Theme: Where Will We Be?
In this week’s lessons we see how David dealt with injustice, and learn of our own need to find our refuge in the Lord Jesus Christ alone.
Scripture: Psalm 11:1-7
What can the righteous do? There is one more thing. David had looked around at the wicked. He has looked up to God. Now he looks ahead, concerned at this point not with the destiny of his enemies but with his own destiny and that of all who trust God. As the last verse says, “For the LORD is righteous, he loves justice; upright men will see his face” (v. 7).
This is no less than the beatific vision, the ultimate aspiration of the Old Testament saints—to see God face to face. Strangely, many commentators seem reluctant to admit this, pleading the incomplete and uncertain view of the afterlife Old Testament believers are supposed to have had. But although Old Testament understandings are obviously less developed than those of the New Testament, based as the latter are upon the resurrection and explicit teaching of Jesus, and although the idea of seeing God’s face could mean only that the light of his favor will shine upon the upright, it is nevertheless hard to suppose that David is not thinking here of the believer’s ultimate reward and bliss.6 He has just spoken of a future judgment on the wicked: “on the wicked he will reign fiery coals and burning sulfur” (v. 8). What is called for now is a parallel statement of what the same all-seeing and just God will do for the righteous.
They will see him! What a glorious thing that is. Remember how Moses asked that favor of God and was told he could not see him. God said, “I will put you in a cleft of the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen” (Exod. 33:23). As God says in verse 20, “You cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”
Yet this is what they were seeking. They pray for it many times in the Old Testament. How wonderful, then, to come to the end of the New Testament to the letters of the Apostle John, who gazed often on the face of the earthly Jesus, and find him promising, “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2). He then adds, “Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure” (v. 3). And we do.
What reason is given for why in verse 7 David is referring to the believer’s future reward, rather than to the Lord’s favor in this life?
List some ways we purify ourselves after the pattern of Jesus Christ.
Application: Are you looking forward to that future day when you will see the Lord as he is? Or have you become so weighed down with the injustices toward you that your spiritual perception and priorities are skewed and in need of a biblical realignment?
For Further Study: The only way that anyone can look away from the injustice of the wicked and ahead to the final destiny of all those who trust in God is through the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ. Our faith and hope must be in him alone, and in nothing else. Download for free and listen to James Boice’s message from Romans 9, “Righteousness Wrongly Sought by Works.” (Discount will be applied at checkout.)
6Franz Delitzsch says, “It is not possible to say that what is intended is a future vision of God; but it is just as little possible to say that it is exclusively a vision in this world. To the Old Testament conception the future…is certainly lost in the night of Sheol. But faith broke through this night and consoled itself with a future beholding of God” (Biblical Commentary on the Psalms, trans. Francis Bolton, vol. 1 [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, n.d.], p. 191. German edition 1859-1860. First English edition 1867).