Verse 8. In this verse we are taught that if we would have the Lord hear our voice, we must be careful to respond to his voice. The true heart should echo the will of God as the rocks among the Alps repeat in sweetest music the notes of the peasant's horn. Observe, that the command was in the plural, to all the saints, Seek ye; but the man of God turned it into the singular by a personal application, Thy face, Lord, will I seek. The voice of the Lord is very effectual where all other voices fail. When thou saidst, then my heart, my inmost nature was moved to an obedient reply. Note the promptness of the response -- no sooner said than done; as soon as God said "seek," the heart said, "I will seek." Oh, for more of this holy readiness! Would to God that we were more plastic to the divine hand, more sensitive of the touch of God's Spirit.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 8. When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek. In the former verse, David begins a prayer to God, "Hear, O Lord; have mercy upon me, and answer me." This verse is a ground of that prayer, Seek ye my face, saith God. The heart answers again, Thy face, Lord, will I seek; therefore I am encouraged to pray to thee. In the words are contained God's command and David's obedience. God's warrant and David's work answerable, the voice and the echo: the voice, "Seek my face;" the rebound back again of a gracious heart, "Thy face, Lord, will I seek." "When thou saidst." It is not in the original. It only makes way to the sense. Passionate speeches are usually abrupt: "Seek my face:" "Thy face, Lord, will I seek." ...
God is willing to be known. He is willing to open and discover himself; God delights not to hide himself. God stands not upon state, as some emperors do that think their presence diminishes respect. God is no such God, but he may be searched into. Man, if any weakness be discovered, we can soon search into the depth of his excellency; but with God it is clean otherwise. The more we know of him, the more we shall admire him. None admire him more than the blessed angels, that see most of him, and the blessed spirits that have communion with him. Therefore he hides not himself, nay, he desires to be known; and all those that have his Spirit desire to make him known. Those that suppress the knowledge of God in his will, what he performs for men, and what he requires of them, they are enemies to God and of God's people. They suppress the opening of God, clean contrary to God's meaning; "Seek my face;" I desire to be made known, and lay open myself to you. Therefore we may observe by the way, that when we are in any dark condition, that a Christian finds not the beams of God shining on him, let him not lay the blame upon God, as if God were a God that delighted to hide himself. Oh, no! it is not his delight. He loves not strangeness to his poor creatures. It is not a point of his policy. He is too great to affect (Choose=love) such poor things. No; the fault is altogether in us. We walk not worthy of such a presence; we want humility and preparation. If there be any darkness in the creature, that he finds God doth not so shine on him as in former times, undoubtedly the cause is in himself; for God saith, "Seek my face." He desires to reveal himself. Richard Sibbes.
Verse 8. When thou saidst, Seek ye my face, etc. All the Spirit's motions are seasonable, and therefore not to be put off; for delay is a kind of denial, and savours of such ungrateful contempt, as must needs be very displeasing to him. When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek. God does not only expect such an answer, but expects it immediately upon his call. Whenever he blows with his wind, he looks that we should spread our sails. If we refuse his offered help, we may deservedly want it when desired. As Christ withdrew himself from the spouse because she let him stand knocking so long at the door of her heart, and she still deferred to open, and tired out his loving forbearance with vain and frivolous excuses. Song of Solomon 5:2 , etc. But as we must not omit the present performance of any duty which he excites unto, we must not check his influences by being weary of the duties which he assists us in: if we do not improve extraordinary aids by holding out the longer, we provoke him to depart. Timothy Cruso.
Verse 8. When thou saidst, Seek ye my face, etc. We see here thus much, that God must begin with us, before we can close with him; God must seek us, before we can seek him; God must first desire that we draw near to him, before we for our particulars are able to draw near unto God. Thou saidst, Seek my face; and then and not till then my heart said, Thy face, Lord, will I seek. Thomas Horton.
Verse 8. When thou saidst, etc. Now God then speaks to the heart to pray when not only he puts upon the duty by saying to the conscience, This thou oughtest to do; but God's speaking to pray is such as his speech at first was, when he made the world, when he said, "Let there be light, and there was light:" so he says, let there be a prayer, and there is a prayer; that is, he pours upon a man a spirit of grace and supplication, a praying disposition; he puts in motives, suggests arguments and pleas to God; all which you shall find come in readily, and of themselves, and that likewise with a quickening heat and enlargement of affection, and with a lingering and longing, and restlessness of spirit to be alone, to pour out the soul to God, and to vent and form those motions and suggestions into a prayer, till you have laid them together, and made a prayer of them. And this is a speaking to the heart. Observe such times when God doth thus, and neglect them not, then to strike whilst the iron is hot; thou hast then his ear; it is a special opportunity for that business, such a one as thou mayest never have the like. Suitors at court observe molissima fandi tempora, their times of begging when they have kings in a good mood, which they will be sure to take the advantage of; but especially if they should find that the king himself should begin of himself to speak of the business which they would have of him: and thus that phrase of Psalms 10:17 , that God prepares the heart, is understood by some, that God prepares the heart, and causeth the ear to hear; that is, he fashions it and composes it into a praying frame. And sure it is a great sign that God means to hear us when himself shall thus indite the petition. Thomas Goodwin.
Verse 8. When thou saidst, etc. And well may this be pleaded, in that God useth not so to stir up and strengthen us to seek him, but when he intends to be found of us. Psalms 10:17 . "Thou hast heard the desire of the humble: thou wilt prepare their heart, thou wilt cause thine ear to hear." Jeremiah 29:13 . "And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart." And God maketh it an argument to himself, that if he say to any inwardly as well as outwardly, Seek my face, he that speaketh righteousness cannot speak thus to them, and frustrate their prayers, and so bid them seek his face in vain. Isaiah 45:19 , "I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain; I the Lord speak right things." If Ahasuerus bid his spouse to ask, surely he will not fail to grant her petition Esther 7:2 ; so here. And as when Christ called the blind man to come to him to tell him his grievance, it was truly said to him by them, "Be of good comfort, rise, for he calleth thee." Mark 10:49 . So it is in this case. Thomas Cobbett.
Verse 8. My heart said unto thee. The heart is between God and our obedience, as it were, an ambassador. It understands from God what God would have done, and then it lays a command upon the whole man. The heart and conscience of man is partly divine, partly human. It hath some divinity in it, especially if the man be a holy man. God speaks, and the heart speaks. God speaks to the heart, and the heart speaks to us. And ofttimes when we hear conscience speaking to us, we neglect it; and as St. Augustine said of himself, "God spake often to me, and I was ignorant of it." When there is no command in the word that the heart directly thinks of (as indeed many profane careless men scarce have a Bible in their houses), God speaks to them thus; conscience speaks to them some broken command, that they learn against their wills. They heed it not, but David did not so. God said, Seek ye my face: his heart answers, "Thy face, Lord, will I seek." The heart looks upward to God, and then to itself, My heart said. It said to thee and then to itself. First, his heart said to God, "Lord, I have encouragement from thee. Thou hast commanded that I should seek thy face." So his heart looked to God, and then it speaks to itself. Thy face, Lord, will I seek. It looks first to God, and then to all things that come from itself. Richard Sibbes.
Verse 8. There are diverse things considerable of us in this answer and compliance of David's with God's command or invitation to him. First, it was seasonable, and in due time; presently does David make this return: "Thy face, Lord, will I seek." This is the property and disposition of every wise and prudent Christian, to close with the very first opportunities of God's invitation. Secondly, this answer, as it was seasonable and present, so it was also full and complete; the performance was proportionable to the injunction. Ye shall have some kind of people in the world that God bids them do one thing and they will be sure to do the quite contrary; or, at least, not do as much as the should do, but do it by halves. But, now, here David makes return to God in the full extent and proportion of obedience. God said, Seek my face, and he answered Thy face, Lord, will I seek. Thirdly, it was real, and entire, and sincere; "My heart said." It is one thing to say it with the mouth, and it is another thing to say it with the heart. With the mouth it is quite easy and ordinary, and nothing more usual. Lord, thy face will we seek, especially in any trouble or calamity, which is incident unto us; but for the heart to say it, that is not so frequent. Fourthly, it was settled and peremptory. "Thy face will I seek;" there is nothing shall hinder me of it, or keep me from it, but I will do it against all opposition. Lastly, this protestation of David was absolute and indefinite and unlimited; "I will seek thy face;" without prescription of time, or place, or condition; not only now, but hereafter: not only for a time, but for ever, in all seasons, in all estates, in all circumstances, still I shall keep me to this -- to hold my communion with thee. Then are we Christians, indeed, when we are so immutably and irreversibly and independently upon the opinions or practices of any other person. Condensed from Thomas Horton.
Verse 8. God hath promised his favour, and, therefore, his people may seek his favour. Nay, he hath commanded his people to seek his favour, and therefore they should seek it. It is an unadvised folly, during the suspension of God's favour, to unson ourselves, and unpeople ourselves, i.e., by denying the grace and spiritual relation which exist between us and God. That is not the way to gain favour; for when we have undone our relation of children we exclude ourselves from the expectation of favour. No, the wisest and surest way is to seek the renewing of God's loving countenance, and not to be driven away from God by our unbelief. Obadiah Sedgwick, in "The Doubting Believer," 1653.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 8. The heart in tune with its God. Note, the promptness, heartiness, personality, unreservedness, accuracy, and resolution of the response to the precept.
Verse 8. The successful seeker. R. Sibbe's Sermon.
Verse 8. The echo. See Spurgeon's Sermons. No. 767.