Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19 | II Samuel 7:23-29 | John 3:31-36
There is something infectious about a person’s smile, an embrace, or a beaming look of acceptance and favor. When I was a child, I remember the feeling of joy when a parent, grandparent, or a teacher would give me that beaming look of joy. It made me feel accepted, safe, and secure. Sometimes, it is all that is needed in order to feel the faith and courage to move forward in difficult times.
Similarly, the psalmist in Psalm 80 finds that the nation is in distress, and he cries out three times to God, “Let your face shine, that we may be saved!” In spite of opposition from their enemies, the idea of the shining face of God upon them was a reassuring thought of divine favor and protection, of restoring that sense of joy, of knowing that God had not abandoned them, but is always faithful
When praying to God, it was very likely that the psalmist was thinking about the assuredness of God’s promises, particularly the one God gave to King David when He responded to David’s request to build God a house. In reply, God told David that He was going to build David a house – a dynasty that would last forever, with the promise that one of His descendants would always sit on the throne. This promise of God’s love and faithfulness resulted in a sense of joy and gratitude in David, who responded to God:
27 For you, O Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, have made this revelation to your servant, saying, ‘I will build you a house.’ Therefore your servant has found courage to pray this prayer to you. 28 And now, O Lord God, you are God, and your words are true, and you have promised this good thing to your servant. 29 Now therefore may it please you to bless the house of your servant, so that it may continue forever before you. For you, O Lord God, have spoken, and with your blessing shall the house of your servant be blessed forever.”
2 Sam 7:27-29 (ESV)
David’s courage to pray this prayer rested on the faithfulness of God’s love and promises that extended, not just to David, but to others who would be born afterwards. Likewise, the psalmist had the confidence to turn to God and pray for God’s favor to be on His people again. “Let your face shine, that we may be saved!”
As we celebrate this Advent season, we remember that Jesus Christ came into the world to fulfill God’s promises to David. As the descendent of King David, all the promises of God are fulfilled in Him. Christmas is the time when we remember not only the birth of Jesus Christ in the world accompanied by images of Mary and Joseph, the shepherd, the star, and the three wise men, but also that God’s face did indeed shine upon us. Joy to the world, our Lord has come!
Recently, I preached a sermon where I stated that in spite of the fact that celebrating Christmas is really not in the Bible, and that Jesus was not born on December 25th, we should nevertheless celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Doing so gives us the opportunity to share the joy that we have with others as we celebrate the Advent of God’s son into this world. Rather than being just another religious holiday, Christmas gives us the opportunity to share God’s faithfulness to His promises, which culminated in the sending of His son that through Jesus Christ, we may have salvation.
It is my prayer that as families gather together to celebrate the birth of Jesus, that we will be filled with joy during this season. In spite of difficulties, trials, and hardships, may God’s face shine upon us as we share His blessings with others.