Seeking Your Face

The LORD’s are the earth and its fullness;
the world and those who dwell in it.
For he founded it upon the seas
and established it upon the rivers.

Who can ascend the mountain of the LORD?
or who may stand in his holy place?
He whose hands are sinless, whose heart is clean,
who desires not what is vain.

He shall receive a blessing from the LORD,
a reward from God his savior.
Such is the race that seeks for him,
that seeks the face of the God of Jacob.
(Psalm 24:1-6)

Scripture Study

The Psalm apparently accompanied a ceremony of the entry of God (invisibly enthroned upon the ark), followed by the people, into the Temple. The Temple commemorated the creation of the world (Ps 24:1–2). The people had to affirm their fidelity before being admitted into the sanctuary (Ps 24:3–6; cf. Ps 15). A choir identifies the approaching God and invites the very Temple gates to bow down in obeisance (Ps 24:7–10).[1]

24:1–2. This first stanza (recording perhaps the words of a Levite or a temple servant on seeing the approach of pilgrims) echoes Genesis 1:1–10: God is the lord of all things because he created them (cf. Ex 9:29; Deut 10:14) and he set the earth upon the seas (in line with ancient eastern cosmogony: cf. Job 38:4–6; Ps 104:5); yet, at the same time God has made himself accessible in the temple. St Paul appeals to the opening words of this psalm, “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it”, to show that there are no unclean foods, contrary to the view of some Christians of Jewish bent (cf. 1 Cor 10:25–26). These words show that all created things are good.

24:3–6. These verses would have come from an entrance rite at the temple: to a question put by visitors (v. 3), a Levite or porter replies by stating the conditions to be met if one is to receive the Lord’s blessing there (vv. 4–5). Unlike Psalm 15, where there is mention only of proper respect for one’s neighbour (referred to in a condensed way here), there is the additional requirement about not worshipping idols (“what is false”: v. 4). Verse 6 may come from a reply made by incoming pilgrims—identifying themselves as worshippers of the God of Israel.[2]

 

Reflection

“Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face”

Even seeking has a sanctifying influence; what a consecrating power must lie in finding and enjoying the Lord’s face and favor! To desire communion with God is a purifying thing. Oh to hunger and thirst more and more after a clear vision of the face of God; this will lead us to purge ourselves from all filthiness, and to walk with heavenly circumspection. He who longs to see his friend when he passes takes care to clear the mist from the window, lest by any means his friend should go by unobserved. Really awakened souls seek the Lord above everything, and as this is not the usual desire of mankind, they constitute a generation by themselves; a people despised of men but beloved of God.

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

 

 

[1] Donald Senior, John J. Collins, and Mary Ann Getty, eds., The Catholic Study Bible, 2nd Ed.: Notes, 2nd ed., vol. 2 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011), 743.
[2]  James Gavigan, Brian McCarthy, and Thomas McGovern, eds., Psalms and the Song of Solomon, The Navarre Bible (Dublin; New York: Four Courts Press; Scepter Publishers, 2003), 99–100.