Saving Face

Psychology Today says “The phrase to save face has been around a long time. Saving face signifies a desire — or defines a strategy — to avoid humiliation or embarrassment, to maintain dignity or preserve reputation.”

In Psalm 42, the Sons of Korah, part of the temple worship team, talk about saving face. Their strategy to avoid humiliation or embarrassment isn’t what you might think. It is found in a refrain repeated two times in Psalm 42 and again in Psalm 43:

Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. (Psalm 42:5,11; Psalm 43:5, ESV)

The Sons of Korah are in a predicament. We don’t exactly know what it is but we do know that they have cried “day and night.” They look back with fondness on how they used to “go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise, a multitude keeping festival.” (Psalm 42:4) The throng has turned into a tumult. Songs of praise have become shouts of insult. Faith has been supplanted by doubt. “Where is your God?” the people shout.

Verses 5, 11 and 43:5 represent what counselors call “self-talk.” In fact, the Sons of Korah are talking to themselves. They have been talking about the problem; they now talk to themselves.

What you say to yourself may be the most important thing you say all day.

In the middle of the taunts, surrounded by enemies and flooded by their own tears they remind themselves to hope in God. Biblical hope requires definition. It is not anxious anticipation; it is confident expectation. Some of you are hoping your marriage will work, your dream job will come through, your son will come home or your friend will come around. Don’t stop praying for that. God can answer your prayers. But don’t put your hope in them. Put your hope in God who never fails, who always comes through. Hope in the God of the outcome, not the outcome.

Biblical hope requires definition. It is not anxious anticipation; it is confident expectation.

The Sons of Korah describe God as their salvation. The word salvation in these verses literally means “the salvation of my face.” In other words, God is the one by whom they avoid humiliation or embarrassment. He maintains their dignity and preserves their reputation.

If you have trusted Christ, this is true of you too. God’s most embarrassing moment–hanging naked between two criminals on a cross, beard plucked from his face, sword thrust into his side, blood and water gushing out–is your most dignified. His blood covers your sin, makes you righteous, tears down the dividing wall between God and you and ushers you into the very throne room of God Himself.

The Apostle Paul reflects on this with his own self talk in Romans 8:

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:31-32, ESV)

What shall we say? To ourselves and to others? God is for us! And if he would give you his only Son (which He did), will he idly watch as you wade through the difficulty of divorce, the disappointment of unmet expectations, the sadness of grief, the pain of a wandering child, the unthinkable diagnosis? Not at all.

God is for you. Let that echo in your mind today as you sit in the classroom, the waiting room, the courtroom or your living room.

Hope in God. God is for you.