8), and they fulfill another purpose (Romans 9:22).
Since we are God’s people and have experienced his goodness in a close way, we should sense our responsibility to let others know of his goodness (Psalm 34:8). God has called us to a place and time to be a co-communicator of his desire for personal fellowship. As we experience God’s goodness, we become better communicators of God’s desire to share his goodness with people that he has made. We thus have a happy message. In addition we show forth God’s desire when we freely want to tell others of God’s goodness and when we seek to spread this knowledge far. When a fire is great it burns far; when love is great it extends and communicates itself far and wide.
Grace and peace, David