Seven Divine Looks
Arthur Pink, 1950
Much is said in Scripture about the eyes of the LORD and His looking upon one and another: much that is solemn and searching; much that is encouraging and comforting. What a contrast is there between "I will set my eyes upon them for evil, and not for good" (Amos 9:4) and "For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong in the behalf of those who heart is perfect [upright, which beats true] toward him" (2 Chronicles 16:9). That is the difference between God's avenging eye (1 Chronicles 12:17; 2 Chronicles 24:22) and His gracious eye.
"For the ways of man are before the eyes of the LORD, and he ponders all his goings" (Pro 5:21): what a restraining influence should our apprehension of that fact exert upon us! On the other hand, assured of the mercy and compassion of the LORD, believers will often desire that He should look upon them, knowing that their very needs and unexpressed longings will plead for them (2 Samuel 16:12), and give him or her cause to say, "For he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden!" (Luke 1:48).
1. The look of COVENANT FAITHFULNESS. "And the rainbow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature that is upon the earth" (Gen 9:16). There is no doubt whatever in our mind that the rainbow appeared then in the lower heavens for the first time: had it existed previously, it would have possessed no new meaning and message after the flood — compare Genesis 2:6. It was given as an assurance to allay men's fears, as a divine pledge that the world would never again be destroyed by a universal deluge. It was a ratification of the promise which God had given for the temporal preservation of His creatures. God calls it "MY rainbow," which He sets in the cloud (Gen 9:13), and upon it, He looks in remembrance of His oath (Isa 54:9) — as we also should. "How blessed to know that the cloud that comes across our sky is one of His bringing; and if so, how sure that, in some way, He will reveal His glory in it" — Frederick W. Grant (1834-1902). Still more blessed is it to know that the canopy of God's Throne in Heaven is a rainbow (Rev 4:3) — a token and pledge that He is ruling this world according to his covenant engagements.
2. The look of GRACE. "And God looked upon the children of Israel" (Exo 2:25). This, too, was analogous with the former, for as the content informs us, they "cried by reason of their bondage. And God heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob." And well for them that He did so. They had sinned grievously while in Egypt (Jos 24:14; Ezekiel 20:7-8), and were sorely chastised for the same. But now, notwithstanding their provoking transgressions, as their groanings came into His ears — the LORD remembered His covenant and looked upon them. Moses had beheld them with pity, but he was powerless to effect their release. But as JEHOVAH saw their abject condition and hard service, He had a favorable regard to them (Exo 3:7-8). His eyes were now fixed upon them to show Himself strong in their behalf and deliver them. It is a typical picture of God contemplating the wretchedness of His elect by nature, when He saves them from their sins: His everlasting covenant of grace is the sure foundation of mercy, and the ground of all His dealings with His people, He is blessed to find that when Israel learned that the LORD "had looked upon their affliction," then they bowed their heads and worshiped (Exo 4:31). Let each Christian reader do likewise.
3. The look of ENCOURAGEMENT. "And the LORD looked [literally 'turned His face'] upon him, and said, Go in this your might, and you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent you?" (Judges 6:14). Such language as that from God to a worm of the earth is startling, for what "might" had poor Gideon? None — and what is more, he was conscious of this fact. Therein is revealed to us an invaluable secret: "Before honor is humility" (Pro 15:33). Gideon confessed his weakness: "With what shall I save Israel? behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house" (Judges 6:15). True, but set over against that the Almighty's "Surely I will be with you" (verse 16).
Ah, my reader, the face of the LORD is always turned unto those who acknowledge their poverty and powerlessness. It is the empty vessel which He fills, the one owning himself to be "the least" who He commissions and uses (see Isa 6:5-8; Eph 3:8)! That look of the LORD was designed to dispel Gideon's fears, to revive his drooping spirits and send him forth in the strength of JEHOVAH. God used Gideon to effect a mighty deliverance for Israel.
4. The look of REVELATION and DISCOVERY. "My beloved is like a roe or a young deer: behold, he stands behind our wall, he looks forth at the windows, showing himself " (Song 2:9). Taken in conjunction with the foregoing verse, we have here a blessed figure of Christ desiring fellowship with "his own" and the increasingly clear discoveries — which He graciously makes of Himself, both to the local church collectively and to the saint individually — He is likened to a "roe" because of His pleasantness and lovingness (Pro 5:19), He being most winsome to His people, and gentle in His carriage towards them. In the spiritual visits with which Christ favors His people, He is pleased to make clearer and fuller manifestations of Himself to them. First, He appears as it were "behind our wall" — for we are ever the ones who interpose barriers! — near, but not yet visible. Then, "he looks forth at the windows" — a sight, though not yet a full one, being obtained of Him through the ordinances. Finally, He shows "himself through the lattice" of our longings, and we enjoy His manifested presence, and He sups with us, and we with Him (Rev 3:20).
5. The look of APPROBATION. "But to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembles at my word" (Isa 66:2). Pride God abominates, but humility and submission, He appreciates. Poverty of spirit consists of a realization that I have nothing, am nothing, and can do nothing, but have need of all things. It is the Spirit's emptying the heart of self — that Christ may fill it. Contrition is a feeling sense of the heinousness and loathsomeness of sin, causing one to mourn over it with godly sorrow. It is the Spirit's discovering to us the plague of our hearts, making sin to be bitter and hateful to us, our sorest grief and heaviest burden.
To tremble at God's Word is to be sensible of its searching purity, to be awed by its authority, to be conscious of its requirements, to hold its Author in the utmost reverence. Each soul possessing these qualities is an object of delight to the Holy One. He views them not only with favor, but with pleasure: it is God delighting in His own handiwork, setting His seal of approval thereon.
6. The look of WELCOME. "But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him" (Luke 15:20). The context gives us a picture of what an elect soul is by nature and practice: a wanderer from God, a dissipater of His mercies, a forlorn creature finding nothing in this world which can meet his spiritual and eternal needs. At length convicted of his wretchedness and sinfulness, his heart and feet turn unto the LORD.
The verse now before us reveals the attitude of God unto such a one and the reception awaiting the repentant and seeking sinner. The father is viewed as on the lookout, ready to welcome the returning prodigal. Love's eyes are keen, and he sees him while he is yet "a great way off" — which tells of the awful distance that sin removes the soul from God. It was love's anticipation and readiness to receive the erring one. He "saw him" with the eyes of favor, yes, eagerness. What a word is this for any repenting and seeking reader — a hearty welcome is assured such if he comes unto God by Christ.
7. The look of RECOVERY. "And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter" (Luke 22:61). Surely this is one of the most remarkable, blessed, and affecting statements recorded in Holy Writ! Note, first, this is said not simply of "Jesus," but of "the Lord": to emphasize the fact that He acted here with divine understanding, authority, and mercy. Second, that He "turned." It was in the high priest's house, and the Savior had been facing the motley gang who had apprehended Him in the Garden. One of "his own" had been overtaken in a grievous fault, but He did not contemptuously ignore him, but turned His face toward him! He did not call to him, lest He should endanger His sheep! He "looked upon Peter" — not scowled or frowned! He looked with a sad, yet compassionate expression. It was a look of conviction, for Peter at once remembered His warning word. It was a look of power, for it brought repentance. It was a look of love, for it melted Peter's heart. Christ was about to die and put away Peter's sins, and here He gave him a pledge of it by turning toward and "looking upon" him! May He so look today upon backsliders.