“Satisfied With Your Likeness When I Awake”
By Jon W. Quinn
“As for me, I shall behold Your face in righteousness; I will be satisfied with Your likeness when I awake” (Psalm 17:15). David was right in the thick of it. His enemies were powerful. They were dedicating themselves to his destruction. They were prosperous and ambitious. They were popular in many regions of the land. They had achieved many great accomplishments. They had amassed wealth and fame and cared little for the Lord. So why were things going so well for them?
David, on the other hand, was a fugitive. He should have been a national hero, and had been for a while, at least until his enemies became jealous and turned on him. Now, in spite of his loyalty and services rendered, he was a hunted man.
Whatever would happen, David knew that his ultimate victory would be enjoyed beyond this world. It would occur on the day he beheld God's face and be transformed into God's likeness. Then he would know the greatest possible satisfaction.
That will be then. But now is now. David speaks of the dangers to which he is exposed and asks God for help: “Wondrously show Your lovingkindness, O Savior of those who take refuge at Your right hand From those who rise up against them. Keep me as the apple of the eye; Hide me in the shadow of Your wings From the wicked who despoil me, My deadly enemies who surround me. They have closed their unfeeling heart, With their mouth they speak proudly. They have now surrounded us in our steps; They set their eyes to cast us down to the ground. He is like a lion that is eager to tear, And as a young lion lurking in hiding places” (Psalm 17:7-12).
David's words also give us a little insight into the workings of the minds of his enemies. Where David expresses his confidence in God and in eternity, his enemies care little about such things. Their interests rested solely on this world's riches. David says, “From men with Your hand, O LORD, From men of the world, whose portion is in this life, And whose belly You fill with Your treasure; They are satisfied with children, And leave their abundance to their babes” (Psalm 17:14). You see the contrast? The wicked thought only of this life. David's thoughts included preparing for eternity (see also Psalm 11:7).
Infatuation With This World
Here we are, many centuries later, and we find an abundance of the same mentality in the world today that first belonged to David's enemies. It was a spiritually and morally bankrupt philosophy them, and still is today. When such a one leaves this world, he leaves everything. He has nothing to salvage from his life except utter ruin. You cannot take it with you.
In the New Testament, Paul made similar observation and also contrasted the one whose hope is only in this world with the one who has hope both in this life and the life to come. He said, “Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us. For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things. For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ;” (Philippians 3:17-20).
There Is Something Better
David was firmly committed to the belief that there was something much better than that for which his enemies had settled. That is also the belief of disciples of Jesus. David's belief was active. It changed the way he behaved. So often David opposes even his friends when they suggest doing something contrary to the Lord's will. This is because David chose to live by faith, and that meant obeying God's will. It still does today.
David saw that righteous living was necessary to maintain the hope of eternal victory. When he fell short, he realized that he was putting his eternal victory at risk, and so he would repent. Throughout the ordeal spoken of in our text, David had continued to walk righteously; “My steps have held fast to Your paths. My feet have not slipped” (Psalm 17:5). But at other times, he would fail to be all that he ought to be, and so he would seek the Lord's forgiveness:
“Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Make me to hear joy and gladness,
Let the bones which You have broken rejoice.
Hide Your face from my sins
And blot out all my iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from Your presence
And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of Your salvation
And sustain me with a willing spirit”
David did not want to lose his salvation, and knew that repentance and forgiveness was needed to correct his mistakes. He knew that whatever things he might gain here, that he could not take them with him. He knew that no one but God can satisfy the deepest longings of the human spirit. Do not be deceived into settling for things that are passing away (2 Corinthians 4:8).
To Live With God
Life's ultimate purpose is to go home to live with God in a perfect place. If your life is not leading you to eternity in heaven, then you're headed in the wrong direction. Whatever distracts you from final and complete victory in Jesus must be cast aside.
David looked forward to “awaking” in a perfectly “satisfied” state in the “likeness” of God. But that transformation must begin now. To be with God then, I must become more like Him now.
“For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren; and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.” (Romans 8:29-30; cf. 1 John 3:2; 1 Corinthians 15:42-45; 50-55). Do not settle for less than this!
By Jon W. Quinn
From Expository Files 20.12; December 2013