I shall behold your face

Psalm 17

This prayer is an urgent plea drawn from the psalmist’s experiences of everyday life.  Her first petition (v.1-2) appeals to the Lord as judge.  May God judge her innocence of that which her accusers seek to persecute her for.

Her second petition (v. 8), the exact centre of the prayer, expresses the hope that God will shelter her, like a mother hen sheltering her chicks.

The concluding statement is a prayer of confidence: 

        As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness;                                             

       when I awake I shall be satisfied, beholding your likeness.

In other words, the psalmist’s enemies do not dominate her vision.  Rather, she has her eyes fixed firmly on God – the God of life and hope!

Christians have long seen this a reference to the resurrection.  The great Scottish preacher requested these lines be carved on his tombstone in Edinburgh.

Recently, Desmond Tutu, archbishop of South Africa, died at the age of ninety.  The outspoken Tutu was considered the nation's conscience by both Black and white, an enduring testament to his faith and spirit of reconciliation in a divided nation.

He preached against the tyranny of white minority and even after its end, he never wavered in his fight for a fairer South Africa, calling the Black political elite to account with as much feistiness as he had the white Afrikaners.

Asked on his retirement as Archbishop of Cape Town in 1996 if he had any regrets, Tutu said: “The struggle tended to make one abrasive and more than a touch self-righteous. I hope that people will forgive me any hurts I may have caused them.”  He once said: ‘I wish I could shut up, but I can’t and I won’t.’    Tutu also said:  I've never doubted that apartheid - because it was of itself fundamentally, intrinsically evil - was going to bite the dust eventually.  His life therefore was driven by hope and a deep desire for reconciliation.  Surely he knew the truth of the psalmist’s word in 17.8 …

Guard me as the apple of the eye;
   hide me in the shadow of your wings….

In his final years, he regretted that his dream of a "Rainbow Nation" had not yet come true.

‘My soul is a witness’