The Face of God: A Portrait of His Presence in the Life of David the Prophet
By Alexia Ioannides
“When You said, “Seek My face,” My heart said to You, “Your face, LORD, I will seek.” (Psalm 27:8)
The Book of Psalms is quite possibly the most widely examined and cherished book contained in Holy Scripture, mainly because it accurately portrays the extensive range of human emotion, desire, and experience. The author responsible for composing the majority of its literature is none other than the infamous shepherd boy-anointed king, David the Prophet.
As the reader explores the various psalms, it becomes increasingly evident that David possesses a unique attribute, one that enables him to experience a remarkably intimate relationship with God; that is, favor. Interestingly enough, his name means “Beloved,” which may help us discern what type of person he was, given that in ancient Israel, names were believed to carry great significance in foretelling a person’s character, personality, or calling. Perhaps, this young man was considered the beloved of God… but for what reason? The Apostle Paul addresses this question in Acts 13:22, as God testifies concerning David, “I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart…”
In an age when mainstream Israel had turned their back on God by pledging their devotion to idols, David remained wholeheartedly faithful. His primary goal was not to pursue the hand of God (how God could satisfy his wants and needs), but instead, to know the heart of God through a personal, life-changing experience. Indeed, he was a king who had all the glory, wealth, and pleasure made available to him by a simple request; yet his heart’s desire was for “one thing”: to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord (Psalm 27:4). After he did so, he was never again the same man.
Some may assume that David’s transformation and earthly success was a result of his perfect conduct. On the contrary, Holy Scripture clearly confirms that he was guilty on accounts of adultery, and even worse, murder. During these trying periods, he faced what many Christians struggle with today because of unrepentant sin—separation from God’s presence… “How long, O Lord, Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?” (Psalm 13:1). He continues to plead… “Do not hide your face from me; Do not turn your servant away in anger; You have been my help; Do not leave me or forsake me, O God of my salvation.” (Psalm 27:9). David recognized that his peace and security was due to the umbrella of the Lord’s presence, but when sin separated him, his spirit became anguished… “Lord, by your favor you have made my mountain stand strong; You hid your face, and I was troubled.” (Psalm 30:7).
Nevertheless, because of God’s unfailing love, David was not consumed by his afflictions. He was not forsaken to wallow in his miserable state because he honestly admitted his weaknesses and utter dependency upon the Lord. He had the ability to move God’s heart with deep compassion because he completely poured out his own heart—his deepest thoughts and emotions—in a spirit of repentance and childlike faith. Therefore, his humble disposition was honored and his spirit was restored, but now he had even a greater awareness of God’s justice and infinite mercy. As the Apostle Paul boldly reiterates in Romans 6, “Where sin abounds, grace does much more abound.” David’s sin provided God with the opportunity to demonstrate His graciousness for those who truly want to change their unhealthy lifestyles. Of course, His grace does not grant anyone license to sin, but it does afford hope to those who want their spiritual darkness transformed into the light of His presence shining upon them… “They looked to him and were radiant; And their faces were not ashamed.” (Psalm 34:5).
How many long to have their spiritual darkness transformed into a glorious light, a light that reflects the very face of God? How many are searching for peace that surpasses all understanding, joy that is unspeakable, and love that is unfailing and everlasting? Are these not desires that are embedded within the blueprints of every human soul? Were they not purposefully placed by the Creator Himself, in order that He could truly satisfy those yearnings? Regrettably, the mass of humanity has gone astray, as the ancient Israelites who worshipped lifeless objects to fulfill their God-given desires. They have become delusional, believing that idols such as money, fame, success, and unfruitful relationships can replace the relationship between the Creator and His creation. Only this relationship can eliminate the excruciating pain of these radical pleasure-seekers who are drunk with the wine of this world; who are living lives void of God’s love.
It is only an encounter with the face of God that will radically revolutionize the destiny of our race. If they behold His beautiful face, gaze into His fiery eyes of love, and hear His words of comfort and truth, they will be transformed as David was. David is a prototype of what a true worshipper should be. If our “one thing” is to seek the face of God and experience the fullness of His presence, then the petty circumstances and concerns of this life will diminish and look pale in comparison, to the blissful privilege of being called the beloved of God. However, no one can see God without purity. It is only after humanity comes into agreement with Him about their sin and allows Him to purify their hearts, will they be afforded the freedom to behold a vision of His face, which can quench the thirsty human soul as nothing else can; David discovered this… “As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness.” (Psalm 17:15).
“This is Jacob, the generation of those who seek Him, who seek Your face.” (Psalm 24:6).