A Meditation on Psalm 89

Kevin J Youngblood

Blessed are the people who know the festal shout,

who walk, O Lord, in the light of your face,

16 who exult in your name all the day

and in your righteousness are exalted.

(Psalm 89:15-16)

I never cease to be amazed at what a profound impact the priestly blessing of Numbers 6:24-26 had on the Psalter. Dozens of these prayers and hymns allude to this benediction as they unpack its significance for Israel’s every-day life. Obviously, for the psalmists, this benediction was no mere liturgy, no mere formality. They took it very seriously and thought deeply about its implications. The psalms that allude to Numbers 6:24-26, therefore, may be thought of as a kind of commentary on this priestly blessing.
In the case of Psalm 89:15, the light of YHWH’s face is understood to illumine the path down which his people should travel. YHWH faces a certain direction and when he does, the glory of his face emanates rays of light pointing the way his people should go. Only those familiar with God’s face, however, will recognize its light. Only those who have spent extended periods of time gazing into that face, communing with God as Moses and Jesus do “face to face” will notice the direction of the divine gaze and turn to see at what YHWH is staring. In this light, they then walk with confidence of their direction and destination.


To be sure there may be stretches of road that seem uncertain. We may wonder whether we’ve strayed. This world, after all, is flooded with all kinds of lights shining in all directions: spotlights, lime lights, neon signs with glowing arrows pointing in all directions, streetlights beckoning travelers down dead end roads and into cul-de-sacs of sin and selfishness. Nevertheless, through it all shines the light brighter than them all for those who have eyes to see it, and in those moments of doubt, in those moments when we, like our Lord in Gethsemane, wonder whether this could really be the right path, all we need do is turn around and see the Father’s reassuring face looking back at us in the direction we’ve been traveling. The light of his face lifts our spirits as well as our leaden feet and bids us continue even when the road grows steep, difficult, hazardous, or obscured by the smog of this world’s pollution.



How beautiful is the light of your face! How blessed we are to be able to see it through the eyes of our Lord Jesus to whom we are united by faith and by the mysterious pericoresis of the Holy Spirit that has somehow looped us into the eternal triune communion. Thank you for illuminating the path we should walk by fixing your eyes on the destination you’ve appointed for us. As we study your face, we see the direction of your godly gaze and we turn and we fix our eyes on that which has captured your attention. A clear, pure stream of light bids us walk. The words “This is the way. Walk in it.” is written all over your face (Isa 30:21). Jesus, you never strayed from the path illumined by your Father’s face so fixed was your vision on his vision. That is no doubt why you are now the direction and destination to which the Father ever fixes his gaze. Therefore, it is on you that we fix our gaze (Heb 12:2). Thank you for modeling for us the discipline of walking in the light of your Father’s face. Holy Spirit, Divine Guide who remains here with us, ever at our side to assist us in our journey, keep on the path illumined by the Father’s face. Nudge us on when we lag, lift us when we stumble, redirect us when we stray, turn our heads when our gaze begins to drift into the stream of lesser lights pointing to far lesser glory than that which awaits us at the end of this often painful path.