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BS''D
God's Search for Man
Marc Chagall - Jeremiah

    B"H 17 Adar II, 5771

God's Search for Man

Deep calleth unto Deep...

by John J. Parsons

Psalm 105-4 BHS

"Seek the LORD and his strength; seek His presence continually."
 (Psalm 105:4)

"SEEK ... SEEK." Two different Hebrew words are used to express the idea of "seeking" the LORD in this verse. The first word is darash (דָּרַשׁ), which means to inquire or search carefully for something, and the second is bakash (בָּקַשׁ), which means to request something desired. Both kinds are seeking are needed, and in this order. First we need to know the LORD and the power of His might, and then we need to petition Him daily for help in our lives.

We must "carefully seek" God because His presence is often hidden from us. "I will hide my face... because you have turned..." (Deut. 31:17-18). Put another way, the "hiding of God's face" comes from our own hiding from God. Our sins separate us from God and cause His face to be hidden from us (Isa. 59:2). It is never God who turns away from us, but we who turn away from Him...

God created man for loving fellowship, but man broke fellowship with God and turned away. Man's sin led to self-imposed exile and death. When God asked Adam, "Where are you?" he was asking him to "come out of hiding" to confess the truth about his condition (Gen. 3:9). Sin leads to the shame of alienation and ultimately to death.

But God never turned away from His love for man, not even after man had chosen to turn away from Him. God pursued man, even to the point of dying in his place as a sinner (Rom. 5:8). Yes, "God so loved the world" that He paid the price for man's sin and thereby delivered us from our exile. Just as both hands were placed on the head of an sacrificial animal to symbolize the "life for life" identification and exchange of the sinner with the sacrifice, so our sinful identity is exchanged for the righteousness of Messiah sacrificed on our behalf.... By faith we "lean our hands" upon the head of Yeshua, accepting that He is our sacrificial substitute before the Father. We "lean into Him," meaning we trust in the merit of His sacrifice and abandon our sins with Him... At the Cross God turns to us so that we can turn back to Him. It is the place where God cries out, "Here I am, Here I am" (Isa. 65:1).

"Seek ... seek." We seek God because He first sought us. This is always the right order. We "seek the LORD and His strength," which is another way of saying that "salvation is from the LORD" (Psalm 3:8). We do not seek God in the power of our own strength, but by trusting in the power of His might. "Not by works of righteousness," but by the heart's cry and trust... And we "seek His presence" always. Fellowship with God comes when we abide in a trusting relationship with Him. The Hebrew word "tamid" (תָּמִיד) recalls the perpetual sacrifice made on our behalf. Because of Yeshua's constant intercession, we can boldly draw near to the Throne of Grace to receive help in time of need (Heb. 4:16; 7:25).


A Closing Thought:

Over and over the Scriptures command us to seek God's presence. "Seek the LORD while he may be found; call upon him while he is near" (Isa. 55:6); "Seek the LORD and live" (Amos 5:6); ‎"You will seek me and find me, when you search for me with all your heart" (Jer. 29:13). We are commanded to seek God because God wants to be sought; likewise, God seeks us because we desperately need His love... It is a "reciprocal seeking," a holy reconciliation, that the Spirit bears within us. As we draw near to God, He will draw near to us (James 4:8). Let us draw near to Him now.

Hebrew-English Transliteration:

Hebrew-English transliteration

dirshu Adonai v'uzo, bakeshu fanav tamid

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Addendum: Seeking and Torah

The idea of seeking "God's face" is an idiom to refer to the Divine Presence and Power, though some of the mystics have said that the metaphor is intended to represent God's attributes of mercy and compassion (יהוה) rather than His attributes of justice (אֱלהִים). It was the LORD (YHVH) who breathed into man the "breath of life" (Gen. 2:7).

Historically speaking, the verse of our meditation comes from a psalm that was sung after the Ark of the Covenant (אֲרוֹן בְּרִית־יְהוָה) was brought to the Tabernacle of David at Zion (1 Chron. 16:1-36). This connection has led some scholars to regard the idea of "seeking" the LORD as being tied to the priestly avodah performed on behalf of Israel. Semantically speaking, however, the word darash (דָּרַשׁ) has a range of usage in the Scripture, including demanding or requiring something (Gen. 9:5, Psalm 9:12, Deut. 32:21), inquiring or asking God for help (Gen. 25:22, Exod. 18:15; 1 Sam. 9:9), searching carefully for something (Lev. 10:16, Jer. 30:14), investigating the truth of a matter (Deut. 13:14, 17:9), and so on. During the Second Temple period, this verb became associated with searching the Scriptures for God's truth (Ezra 7:10), and by Talmudic times, it primarily meant to study the Torah (and by implication, the writings of the early sages).  Hence a "midrash" (from the same root) referred to a study of Scripture, a "bet midrash" was a house of study (school), a "drasha" was a sermon, and so on. Indeed, in modern times the phrase "dirshu Hashem v'uzo" has come to mean the study of the Torah that gives strength. Among orthodox Jews, "Dirshu Hashem v'uzo, bakshu panav tamid" means that we are to seek Hashem, His Torah and His countenance always, primarily through Talmud Torah - the study of the Torah.

Finally, the Hebrew verb darash may be etymologically related to an earlier root (i.e., darakh: דָּרַךְ) that means "to walk" or "tread" (the noun form, i.e., derekh: דֶּרֶךְ, means "pathway," or "journey"). This would seem to imply that seeking the LORD is expressed through the walk of faith as expressed by our decisions.

 

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