Psalm 34:15-16 - The Verses Project

Bible Psalm 34:15-16

Posted July 14, 2016

[15] The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous
and his ears toward their cry.
[16] The face of the LORD is against those who do evil,
to cut off the memory of them from the earth.

When you come to God in prayer, what do you imagine His posture toward you being like? Does He love to listen or is He bothered? It seems that today, we often tend think of God one-dimensionally, stating things like, “God is love.” We then proceed to define love on our own terms, in ways our culture would agree with and we feel most comfortable with. We forget that God is infinitely more complex than we are, and we don’t get the luxury of fashioning Him into our image or defining Him; He defines Himself. In the Bible, God has revealed that He is both perfectly loving, but He is also perfectly just at the same time. He doesn’t have to nervously choose between one or the other, but rather is loving and just at the same time. In these verses, we read about two distinct postures that God takes up toward two groups of people: God’s posture is toward the righteous and against those who do evil.

His Face Toward

First off, who are the righteous? In the context of this passage, it is those who’ve come to know and fear God; those who are set apart in a covenant relationship with Him by faith, have put their trust in Him, and whose lives are increasingly being transformed by Him. What’s God’s posture toward this group of righteous men and women? God tells us that though the righteous may go through suffering and hard times, His eyes and ears are toward them (i.e. “I see you and know exactly what you’re going through… I hear your prayers and I’m going to do something in response!”). Ultimately, His message to them is that His face is always set on them, attentive and aware. What good news! Your life circumstances might scream rejection, yet God promises that even in the midst of suffering, He has not abandoned you but rather is with you and will ultimately provide rescue and deliverance (see verses 17-18).

His Face Against

Verse 16 might sound a bit harsh at first reading, yet we must acknowledge its seriousness. God’s face is actually set against those who do evil and have no regard for God, His ways, and His people. He doesn’t interact with them as He does with the righteous, His posture is markedly different; in fact, it’s opposite. Tim Keller comments, “The ultimate good is knowing God personally, and the ultimate punishment is just as personal— to lose the face of God (verse 16), the only source of joy and love, to be ‘left utterly and absolutely outside— repelled, exiled, estranged, finally and unspeakably ignored.’”

Is there any hope for evildoers to be transformed? There is great hope in Jesus! May we never forget that Jesus, the true Righteous One, laid down His life for evildoers like us and that through faith in Him God’s face is turned toward us! Think on that for a moment. Let this sink in and humble your heart: God’s face turned away from His righteous Son on the cross in order that His face might be turned toward evildoer who cries out out for salvation. To all who would call on His name, God would no longer cut off the memory of them from the earth, but rather embrace them and welcome into His family eternally. What a good and gracious God we serve!


Song by Chris Clark.
Artwork by Emily Enabnit.
Devotional by Joel Limpic.