As For Me
Where do you stand, dear reader? Where is your portion? Is it in this life or is in the life to come? Listen to the prayer of King David in Psalm 17: “From men [who are] thy hand, O Jehovah, from men of this age: their portion is in [this] life, and their belly thou fillest with thy hid [treasure]; they have their fill of sons, and leave the rest of their [substance] to their children. As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness” (vs. 14, 15). Now there is a contrast between these two verses, between “men of this age” whose “portion is in [this] life” and “As for me”. I ask you again, my reader, where do you stand?
This is intensely personal: “As for me” (my emphasis). Unlike so many other things, you can’t hang this on your friends, your family or your religious associates. This is about you. We have similar intensity elsewhere. Job: “And [as for] me, I know that my Redeemer liveth” (Job 19: 25). Mary: “they have taken away my Lord” (John 20: 13, my emphasis); Thomas: “My Lord and my God” (v28, my emphasis); Paul: “the Son of God, who has loved me and given himself for me” (Gal. 2: 20). We have it elsewhere with King David himself: “Jehovah is my shepherd” (Ps. 23: 1, my emphasis).
David is not interested in the portion of the men of this life, those who are living for the here and now. He is a king on this earth, but His interest is in one thing: “As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness” (Ps. 17: 15). Is that your hope, dear reader—to behold His face? Long before, Manoah had said to his wife after encountering the Angel of the Lord “we shall surely die, because we have seen God” (Judges 13: 22), but David has no qualms about the matter. You and I, with the knowledge of the incarnation can understand his complacency, for “God has been manifested in flesh” (1 Tim. 3: 16).
Notice that there is another distinction to be made in Psalm 17: it is to “behold thy face in righteousness” (Ps. 17: 15, my emphasis). Everyone, everywhere will one day behold the face of Christ but the experience for all will not be the same. There will be those who behold His face in their unrighteousness for God “has given all judgment to the Son” (John 5: 22). We read of such in Rev. 20: “And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled, and place was not found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened … And the sea gave up the dead which [were] in it, and death and hades gave up the dead which [were] in them” (vs. 11-13). Terrible prospect: avoidable now, but unavoidable then! What will it be to stand before a holy and sin-hating God in all my unrighteousness—in all my sin? No wonder that the apostle Paul can exclaim “knowing therefore the terror of the Lord we persuade men” (2 Cor. 5: 11)!
For the believer, the prospect is quite different. We shall behold His face not in unrighteousness but righteousness. Not our own righteousness for that has no value at all, “but that which is by faith of Christ, the righteousness which [is] of God through faith” (Phil. 3: 9). No terror, not even any anxiety, for we shall be beholding the One “whom, having not seen ye love” (1 Pet. 1: 8). We will have “boldness in the day of judgment”, for “there is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4: 17, 18).
But let us return to the psalm: “I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness” (Ps. 17: 15). Here we reach the climax of David’s prayer. In another psalm it says that “he hath satisfied the longing soul” (Ps. 107: 9) and here we have a soul that is completely satisfied. What do you and I know of it? David, and many an OT saint like him, have long been sleeping the sleep of death. Many others “have fallen asleep through Jesus” (1 Thess. 4: 14), their spirits “with Christ” (Phil. 1: 23), but their bodies in the grave. What was the hope of these dear saints? Surely the echo of what was uttered by King David long ago: “I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness” (Ps. 17: 15)! Oh my friend there is a time of awakening coming, and “as we have borne the image of the [one] made of dust, we shall bear also the image of the heavenly [one]” (1 Cor. 15: 49)! Certainly “we shall not all fall asleep, but we shall all be changed” (v51). Changed in what way? Let the apostle John answer: “Beloved, now are we children of God, and what we shall be has not yet been manifested; we know that if it is manifested we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3: 2). Is this your hope dear reader? It is your life not your words that must answer, for note the verse following: “And every one that has this hope in him purifies himself, even as he is pure” (v3). If there is no moral, separating, sanctifying effect, then sadly, we must call into question the claimed spiritual effect.