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When did David hope to see the Lord?

Psalm 17:15

15 As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness. KJV, ©1769

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David hoped to see Yavheh When he awoke, the awakening being a reference to the resurrection of the dead, since sleep is a reference to death.1

The prophet Isaiah wrote,2

Your dead will come back to life; your corpses will rise up. Wake up and shout joyfully, you who live in the ground! For you will grow like plants drenched with the morning dew, and the earth will bring forth its dead spirits. NET, ©1996


Footnotes

1 Psa. 13:3 cf. John 11:13
2 Isa. 26:19

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Psalm 17 is prayer (v1, 4) of David for final vindication (v2). He seeks protection from God (v5-14).

The final verse has several elements that are answered elsewhere in the Bible.

  • David hopes for perfect righteousness. 1 Cor 15:50ff discusses the sort of people we will be when resurrected as does Rev 14:5.
  • David Hopes to see God face to face - this is the reward of the righteous as recorded in Rev 22:4 in the New Jerusalem. Job 19:27 expresses the same future hope.
  • David says this will occur when he awakes (ie from sleep). In the New Testament, sleep is used as a synonym for death in John 11:11, 14, Luke 7:14, 1 Thess 4:14, 16, etc. This is clearly an allusion to those who awake at the resurrection (see also Ps 13:3, Isa 26:19 which makes the same connection). See also Acts 7:60, 13:36, 1 Cor 7:39, 11:30, 15:6, 51, 2 Peter 3:4, etc.
  • Lastly, there is a difference in the way some versions translate the final phrase. The KJV & YLT and some others have "awake with your likeness" is a request for God to fulfil His promise to make us like Him 1 Cor 3:18, 1 John 3:2, etc. This obviously occurs at the resurrection of the saints.

Thus, there are numerous references here to the final resurrection of the saints when they awake from the graves. [Side note - the English "cemetery" come from the Greek "koimeterion" = a place of sleeping.]

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