Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.
The book of First Chronicles can perhaps be best described as the book of God‘s perspective on Israel, and while not very different from the books of first and second Samuel and first and second Kings in the sense that it is a historical book in a chronological manner of the same period of time, 1 Chronicles offer a unique perspective not found anywhere else in the Bible. The first 9 chapters of 1 Chronicles is an amazingly detailed genealogy from Adam to David – without doubt the most detailed series of genealogy found in the entirety of the Bible and proves to be very significant in proving the bloodline of the Israelites. The subsequent 20 chapters begin from the death of King Saul in chapter 10, and depicts the events of David‘s reign – most notably, as the prequel to today’s verse, the return of the ark of Covenant from the Philistines to Jerusalem. In 1 Chronicles 16 David has just overseen the ark of the convenant of the Lord being settled in the city of David, and was singing a psalm of thanksgiving in celebration of that event.
King David is likely the most prominent psalmist in the Bible, and his works are not found only in the book of Psalms. 1 Chronicles 16 is an example, and gives us an insight on how the psalms were sang in the past. They may not have a modern electronic band like some of us do today, but that does not mean that they were not a full band. In fact, in lyres and harps, cymbals and trumpets [1 Chronicles 16:5-6], they had very rich music.
This was a psalm of thanksgiving, mostly containing of verses that extol God, how He has fulfilled his promises, and how we should turn to him in order that we can worship Him, the latter being a minority, mainly manifested in 1 Chronicles 16:11-12 (below) and few other instances.
Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always. Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced.
Look to the Lord – In most other versions the word look is rendered as seek, which may be clearer to us that we should actively go to the Lord, find him, look for him. Seek the Lord, and His strength. Why does David urge his people to seek the Lord? The rest of the psalm explains this one verse – because of all his wonderful acts , because of his wonders, his miracles, his judgement , because he is the Lord our God , because he remembers his convenants , because he protects his people , because of his marvelous deeds , because he is to be feared above all gods , because he made the heavens , because he is full of strength and joy , because of his name , his holiness , because he is good and his love endures forever , because he is everlasting . David uses all these as supporting rationales as to why all should worship the Lord – and in order to worship God, we need to first turn to God, look to God, seek him. Not that God is hard to find, but seek connotes a constructive action – we need to always eagerly seek God, even if it seems as if he is not nearby.
and his strength – I can do everything through him who gives me strength [Phil 4:13]. Our strength comes from God, because – Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and joy in his dwelling place [1 Chron 16:17] – In God there is great strength. He has an abundance of strength. In Him, we can gain great strength. God’s power is made perfect in our weaknesses [2 Cor 12:9|Article]. Even in times when we are lacking, or feel helpless – he gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak [Isa 40:29]. Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you [Deu 31:6]. The strength of men – our own strength – will fail us. But the strength that we can find in the Lord will never fail us. Seek God, who is everlasting, in good times and in harder times, and seek not the strength of men, but seek the strength of the Lord.
Seek his face continually – Seek his face, and thus, seeking his presence, seeking the favour of God. Enjoy his gracious presence, his light countenance, communion with him through Christ. In another of David’s psalms he says, my heart says of you, “Seek his face!” Your face, Lord, I will seek [Psalm 27:8], expressing a fervent desire to seek God. We will never seek God in vain – we will always find God should we truly seek him. At times it may seem as though God is not there, at times we may be unable to see God or feel him in our trials, but our understanding and faith that God will never leave us or forsake us must always outweigh our circumstances and manifest in a search for God that never gives up. This is also a reminder for us to seek God continually – in good times or in bad times, we should never slack off in seeking God. God is more than deserving of that.
The weight of this verse is heightened by the events of the history of Israel that led to David celebrating and worshiping the Lord through this verse. Through it all, God was with them. Whenever they sought the Lord, the Lord has been there, protected them, and blessed them. The return of the ark of convenant – which represents God’s promise to Israel, a chest of great and mysterious power – was a big thing to the Israelites. We may not have such a great cause to celebrate today, but in everything that we do, David urges to seek God and his strength, seek his presence continually. Let us take heart in this verse, and let this verse serve as a reminder for us to never stop seeking the Lord, whether in good times or bad.