As for me - In strong contrast with the aims, the desires, and the condition of worldly individuals. "They" seek their portion in this life, and are satisfied; "I" cherish no such desires, and have no such prosperity. I look to another world as my home, and shall be satisfied only in the everlasting favor and friendship of God.
I will behold thy face - I shall see thee. Compare Matthew 5:8; I Corinthians 13:12; I John 3:2. This refers naturally, as the closing part of the verse more fully shows, to the future world, and is such language as would be employed by those who believe in a future state, and by no others. This is the highest object before the mind of a truly religious man. The bliss of heaven consists mainly, in his apprehension, in the privilege of seeing God his Saviour; and the hope of being permitted to do this is of infinitely more value to him than would be all the wealth of this world.
In righteousness - Being myself righteous; being delivered from the power, the pollution, the dominion of sin. It is this which makes heavyen so desirable; without this, in the apprehension of a truly good man, no place would be heaven.
I shall be satisfied - While they are satisfied with this world, I shall be satisfied only when I awake in the likeness of my God. Nothing can meet the wants of my nature; nothing can satisfy the aspirings of my soul, until that occurs.
When I awake - This is language which would be employed only by one who believed in the resurrection of the dead, and who was accustomed to speak of death as a "sleep" - a calm repose in the hope of awaking to a new life. Compare the notes at Psalms 16:9-11. Some have understood this as meaning "when I awake tomorrow;" and they thence infer that this was an evening song (compare Psalms 4:8); others have supposed that it had a more general sense - meaning "whenever I awake;" that is, while men of the world rejoice in their worldly possessions, and while this is the first thought which they have on awaking in the morning, my joy when I awake is in God; in the evidence of his favor and friendship; in the consciousness that I resemble him. I am surprised to find that Prof. Alexander favors this view. Even DeWette admits that it refers to the resurrection of the dead, and that the psalm can be interpreted only on the supposition that it has this reference, and hence, he argues that it could not have been composed by David, but that it must have been written in the time of the exile, when that doctrine had obtained currency among the Hebrews. The interpretation above suggested seems to me to be altogether too low a view to be taken of the sense of the passage.
It does not meet the state of mind described in the psalm. It does not correspond with the deep anxieties which the psalmist expressed as springing from the troubles which surrounded him. He sought repose from those troubles; he looked for consolation when surrounded by bitter and unrelenting enemies. He was oppressed and crushed with these many sorrows. Now it would do little to meet that state of mind, and to impart to him the consolation which he needed, to reflect that he could lie down in the night and awake in the morning with the consciousness that he enjoyed the friendship of God, for he had that already; and besides this, so far as this source of consolation was concerned, he would awake to a renewal of the same troubles tomorrow which he had met on the previous day. He needed some higher, some more enduring and efficient consolation; something which would meet "all" the circumstances of the case; some source of peace, composure, and rest, which was beyond all this; something which would have an existence where there was no trouble or anxiety; and this could be found only in a future world. The obvious interpretation of the passage, therefore, so far as its sense can be determined from the connection, is to refer it to the awaking in the morning of the resurrection; and there is nothing in the language itself, or in the known sentiments of the psalmist, to forbid this interpretation. The word rendered "awake" - qûts - used only in Hiphil, "means to awake;" to awake from sleep, Psalms 3:5; Psalms 139:18; or from death, II Kings 4:31; Jeremiah 51:39; Isaiah 26:19; Job 14:12; Daniel 12:2.
With thy likeness - Or, in thy likeness; that is, resembling thee. The resemblance doubtless is in the moral character, for the highest hope of a good man is that he may be, and will be, like God. Compare the notes at I John 3:2. I regard this passage, therefore, as one of the incidental proofs scattered through the Old Testament which show that the sacred writers under that dispensation believed in the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead; that their language was often based on the knowledge and the belief of that doctrine, even when they did not expressly affirm it; and that in times of trouble, and under the consciousness of sin, they sought their highest consolation, as the people of God do now, from the hope and the expectation that the righteous dead will rise again, and that in a world free from trouble, from sin, and from death, they would live forever in the presence of God, and find their supreme happiness in being made wholly like him.
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