The LORD Sees and Hears (Psalm 34:15-16)
The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry. 16 The face of the LORD is against those who do evil, to cut off the memory of them from the earth. —Psalm 34:15-16
Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre tells Mr Rochester, “We were born to strive and endure.” A popular Christian contemporary song teaches “we believe in God ’cause life is hard, and it might not get easier.” They are not alone in this outlook; the Word of God is replete with examples of suffering: Job, reflecting on his sudden calamity opines “man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward.” The apostle Paul gives full testimony to the many pains he and his fellow evangelists endured as they faithfully preached the Gospel; Ecclesiastes’ “preacher” spends most of his text recounting the numerous follies and turmoil of man’s existence and the book of Psalms, that give us this week’s memory verses, is also filled with stories of personal and corporate agony of God’s people.
In our lives, we experience various types of fears and sorrows. Parents fear for their children and want the best for them, praying the Lord would keep them from sin and harm; those unmarried patiently seek and wait while serving God humbly yet seeing the hope of fulfilling their desire slowly fading in the rear view mirror, praying the Lord would not forget them; married saints sometimes feel their marriage isn’t quite measuring up to the dreams they held before they wed; the jobless who, though qualified and eager, are not hired; hard-working, intelligent employees are continually passed over for promotion as they watch the “insider” rise higher and higher.
The reality of life’s trials are all around us but we also have in today’s Fighter Verses from Psalm 34:15-16 the truth that turns what otherwise could be immobilizing, debilitating sadness into powerful hope and joy: “The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry. The face of the LORD is against those who do evil, to cut off the memory of them from the earth.”
This Psalm is David’s thanksgiving and praise to God for saving him from the hand of the king of Gath, when David was fleeing Saul who was seeking his life. This is a very low point in David’s life: sought after at home and abroad, acting the fool in front of a king and his entire court, as well as David’s own men who had left all to follow him, on the run and uncertain of what each day would bring. In this Psalm the depth of pain is evident: “I sought the Lord,” “…all my fears,” “this poor man cried,” “…out of all his troubles.”
Answering all this despair, soaring higher still are God’s actions on David’s behalf: “he answered me,” “delivered me,” “the LORD heard and saved and delivered.”
The intimacy of God’s presence is on display—his face, eyes, and ears are toward his people; the angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear Him—and mirroring God’s posture toward them, “Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.” Those who do evil (i.e., are not repentant, faithful believers, clinging to God) experience the opposite—they are cut off. The Psalm immediately returns to the main theme in verses 17-19: “When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all.”
So, when faced with sorrow, fear, or frustration, know that the LORD sees and hears. Follow the example of Solomon, in dedicating the temple, asking God to “listen to the cry and to the prayer that your servant prays before you this day that your eyes may be open night and day toward this house…that you may listen to the prayer…And listen to the pleas of your servant and of your people…and when you hear, forgive.” Likewise Daniel, exiled from home and this very temple now destroyed, prayed to God: “Now therefore, O our God, listen to the prayer of your servant and to his pleas for mercy, and for your own sake, O Lord, make your face to shine upon your sanctuary, which is desolate. O my God, incline your ear and hear. Open your eyes and see our desolations, and the city that is called by your name. O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. O Lord, pay attention and act. Delay not, for your own sake, O my God, because your city and your people are called by your name.”
The promise of Psalm 34: 15-16 and the praise and prayers that it elicits is not only for God’s people of yesterday—it remains for His people today. Even today His face is toward them, His eyes upon them and His ears open to their cry. Because of this, God’s people can fervently rely on Him, pour out their hearts in praise and supplication, trusting in His care.
Parents, in what ways does the reality of God’s care for you help you in raising, nurturing, teaching, and protecting your children?
How can you teach your children to “cry out to God” when they are hurt or afraid?
What are some ways the LORD has been attentive to your cry, or has turned His face and eyes toward you–as individuals and as a family?