God’s Shining Face
May God be merciful and bless us. May his face smile with favor on us.
The New Living Translation of Psalm 67:1 speaks of God’s face smiling with favor on us. This accurately renders the sense of the original language, which reads literally: “May [God’s] face shine upon us.” Peoples of the Ancient Near East would speak of the shining face of a king or a god. This image may have been based on the way in which a smile “lights up” one’s face. Or it could have been related to the shining of the sun. At any rate, the shining, smiling face of God does not only convey God’s pleasure, but also his blessing. When God’s face shines upon us, he pours his goodness and grace into our lives.
The image of God’s shining face appears in the classic Aaronic blessing in Numbers 6:24-26: “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” (ESV). This passage, including the image of God’s shining face, appears on two small silver scrolls that were found in a burial cave in Jerusalem. These scrolls, inscribed about 700 years before Christ, contain the oldest existing text of Scripture. Thus, they bear witness to the power of the metaphor of God’s shining face.
I know many people who think of God as continually frowning on them. They take seriously God’s displeasure over our sin and rightly so. But they neglect the good news of God’s love for us and delight in us. In Christ, we are God’s beloved children. He takes joy in us and seeks to bless us. How different our lives would be if we lived each day with the image of God’s shining, smiling face emblazoned on our souls. How reassured we would be of his love for us and how encouraged we would be to live each moment for his glory and pleasure.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Do you ever think of God as smiling with favor on you? Why or why not? How have you experienced God’s blessings? In what ways does your life delight the heart of God?
PRAYER: Gracious God, when I think of you looking upon my life, I must confess that my first thought is of my sin. I know that my disobedience displeases you, and it’s surely right for me to take this seriously. But it is equally true that you look upon me with love, mercy, and compassion. Moreover, you delight in me as I offer myself to you as a living sacrifice.
O Lord, may I live today, and each day, in the light of your shining face. May I remember your good pleasure in me.
Emboldened by Psalm 67, I ask you to smile upon me even more, to be merciful to me and bless me. As I receive yet more of your grace, may I give it away generously to others. Let me shine in this world, reflecting your light to others. Amen.