The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. Numbers 6:24-26 (ESV)
Israel believed that when they were experiencing some type of affliction that God had turned his face against them. The scriptures do point out that God’s face is against those who do evil (Psalm 34:16) and God himself told Judah that his face was against them for harm because of their wickedness (Jeremiah 44:11). Listen to the pleas of the psalmists: Make your face shine on your servant; save me in your steadfast love! (Psalm 31:16 ESV) Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved! (Psalm 80:3 ESV)
Israel also believed that during times of victory and prosperity that God’s face was shinning toward them. Consider Psalm 44:3; For not by their own sword did they win the land, nor did their own arm save them, but your right hand and your arm, and the light of your face, for you delighted in them. (ESV) When seeking a blessing the psalmist implored God to shine his face on him (Psalm 67:1). The words to Numbers 6:24-26 is in fact a blessing that God commanded Aaron and his son to speak over the children of Israel (Numbers 6:22-23).
Could there be a greater blessing than for God to shine his face upon us? God has a special regard for us. He is looking in our direction. His eyes are fixed on us. Psalm 33:18 says the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him. God said in Psalm 32:8 that he will counsel us with his eye on us. And in Psalm 17:8 the psalmist prayed that God would keep him as the apple of his eye.
Yet, aren’t there times in our lives when it seems that God has turned his face away from us? King David felt that way. By your favor, O LORD, you made my mountain stand strong; you hid your face; I was dismayed. (Psalm 30:7 ESV) When trouble comes we begin to ask questions like, O LORD, why do you cast my soul away? Why do you hide your face from me? (Psalm 88:14 ESV) And pray prayers like, Hide not your face from your servant; for I am in distress; make haste to answer me. (Psalm 69:17 ESV)
We know that God never leaves nor forsakes us (Hebrews 13:5) and deep in his heart David knew that too. He wrote, For he has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted, and he has not hidden his face from him, but has heard, when he cried to him. (Psalm 22:24 ESV) We should never forget that in those times of distress, be it financial issues, health issues, death of a loved one, repentance over sin or persecution for Christ’s sake, God has not turned his face away from us.
Behind every dark cloud of uncertainty is a hidden smile on the face of God. And if we will just listen we might hear his voice say, “Seek my face.” David did, You have said, “Seek my face.” My heart says to you, “Your face, LORD, do I seek.” (Psalm 27:8 ESV) If we seek his face we will find it. And when we find it, it will be shinning upon us.
Do you sense God’s face shinning toward you?
Scriptures for meditation: