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God’s shining face

Turn us again to yourself, O God. Make your face shine down upon us. Only then will we be saved. — Psalm 80:3

Humans have ingeniously devised a multitude of impersonal ways to communicate with each other. Telephone, telegraph, fax, email, social media, and the old-fashioned post all serve to pass on information. But, without exception, they lack personal touch—the intimacy of presence. They tell us only what the sender wants to tell us, leaving us to guess at what he or she feels. To really know the whole story we need more. We must meet face-to-face!

The face is controlled by a mass of muscles. It can be contorted in a thousand different ways, reproducing a plethora of images. Frowns and grimaces, impassivity and rapt attention, snarls or smiles. Smiles! That is what we long to see.

God commanded Aaron and the rest of the priests to pronounce a specific blessing on the children of Israel (Numbers 6:22-27). This blessing included the words “May the Lord smile on you.” Older versions of the Bible say, “The Lord make his face shine upon thee” (KJV). Shine or smile, the picture is wonderful. It conveys the beaming, approving look of the Lord, showing His deep satisfaction with His people.

But the writer of this psalm lamented that he could see no smile on the face of the Lord (Psalm 80:3). The people were not basking under His approving gaze; they were estranged from Him. And they were not smiling themselves—they were drinking “tears by the bucketful” (80:5). So what could be done? They needed to ask the Lord, “Turn us again to yourself, O God. Make your face shine down upon us. Only then will we be saved” (80:3).

It is physically impossible to gaze on a smile if you turn your back on the one who is smiling. You need to turn his direction to see him face-to-face. Likewise, you cannot experience God’s approval if you are heading in your own willful direction.

The smallest child soon learns that smiles from a parent are much to be preferred over frowns, so he adjusts his behavior accordingly. Grown persons need to remember that they are God’s children, if they have been born again through faith in Christ. So before they act they should think, “Will this action bring my Father delight or anguish? Will it elicit a smile or merit a frown?”

Most of us know in our hearts what pleases the Lord. Should we have any doubts, we can always refer to Scripture. How wonderful it will be for us to experience God’s shining, smiling face!

For further study: Psalm 80

Content taken from The One Year Book of Devotions for Men by Stuart Briscoe. Copyright ©2000. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.