Face (Countenance) (2)
Your face . . . is as a book, where men may read strange matters,” said Lady Macbeth to her husband. How true it is that people can often read our faces like a book. As noted yesterday, what the heartfeels, the facereveals. Let us each ask ourselves, then, what does my countenance tell others?
First, a “hard face” is the face of rebellion. As God sent Jeremiah through Jerusalem seeking a single person who “executeth judgment, that seeketh the truth” (Jer_5:1, July 30), we also read that “they [had] made their faces harder than a rock” and “refused to return” (Jer_5:3). Every parent has seen this face on their child, the face of defiance and revolt.
Sadly, most pastors have also seen this face. When the Word of God is preached, people often rebel, preferring to continue in sin rather than submit to truth. This is precisely why God told Jeremiah earlier, “Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the LORD” (Jer_1:8). Some will frown, fuss, and fume, so God needs men who will not fear the people’s faces.
Second, a “fallen countenance” is the face of rage. Cain is our example here (Gen_4:5-6). Spewing forth from offended pride, Cain’s anger exploded, being intended for God, whom he could not hurt, but aimed at Abel, whom he could hurt. Likewise, rebellion and rage are always a reaction against God’s revealed truth, whether or not we are even aware of it.
Third, a “fierce countenance” is the face of ruthlessness. Babylon itself is the model here, “a nation of fierce countenance” (Deu_28:50) that swooped down on Israel because of her rebellion. How we need to realize that God will not long tolerate rebellion!
Fourth, in stark contrast, is not the face of rejoicing to be much preferred? As Solomon encourages, “A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance” (Pro_15:13) and, “God giveth to a man that is good in his sight [pāniym] wisdom, and knowledge, and joy” (Ecc_2:26), and still again, “A man’s wisdom maketh his face to shine, and the boldness of his face shall be changed” (Ecc_8:1). And finally, the psalmist declares, “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God” (Psa_42:11).
Scriptures for Study: What does the hardened face indicate (Pro_21:29)? What can godly friends do for one another (Pro_27:17)?