Psalm 24:6
This is the generation of them that seek him, that seek thy face, O Jacob. Selah.
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(6) O Jacob.—The address to Jacob is certainly wrong, and therefore many critics, following the LXX. and Syriac, rightly insert, as in our margin, the words “O God of.”

Psalm 24:6. This is the generation of them that seek him — The true progeny, which God regards, that make it their care and study to know him, and his mind and will, and to please and serve him. Whereby he reflects upon them who boasted of, and trusted in, their carnal descent from Abraham and the other patriarchs. That seek thy face, O Jacob — That is, O God of Jacob, that seek thy grace and favour, often called God’s face. Such ought the people to be who seek the presence of God, and approach to worship him in the sanctuary. And such ought they to be who celebrate the ascension of the Redeemer, and hope, one day, to follow him into those happy mansions which he is gone before to prepare for them.

24:1-6 We ourselves are not our own; our bodies, our souls, are not. Even those of the children of men are God's, who know him not, nor own their relation to him. A soul that knows and considers its own nature, and that it must live for ever, when it has viewed the earth and the fulness thereof, will sit down unsatisfied. It will think of ascending toward God, and will ask, What shall I do, that I may abide in that happy, holy place, where he makes his people holy and happy? We make nothing of religion, if we do not make heart-work of it. We can only be cleansed from our sins, and renewed unto holiness, by the blood of Christ and the washing of the Holy Ghost. Thus we become his people; thus we receive blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of our salvation. God's peculiar people shall be made truly and for ever happy. Where God gives righteousness, he designs salvation. Those that are made meet for heaven, shall be brought safe to heaven, and will find what they have been seeking.This is the generation of them that seek him - This describes the race of those who seek Him; or, this is their character. The word "generation" here is used evidently in the sense of "race, people, or persons." This is the character or description of the "persons" who seek His favor; or, this is the character of His true friends. The phrase "to seek God" is often used as descriptive of true piety: Psalm 9:10; Psalm 14:2; Psalm 63:1; Proverbs 8:17; Matthew 6:33; Matthew 7:7. It indicates an earnest desire to know Him and to obtain His favor. It denotes also humility of mind, and a sense of dependence on God.

That seek thy face, O Jacob - Margin, O "God of" Jacob. DeWette understands this as meaning that they would seek the face of God among His people; or that they who belonged to the race of Jacob, and who were sincere, thus sought the face of God. There is supposed to be, according to this interpretation, a distinction between the true and the false Israel; between those who professed to be the people of God and those who really were His people (compare Romans 9:6-8). It seems to me that the word is not used here as it is in the margin to denote the "God of Jacob," which would be a harsh and an unusual construction, but that it is in apposition with the preceding words, as denoting what constituted the true Jacob, or the true people of God. "This is the generation of them that seek him; this is the true Jacob, that seek thy face, O Lord." That is, this is the characteristic of all who properly belong to the race of Jacob, or who properly belong to God as his true people. The sense, however, is not materially affected if we adopt the reading in the margin.

6. Jacob—By "Jacob," we may understand God's people (compare Isa 43:22; 44:2, &c.), corresponding to "the generation," as if he had said, "those who seek Thy face are Thy chosen people." The generation; the true progeny which God regards; whereby he reflects upon them, who boasted and trusted to their carnal generation or descent from Jacob.

That seek him, to wit, God, mentioned in the end of Psalm 24:5, or his face, as it is more fully expressed in the next clause; i.e. that make it their care and study to know him, and his mind and will, and to please and serve him, as this phrase is usually understood.

Thy face, i.e. his face, by a familiar change of the person; of which many instances have been already noted; and his face, i. e. his grace and favour, which is oft called God’s face, as Genesis 4:14 Exodus 33:14,15 Psa 16:11 27:2 44:3. And so this phrase is used 2 Chronicles 7:14 Psalm 27:8 Hosea 5:15. O Jacob; so the sense is, that seek the true church, here called Jacob; that desire the knowledge of it, and conversation with it; in which sense many are said to seek Solomon’s face, as the phrase is in the Hebrew, 1 Kings 10:24 2 Chronicles 9:23, and the harlot to seek her lover’s face, Proverbs 7:15. And so this is by some expounded of the Gentiles, who inquired after the true church, and finding it in Jacob, were desirous to become proselytes, and to join themselves to the church of Jacob or Israel. But it must be remembered that the psalmist is not here speaking of the calling of the Gentiles, but only of the character or qualification of the true Jacobites or Israelites, who cannot conveniently be said to seek the face of Jacob, i.e. their own. And the phrase of seeking the face of Jacob, or of the church, is no where used in Scripture. Or, as it is in the margin, O God of Jacob. But that seems to be too large a supplement. Or, this is Jacob, the pronoun this being easily understood out of the beginning of the verse. Or, the generation (which may in the same manner be supplied) of Jacob, Jacob being here put not for the person, but for the posterity of Jacob, as it is Genesis 49:7 Numbers 23:7,10,23 Deu 32:9 Psalm 14:7; or for the church or people of God, which is oft called Jacob or Israel as Isaiah 14:1 41:8 44:1,5,21, &c. So the sense is, This and this only is the true Jacob or Israel, or church of God, and all others are so only in name and title, although they be descended lineally from him. Or, in Jacob, the particle in being here understood, as it is in Psalm 2:12 17:12, and in many other places. So the sense of the place is, This is the true generation of them that seek God’s face in Jacob, i.e. either in Jacob’s land or sanctuary, the only place where God was to be sought; or among the Jacobites or Israelites; by which he insinuates what is expressed Romans 9:6, that all are not Israel that are of Israel, and that all were not Israelites indeed that were sprung from Jacob, but only those of them who were such as he described, Psalm 24:4. Compare John 1:47 Romans 2:28,29.

This is the generation of them that seek him,.... The persons above described are such, who in every age are the generation of the children of God, and are accounted by him for a generation; they are such that seek him, in the first place, with their whole hearts, and in Christ, where they find him;

that seek thy face, O Jacob. By the "face" of God is meant the favour of God, the discoveries of his love, the light of his countenance, than which nothing is more desirable to gracious souls, or more sought after by them; and by Jacob is meant the God of Jacob; and so Apollinarius has it in his metaphrase; see Psalm 10:1; unless Christ should be intended, one of whose names is Israel, Isaiah 49:3; or the words may be supplied, as they are by some Jewish writers (m), "this is Jacob"; or the persons before described are the seed of Jacob, and who are called by his name: and it may be observed, that the church of God often bears the same name, Isaiah 43:1; and then the sense is, the persons whose characters are given above are fit to ascend, and stand in the holy hill of God, are Israelites indeed, in whom there is no guile.

Selah; on this word; see Gill on Psalm 3:2.

(m) Aben Ezra, Kimchi, & Ben Melech in loc.

This is the {b} generation of them that seek him, that seek thy face, O Jacob. Selah.

(b) Though circumcision separates the carnal seed of Jacob, from the Gentiles, yet he who seeks God, is the true Jacob and an Israelite.

6. generation] i.e. class, as in Psalm 12:7; Psalm 14:5; Psalm 73:15.

that seek him] R.V., that seek after him. Two words for seek are used in this verse. Both may be used of the outward act of visiting the sanctuary; but both come to express the inward purpose of the heart as well. So far as the two words can be distinguished the first denotes the attitude of loving devotion, the second that of inquiry or supplication.

O Jacob] The A.V. marg. and R.V. rightly follow the LXX, Vulg., and Syr. in reading O God of Jacob. If the Massoretic text is retained, it must be rendered with R.V. marg., That seek thy face, even Jacob. These are the ideal Jacob, the true people of God. But the construction is harsh; a vocative is needed after thy face; and Jacob does not by itself convey this sense.

Verse 6. - This is the generation of them that seek him. Men with this character impressed upon them are the "generation," the stamp of men, whom God will recognize and accept as his worshippers, true seekers after him. That seek thy face, O Jacob. The LXX. have, Ζητούντων τὸ πρόσωπον τοῦ Θεοῦ Ἰακώβ, whence some suppose אלהי to have fallen out of the Hebrew text. This, no doubt, is possible, and removes all difficulty. But it is better to loose a Gordian knot than to cut it. We may keep the present text, and obtain a satisfactory sense, by regarding "Jacob" as grammatically in apposition with "generation," and translating, "This is the generation of them that seek him - that seek thy face - even Jacob." All they are not Israel who are of Israel (Romans 9:6). The true Jacob consisted of those Israelites who answered to the character described in ver. 4. Selah. A break, or pause, here occurred, while the procession of Levites advanced to the very gates of the sanctuary. Then the strain was resumed - the choir being divided into two parts, which sang antiphonally. Psalm 24:6Jahve, whose throne of grace is now set upon Zion, has not a limited dominion, like the heathen deities: His right to sovereignty embraces the earth and its fulness (Psalm 50:12; Psalm 89:12), i.e., everything that is to be found upon it and in it.

(Note: In 1 Corinthians 10:26, Paul founds on this verse (cf. Psalm 50:12) the doctrine that a Christian (apart from a charitable regard for the weak) may eat whatever is sold in the shambles, without troubling himself to enquire whether it has been offered to idols or not. A Talmudic teacher, B. Berachoth 35a, infers from this passage the duty of prayer before meat: He who eats without giving thanks is like one who lays hands upon קדשׁי שׁמים (the sacred things of God); the right to eat is only obtained by prayer.)

For He, הוא, is the owner of the world, because its Creator. He has founded it upon seas, i.e., the ocean and its streams, נהרות, ῥέεθρα (Jonah 2:4); for the waters existed before the dry land, and this has been cast up out of them at God's word, so that consequently the solid land, - which indeed also conceals in its interior a תּהום רבּה (Genesis 7:11), - rising above the surface of the sea, has the waters, as it were, for its foundation (Psalm 136:6), although it would more readily sink down into them than keep itself above them, if it were not in itself upheld by the creative power of God. Hereupon arises the question, who may ascend the mountain of Jahve, and stand above in His holy place? The futures have a potential signification: who can have courage to do it? what, therefore, must he be, whom Jahve receives into His fellowship, and with whose worship He is well-pleased? Answer: he must be one innocent in his actions and pure in mind, one who does not lift up his soul to that which is vain (לשּׁוא, according to the Masora with Waw minusculum). (ל) נשׂא נפשׁ אל, to direct one's soul, Psalm 25:1, or longing and striving, towards anything, Deuteronomy 24:15; Proverbs 19:18; Hosea 4:8. The Ker נפשׁי is old and acknowledged by the oldest authorities.

(Note: The reading נפשׁי is adopted by Saadia (in Enumoth ii., where נפשׁי is equivalent to שׁמי), Juda ha-Levi (Cuzari iii. 27), Abulwalid (Rikma p. 180), Rashi, Kimchi, the Sohar, the Codices (and among others by that of the year 1294) and most editions (among which, the Complutensis has נפשׁי in the text). Nor does Aben-Ezra, whom Norzi has misunderstood, by any means reverse the relation of the Chethb and Ker; to him נפשׁי is the Ker, and he explains it as a metaphor (an anthropomorphism): וכתוב נפשי דוך כנוי. Elias Levita is the only one who rejects the Ker נפשׁי; but he does so though misunderstanding a Masora (vid., Baer's Psalterium p. 130) and not without admitting Masoretic testimony in favour of it (וכן ראיתי ברוב נוסחאות המסורת). He is the only textual critic who rejects it. For Jacob b. Chajim is merely astonished that נפשׁו is not to be found in the Masoreth register of words written with Waw and to be read with Jod. And even Norzi does not reject this Ker, which he is obliged to admit has greatly preponderating testimony in its favour, and he would only too gladly get rid of it.)

Even the lxx Cod. Alex. translates: τὴν ψυχὴν μου; whereas Cod. Vat. (Eus., Apollin., Theodor., et al.): τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ. Critically it is just as intangible, as it is exegetically incomprehensible; נפשׁי might then be equivalent to שׁמי. Exodus 20:7, an explanation, however, which does not seem possible even from Amos 6:8; Jeremiah 51:14. We let this Kerמ alone to its undisturbed critical rights. But that the poet did actually write thus, is incredible.

In Psalm 24:5 (just as at the close of Psalm 15:1-5), in continued predicates, we are told the character of the man, who is worthy of this privilege, to whom the question in Psalm 24:3 refers. Such an one shall bear away, or acquire (נשׁא, as e.g., Esther 2:17) blessing from Jahve and righteousness from the God of his salvation (Psalm 25:5; Psalm 27:9). Righteousness, i.e., conformity to God and that which is well-pleasing to God, appears here as a gift, and in this sense it is used interchangeably with ישׁע (e.g., Psalm 132:9, Psalm 132:16). It is the righteousness of God after which the righteous, but not the self-righteous, man hungers and thirsts; that moral perfection which is the likeness of God restored to him and at the same time brought about by his own endeavours; it is the being changed, or transfigured, into the image of the Holy One Himself. With Psalm 24:5 the answer to the question of Psalm 24:3 is at an end; Psalm 24:6 adds that those thus qualified, who may accordingly expect to receive God's gifts of salvation, are the true church of Jahve, the Israel of God. דּור (lit., a revolution, Arabic dahr, root דר, to turn, revolve) is used here, as in Psalm 14:5; Psalm 73:15; Psalm 112:2, of a collective whole, whose bond of union is not contemporaneousness, but similarity of disposition; and it is an alliteration with the דּרשׁיו (Chethb דרשו, without the Jod plur.) which follows. מבקשׁי פּניך is a second genitive depending on דּור, as in Psalm 27:8. Here at the close the predication passes into the form of invocation (Thy face). And יעקב is a summarising predicate: in short, these are Jacob, not merely after the flesh, but after the spirit, and thus in truth (Isaiah 44:2, cf. Romans 9:6; Galatians 6:16). By interpolating אלהי, as is done in the lxx and Peshto, and adopted by Ewald, Olshausen, Hupfeld, and Bttcher, the nerve, as it were, of the assertion is cut through. The predicate, which has been expressed in different ways, is concentrated intelligibly enough in the one word יעקב, towards which it all along tends. And here the music becomes forte. The first part of this double Psalm dies away amidst the playing of the instruments of the Levitical priests; for the Ark was brought in בּכל־עז וּבשׁירים, as 2 Samuel 6:5 (cf. 2 Samuel 6:14) is to be read.

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