1 Chronicles 16:11
Seek the LORD and his strength, seek his face continually.
We are bidden, in seeking the Lord, to seek both his strength and his face; and these two are set in such a connection of parallel sentences that we may assume them to be differing expressions for the same thing, though each helps to throw light on the other. The uses of the terms in the Book of Psalms need careful study. In this passage God's strength is thought of as having been illustrated in the successful bringing back of the ark; but that event was quite as fully a proof of the Divine favour - it indicated that God's face was turned smilingly towards both the king and the people. Such experiences of God's "strength" and "face' should establish the permanent resolve to seek that "strength" and "face" in all the more ordinary scenes in the life of the individual and the nation. For "strength," comp. 1 Samuel 15:29; Psalm 27:1; Psalm 29:1; Job 9:19; Psalm 46:1; Psalm 62:11; Psalm 68:34; Psalm 73:26, etc.; Isaiah 26:4; Isaiah 45:24. For "face," comp. Psalm 31:16; Psalm 67:1, etc.
I. GOD'S STRENGTH STRENGTHENETH MAN. Open and explain that man's physical energy depends upon his vital force, and his religious life upon his spiritual force. God has access to these secret sources, and can renew them with his own vitality. He "strengtheneth us with strength in our soul." He makes "all grace abound, so that we may have all-sufficiency in all things." The experience of the religious life unfolds the marvellous adaptations and fitnesses of Divine grace to the thousandfold needs that arise. No matter what may be our circumstances of perplexity and difficulty, there is always strength for us in God. It may come as an efficient help for bearing actual life-burdens, or for doing actual life-duties; and we should undertake none without prayerfully seeking to lay hold of the Divine strength. How it can be perfect in human weakness, so that a man may be strong to bear the unusual ills, and zealous to do the unusual duties, of life, is taught us in the example of the Lord Jesus Christ, and, after him, in the example of his servant St. Paul. But we should be quite sure that it will come as an inward renewal, if it may not come for the achievement of material success. We may be "strong in the Lord and in the power of his might;" and this is the assurance of the eternal triumph, if it is not of the earthly.
II. GOD'S STRENGTH IS CONNECTED WITH GOD'S FACE. He gives his strength with a smile. The turning of his face towards us is the sign of his approval and acceptance. The influence of such a mark of Divine regard may be illustrated.
1. It cheers and encourages. "If God be for us, who can be against us?"
2. It recovers us from depressions. There can be nothing overwhelming in our circumstances if God smiles on us. We look into his face and feel that they are causing him no anxiety, and so our heads are lifted up. He can make "ways in seas and paths in great waters."
3. It renews our fervour and zeal. The smile tells of such love that we feel we can do or bear anything for his sake.
4. It glorifies the right; for it is only on that God ever smiles. He approves the good, but turns away from the evil. And that must ever seem to to be the most beautiful on which God's smiling face can rest. Press, in conclusion, how the promises assure us that just these two things, or, better, this two-sided thing, God's strength and face, he is ever ready to give to those who with true hearts wait upon him. Those promises in effect say, "I will help thee, yea, I will uphold thee." And the uplifted smile says, "I have loved thee with an everlasting love, therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee." - R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: Seek the LORD and his strength, seek his face continually.