on Psalms 27 :8
When thou saidst, Seek ye my face - How much labor and skill have been employed to make sense of this verse as it stands in our translation! The original words are the following, from which our Version has been forcibly extracted: -
לך אמר לבי בקשו פני את פניך יהוה אבקש lecha amar libbi bakkeshu panai; eth paneycha, Yehovah, abakkesh; of which I believe the true rendering to be as follows: "Unto thee, my heart, he hath said, Seek ye my face. Thy face, O Jehovah, I will seek. O my heart, God hath commanded thee to seek his face." Then, his face I will seek. Which may be paraphrased thus: Unto thee, his Church, God hath said Seek ye, all who compose it, my face. To which I, his Church, have answered, Thy face, O Jehovah, I will seek. On referring to Archbishop Secker, I find that he, and indeed Bishop Horsley, are of the same mind.
I had formerly proposed another method of reading this difficult verse. Suspecting that some error had got into the text, for בקשו פני bakkeshu panay, "seek ye my face," I had substituted אבקש פניך abakkesh paneycha, "I will seek thy face;" or with the Vulgate and Septuagint, בקשתי פניך bakkesti paneycha, "I have sought thy face," exquisivit te facies mea, Εξεζητησα το προσωπον σου. And this small alteration seemed to make a good sense: "My heart said unto thee, I have sought thy face, (or, I will seek thy face), and thy face, O Lord, I will seek." I have not only done what it was my duty and interest to do, but I will continue to do it. Some have proposed to mend the text thus: לך לך אמר לבי lech lecha, amar libbi, "Go to, saith my heart," נבקש פני יהוה nebakkesh peney Jehovah, "Let us seek the face of Jehovah." This is rather a violent emendation, and is supported by neither MSS. nor Versions. The whole verse is wanting in one of Dr. Kennicott's MSS. On the whole I prefer what is first proposed, and which requires no alteration in the text; next, that of the Vulgate and Septuagint.
The old Psalter paraphrases thus: Til yhe saide my hert, the my face soght: thy face, lord, I sal seke. "The gernyng of my hert that spekes til god, and he anely heres: saide til the my face, that es my presence soght the and na nother thyng. And fra now I sal seke thy face lastandly, til my dede; and that I fynd my sekyng:" i.e., To thee, said my heart; thee my face sought: thy face, O Lord, I shall seek. The gerning of my hert, that spekes til God, and he anely heres, "til the my face"; that es, my presence soght the and no nother thyng: and fra now I sal seke thy face lastandly, til my dede, and that I fynd my sekyng:" i.e., The yearning strong desire of my heart, which speaks to God, and he alone hears; my face is to thee; that is, myself sought thee, and none other thing, and from now I shall seek thee lastingly till my death, and till that I find what I seek.
on Psalms 27 :8
When thou saidst, Seek ye my face ... - Margin, "My heart said unto thee, Let my face seek thy face." The literal translation would be: "To Thee hath said my heart, Seek ye my face; thy face, O Lord, will I seek." DeWette thus expresses the idea, "Of thee my heart thinks (in regard to the command to seek thy face), thy face, Lord, I will seek." Our translators have given the correct meaning, though the original is quite obscure. The passage is designed to denote the state of the mind, or the disposition, in regard to the commands of God. The command or precept was to seek God. The prompt purpose of the mind or heart of the psalmist was, that he would do it. He "immediately" complied with that command, as it was a principle of his life - one of the steady promptings of his heart - that he would do this. The heart asked no excuse; pleaded for no delay; desired no reason for not complying with the command, but at once assented to the propriety of the law, and resolved to obey. This related undoubtedly at first to prayer, but the "principle" is applicable to all the commands of God. It is the prompting of a pious heart immediately and always to obey the voice of God, no matter what his command is, and no matter what sacrifice may be required in obeying it.
on Psalms 27 :8