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Who Can Seek God? Part One

John on August 7, 2006 at 12:16 am

Rev. Ken Silva has asked me to respond to a number of verses regarding who can seek God. I wrote about at least one of these verses in a comment over at Slice that, it seems, several people overlooked. I’ve decided to go ahead and expand those comments here, as I think it’s a good topic for a post anyway. In fact, I’m expanding to the point that this will be two posts, one Old Testament and one New.

We’ll begin with the Old Testament since the first verse I was asked to comment on is Psalm 14:1-3:

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good. The Lord looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. All have turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.

This is a psalm of David. It appears David is saying no one seeks God. Sounds pretty cut and dried. But wait a moment. Look what David says to his son Solomon in 1 Chronicles 28:

“And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever.

David appears to be contradicting himself. If no one can seek God, why would he instruct his son — the future ruler of Israel — to do so? I’m not sure. Let’s proceed and see what else David says about seeking God. In Psalm 9, David writes:

Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you. (v.10)

A few psalms later in Psalm 22, David writes:

The poor will eat and be satisfied; they who seek the Lord will praise him– may your hearts live forever! (v. 26)

Note the implied connection to eternal life. Matthew Henry says of this verse:

Those shall praise the Lord that seek him, because through Christ they are sure of finding him, in the hopes of which they have reason to praise him even while they are seeking him, and the more earnest they are in seeking him the more will their hearts be enlarged in his praises when they have found him.

Just a few psalms later, Psalm 27, David says that he himself seeks the Lord:

One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.(v.4)

At this point I think it should be pretty clear that David is not being completely literal in Psalm 14:1-3. Clearly some do seek the Lord, including David himself. In addition, he indicate in several other psalms that those who seek him earnestly will find him.

Moving beyond David, let’s look at a few more verses to flesh out the picture of what the Old Testament says about seeking God. First a short and sweet one, Proverbs 8:17 says:

I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me.

Next, Jeremiah 29:13 reads:

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

Seems pretty clear. Here’s Lamentations 3:25:

The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him

I’m seeing a pattern develop. Here’s Hosea 10:12:

Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, until he comes and showers righteousness on you.

In Deuteronomy 4 God is predicting dark days ahead for Israel, he says:

You will worship man-made gods of wood and stone, which cannot see or hear or eat or smell. But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul.(v. 28-29)

So God is describing a time when Israel will, essentially, be pagan. And yet he says that if they seek him with all their heart and soul, they will find him again. Finally, I’ve saved the best for last. Isaiah 55:1-6:

1 “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. 2 Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. 3 Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David. 4 See, I have made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander of the peoples. 5 Surely you will summon nations you know not, and nations that do not know you will hasten to you, because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has endowed you with splendor.”

6 Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near. 7 Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.

This is a tremendous prophetic passage. Note how similar verses 1-2 are to the words Jesus spoke to the woman at the well. Note the promise of an “everlasting covenant.” Note how in verse 5 this covenant will be extended to the nations. This is a passage about Jesus. But the most spectacular part is verses 6-7 which contains the following statements:

  • Seek the Lord…
  • Call on him…
  • Let the wicked forsake his way…
  • Let him turn to the Lord
  • He will have mercy on him
  • He will freely pardon.

There can be little doubt what this refers to. It is describing repentance and God’s saving grace through Jesus. Again, I’ll quote Matthew Henry on these verses:

It is implied that now God is near and will be found, so that it shall not be in vain to seek him and to call upon him. Now his patience is waiting on us, his word is calling to us, and his Spirit striving with us.

According to this prophetic passage, the starting point of repentance and salvation is for the wicked to seek the Lord.

Part Two tomorrow…

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Category: Religion & Faith |

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