Psalm 31:16

ESV Make your face shine on your servant; save me in your steadfast love!
NIV Let your face shine on your servant; save me in your unfailing love.
NASB Make Your face shine upon Your servant; Save me in Your faithfulness.
CSB Make your face shine on your servant; save me by your faithful love.
NLT Let your favor shine on your servant. In your unfailing love, rescue me.
KJV Make thy face to shine upon thy servant: save me for thy mercies' sake.

What does Psalm 31:16 mean?

In the ancient middle east, references to a "shining" face implied joy and happiness. Even today, in modern English, we say that a face showing intense happiness is "beaming." God causing His face to shine on someone implied His favor and blessing. This turn of phrase blended well with the Hebrew concept of "light" as the embodiment of truth and goodness. The idea of God shining His face, thus bringing a blessing, was a major component in Aaron's designated blessing for Israel (Numbers 6:22–27). Other psalms echo the same imagery (Psalm 4:6; 67:1; 80:3).

Although he was anointed to be king, David identifies himself as the Lord's servant. Humility is a virtue every believer should possess. It's an especially crucial attitude when approaching God in prayer. Even a king of people on earth should humbly recognize how finite and dependent he is on the King of the universe.

David asks not only for God's undeserved favor, but also for deliverance from his enemies (Psalm 31:11–15). His plea for rescue is grounded in faith in the Lord's unfailing love. Victory over harsh circumstances and persecution is possible only because the Lord is gracious and loving!
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