Seek: baqash. Seeking to find or take something (Strong’s 1245).
Search: darash. Searching, investigating, inquiring, requiring (Strong’s 1875).
Sounds like: ba’qawsh/va’qawsh & dah’rawsh
There are two main Hebrew words for seeking or searching and they often are found in the same verse. Baqash/Vaqash is to seek, but it is seeking to find and take hold of something:
Psalm 70:2, 4 (See also Psalm 40:13-17)
Let those be ashamed and humiliated who seek [to take] my life (soul) [m-vaq’sheh naf’shi]; let those be turned back and dishonoured who delight in my hurt…
…Let all who seek [to take hold of] You [m-vaq’sheka] rejoice and be glad in You; and let those who love Your salvation say continually, “Let God be magnified.”
Darash is searching, but more in the way of investigating or inquiring about something:
I sought [inquired of: darash’ti] YHWH, and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears.
It’s a fine and subtle line of difference, but these two Hebrew words (seeking/searching/investigating) show up about 389 times in the Biblical text. That’s a prolific footprint in the Scriptures.
We are called to seek out God and investigate the Word that has been given to us… not to just rely on a Sabbath or Sunday message, but to take matters into our own hands… to seek all that God has laid out before us. God gave us a brain, and He wants us to use it.
Psalm 119 incorporated both darash and baqash. It began by showing how the Psalmist had investigated God and his precepts repeatedly, and then ended by asking God to seek/look for him, because he felt lost, although he had never forgotten God’s commandments:
Psalm 119:2, 10, 45, 94, 155, 176 (aleph, bet, vav, lamed, resh, tav)
How blessed are those who observe His testimonies, who seek Him [investigate Him: yid’r’shuhu] with all their heart…
…With all my heart I have sought You [I have investigated You: d’rash’tika]; do not let me wander from Your commandments…
…And I will walk at liberty, for I seek [I investigate: darash’ti] Your precepts…
…I am Yours, save me; for I have sought [I have investigated: darash’ti] Your precepts…
…Salvation is far from the wicked, for they do not seek [they do not investigate: lo darashu] Your statutes…
…I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek Your servant [look for Your servant: baqesh av’deka], for I do not forget Your commandments.
YHWH has opened Himself up to humanity. He wants us to seek Him out. We have the privilege of seeking, in order to grab hold of God, and having a relationship with our Creator. It is a great gift and an honour… but most of humanity has disregarded YHWH and has not searched for Him:
Isaiah 65:1-3, 5a
YHWH: “I permitted Myself to be sought [investigated: nid’rash’ti] by those who did not ask for Me; I permitted Myself to be found by those who did not seek [l-lo viq’shuni] Me. I said, ‘Here am I, here am I,’ to a nation which did not call on My name. I have spread out My hands all day long to a rebellious people, who walk in the way which is not good, following their own thoughts, a people who continually provoke Me to My face offering sacrifices in gardens and burning incense on bricks… who say, ‘Keep to yourself, do not come near me, for I am holier than you!’”
YHWH looked for someone, anyone, who was searching/investigating after Him, but He couldn’t find anyone. And because they didn’t look for Him, they found no evidence of Him:
Psalm 14:1-3 (See also Psalm 53:1-3 and Ezekiel 22:29-30)
The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they have committed abominable deeds; there is no one who does good. YHWH has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, who seek [investigate: doresh] after God. They have all turned aside. Together they have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.
YHWH seeks us out!
YHWH looked down from heaven to see if there were any who understood. He found no on at the time… but the point is… He was looking! He continually searches the hearts of humanity. He is seeking, watching, and listening.
YHWH sought David out, found him, and put him on the throne (1 Samuel 13:13-14), and David passed on what he knew to his son Solomon:
1 Chronicles 28:9
“As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind; for YHWH searches [investigates: doresh] all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts. If you seek [tid’r’shenu] Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever.”
What was the point that David was trying to make for his son?… Seek God. Do not forsake Him. If you seek Him, you will find Him. If you don’t search for Him, don’t expect Him to look for you. Later, the prophet Azariah wanted Asa, king of Judah, to hear the same thing:
2 Chronicles 15:2-4, 14-15
And he [Azariah] went out to meet Asa and said to him, “Listen to me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin: YHWH is with you when you are with Him. And if you seek [tid’r’shenu] Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you. For many days Israel was without the true God and without a teaching priest and without law. But in their distress they turned to YHWH God of Israel, and they sought [way-vaq’shuhu] Him, and He let them find Him…”
…Moreover, they made an oath to YHWH with a loud voice, with shouting, with trumpets and with horns. All Judah rejoiced concerning the oath, for they had sworn with their whole heart and had sought [biq’shuhu] Him earnestly, and He let them find Him. So YHWH gave them rest on every side.
Seeking the gifts of YHWH
Followers of God are called to seek many things:
- Seek Justice (Isaiah 1:16-18)
- Seek Wisdom (Proverbs 2:2-8)
- Seek Knowledge (Proverbs 15:14 & Proverbs 18:15)
- Seek Understanding (Proverbs 28:5)
- Seek Righteousness (Zephaniah 2:3)
- Seek Humility (Zephaniah 2:3)
- Seek Peace (Psalm 34:14)
These are all wonderful virtues to seek for, and many people, outside of any Judeo-Christian faith, try to find these things independently. Searching for understanding without searching for YHWH first, is like trying to make an omelet without an egg. But if you seek YHWH first, then He will plant the seeds in you so you can reap the rewards of wisdom, and knowledge, and understanding, and righteousness. It is a naturally progression that starts with seeking YHWH:
Sow with a view to righteousness, reap in accordance with kindness; break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek [lid’rowosh] YHWH until He comes to rain righteousness on you.
The Danger of Seeking Things
However, the Bible reminds us, over and over, that people were not seeking YHWH… they were seeking great things for themselves. They wanted possessions, and when they didn’t get those “great things” they blamed God:
YHWH: “You said, ‘Ah, woe is me! For YHWH has added sorrow to my pain; I am weary with my groaning and have found no rest.’ Thus you [Jeremiah] are to say to him, “Thus says YHWH, ‘Behold, what I have built I am about to tear down, and what I have planted I am about to uproot, that is, the whole land. But you, are you seeking [t-vaqesh] great things for yourself? Do not seek them [al t-vaqesh]; for behold, I am going to bring disaster on all flesh,’ declares YHWH, ‘but I will give your life to you as booty in all the places where you may go.’”
God wants to plant those seeds within us: wisdom, and righteousness, and understanding, and humility, but He will uproot those who seek only for wealth, and vengeance, and power.
In one of David’s Psalms (Psalm 37) he reflected that the wicked would be “cut off”; they would be no more. All the searching in the world would not bring them back.
The wicked spies upon the righteous and seeks [um-vaqesh] to kill him. YHWH will not leave him in his hand or let him be condemned when he is judged. Wait for YHWH and keep His way, and He will exalt you to inherit the land; when the wicked are cut off, you will see it.
I have seen a wicked, violent man spreading himself like a luxuriant tree in its native soil. Then he passed away, and lo, he was no more; I sought [w-a-vaq’shehu] for him, but he could not be found.
Mark the blameless man, and behold the upright; for the man of peace will have a posterity [a good end]. But transgressors will be altogether destroyed; The posterity [the end] of the wicked will be cut off.
The wicked sought to kill the righteous, and as a result their lives would be snuffed out. When people searched for them, they would never be found again. Their posterity (or their end) would be cut short. They would not “inherit the land” and they would not get to see the final outcome of YHWH’s plan.
YHWH: “I will bring terrors on you and you will be no more; though you will be sought [ut-vuq’shi], you will never be found again,” declares the Lord YHWH.
Seek YHWH, so that we may LIVE!
But those who searched for YHWH would inherit the land. They would find their way back into the Kingdom:
Amos 5:4, 14-15a
For thus says YHWH to the house of Israel, “Seek Me [dir’shuni] that you may live”… …Seek good and not evil [dir’shu tov w-al ra], that you may live; and thus may YHWH God of hosts be with you, just as you have said! Hate evil, love good, and establish justice in the gate!
To truly live we need to turn out eyes towards God. And we need to dive in and truly seek Him out.
And those who know Your Name will put their trust in You, for You, O YHWH, have not forsaken those who seek You [dor’sheka].
Seeking God’s name, was seeking God Himself. God said that His name was I AM. In Hebrew that was EHYH [Ehyeh]… but it would be strange for Moses to go back to the people and say “I Am has sent me to you”. So God instructed Moses to say to the people “He IS” [YWHW] has sent me to you… And His name, YHWH would be the name He would be remembered for, throughout history:
Then Moses said to God, “Behold, I am going to the sons of Israel, and I will say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you.’ Now they may say to me, ‘What is His name?’ What shall I say to them?”
God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM” [EHYH asher EHYH]; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM [Ehyeh] has sent me to you.’” God, furthermore, said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘YHWH [“HE IS”], the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is My name forever, and this is My memorial-name to all generations”.
Seeking God’s name was a common refrain in the Psalms. In Asaph’s final Psalm, he hoped that his enemies would experience adversity so they would be driven to seek God’s name:
So pursue them with Your tempest and terrify them with Your storm. Fill their faces with dishonour, that they may seek Your name, O YHWH [wi-vaq’shu shim’ka YHWH]. Let them be ashamed and dismayed forever, and let them be humiliated and perish, that they may know that You alone, whose name is YHWH, are the Most High over all the earth.
Calling on the name of YHWH and seeking Him would, ultimately, give the seeker pleasure. Only good can come from seeking God:
Oh give thanks to YHWH, call upon His name; make known His deeds among the peoples. Sing to Him, sing praises to Him; speak of all His wonders. Glory in His holy name; let the heart of those who seek YHWH [m-vaq’sheh YHWH] be glad.
Seek [investigate: dir’shu] YHWH and His strength; seek His face continually [baq’shu panaw tamid].
Throughout the Tanakh, people could not look directly at YHWH without the very great possibility that they would die at first sight. Strange, then, that many of the Biblical writers encouraged people to seek YHWH’s face:
1 Chronicles 16:10b-11, 15
Let the heart of those who seek [m-vaq’sheh] YHWH be glad. Seek [dir’shu] YHWH and His strength; seek [baq’shu] His face continually… Remember His covenant forever, the word which He commanded to a thousand generations.
In another one of David’s Psalms, he emphasized the importance of seeking God’s face:
Psalm 27:4, 7-9
One thing I have asked from YHWH, that I shall seek [ah-vaqesh]: that I may dwell in the house of YHWH all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of YHWH and to meditate in His temple….
…Hear, O YHWH, when I cry with my voice, and be gracious to me and answer me. When You said, “Seek My face,” [baq’shu panai] my heart said to You, “Your face, O YHWH, I shall seek. [et paneka YHWH ah-vaqesh]” Do not hide Your face from me, do not turn Your servant away in anger; You have been my help; do not abandon me nor forsake me, O God of my salvation!
The great hope, when our heart ceases to beat, is that we can come back to the Garden and see God, face to face and dwell in His House… without the fear of dying in His presence. We are seeking entrance to the Kingdom… back to the Garden that Eve and Adam had to leave, because they cursed themselves. God didn’t want them to go, and so He put a plan in motion to bring humanity back into the Garden, where we can look upon His face and be in His presence.
God promised that if we actively sought God, we would find him. But those who turned their back on Him, would not. If they didn’t seek to enter the Kingdom, they would not find it.
“But from there you will seek [u-viqash’tem] YHWH your God, and you will find Him if you search for [investigate: tid’rash’enu] Him with all your heart and all your soul. When you are in distress and all these things have come upon you, in the latter days you will return to YHWH your God and listen to His voice. For YHWH your God is a compassionate God; He will not fail you nor destroy you nor forget the covenant with your fathers which He swore to them.”
Searching for the Lost Sheep
We are full of good intentions, but sometimes we just get lost in the jumbled mess of our lives. Sometimes we are led astray by those we put our trust in, be it family members, or our doctors, or our bankers, or our religious advisors. In Jeremiah’s day, it was the priests that led many Jewish people down the thorny path:
For the shepherds have become stupid and have not sought [lo darashu] YHWH; therefore they have not prospered, and all their flock is scattered.
Ezekiel dived deeply into this theme of humans as lost sheep under a shepherd:
Ezekiel 34:2b-6, 11-12, 16
YHWH: “Woe, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flock? You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat sheep without feeding the flock. Those who are sickly you have not strengthened, the diseased you have not healed, the broken you have not bound up, the scattered you have not brought back, nor have you sought [viqash’tem] for the lost; but with force and with severity you have dominated them. They were scattered for lack of a shepherd, and they became food for every beast of the field and were scattered. My flock wandered through all the mountains and on every high hill; My flock was scattered over all the surface of the earth, and there was no one to search [doresh] or seek [m-vaq’esh] for them.”’”…
…for thus says the Lord YHWH, “Behold, I Myself will search [w-darash’ti] for My sheep and seek [u-viqar’tim] them out. As a shepherd cares for his herd in the day when he is among his scattered sheep, so I will care for My sheep and will deliver them from all the places to which they were scattered on a cloudy and gloomy day…
…I will seek [ah-vaqesh] the lost, bring back the scattered, bind up the broken and strengthen the sick; but the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them with judgment.”
We are very much like lost sheep wandering around in the desert, just waiting to be led back into the Garden. The Messiah would be the one to lead us, back to the Kingdom where we belong. Yeshua (Jesus) boldly claimed that He had come to seek and save the lost:
When Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, “Zaccheus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” And he hurried and came down and received Him gladly. When they saw it, they all began to grumble, saying, “He has gone to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” Zaccheus stopped and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
Seeking in prophecy
The phrase “in those days” was used to point to the future. Seeking played an important role in prophecy. Jeremiah said that “In those days and at that time,” Israel would seek God and ask to return to Zion so they could join themselves to YHWH in an eternal, and unforgettable, covanant (Jeremiah 50:4-5). But even more remarkable, was that any sins carried by God’s people would not be found:
…‘In those days and at that time,’ declares YHWH, ‘search [y-vuqash] will be made for the iniquity of Israel, but there will be none; and for the sins of Judah, but they will not be found; for I will pardon those whom I leave as a remnant.’
There would be a future day when the iniquity of Judah would be unfound. All the searching in the world would not result in finding any sin amongst YHWH’s people. God would pardon them for all wrong they had done.
Through Malachi YHWH spoke of His Angel/His Messenger: this Angel of YHWH would be the one to fulfill the Covenant.
YHWH: “Behold, I am going to send My Messenger [My Angel: mal’aki], and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek [m-vaq’shim], will suddenly come to His temple; and the Messenger of the Covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming,” says YHWH of hosts.
What was this Covenant that the Angel of YHWH would fulfill?
“But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares YHWH, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. They will not teach again, each man his neighbour and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know YHWH,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares YHWH, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”
This Messenger of YHWH appears to be like the YHWH’s Anointed One: the Messiah. The One who would come, fulfill the Covenant and clear the debt.
Zechariah spoke prophetically that “in those days” people of many nations, not just Israel, would seek YHWH in Jerusalem… they would grab hold of the Jewish people because they had come to know that God’s heart was with the Jewish people:
Thus says YHWH of hosts, “It will yet be that peoples will come, even the inhabitants of many cities. The inhabitants of one will go to another, saying, ‘Let us go at once to entreat the favour of YHWH, and to seek YHWH of hosts [ul-vaqesh et YHWH ts’baowt]; I will also go.’
So many peoples and mighty nations will come to seek YHWH of hosts [l-vaqesh et YHWH ts’baowt] in Jerusalem and to entreat the favour of YHWH. Thus says YHWH of hosts, “In those days ten men from all the nations will grasp the garment of a Jew, saying, ‘Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.”
Seek His Kingdom
Through the Jewish people God put His plan in motion to save all of humanity. Through Abraham’s line a Messiah would come as a rescuer… and all nations would be redeemed and be welcomed into God’s Kingdom:
The afflicted will eat and be satisfied; those who seek [dor’shaw] Him will praise YHWH. Let your heart live forever! All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to YHWH, and all the families of the nations will worship before You. For the kingdom is YHWH’s and He rules over the nations.
God wanted ALL of humanity to seek entrance into His Kingdom. Just as YHWH sought David out (1 Samuel 13:13-14), to put him on the throne, He seeks us out to give us the Kingdom:
Luke 12:29-32 (See also Matthew 6:31-34)
“And do not seek what you will eat and what you will drink, and do not keep worrying. For all these things the nations of the world eagerly seek; but your Father knows that you need these things. But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you. Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.”
Yeshua the Messiah was turning point. He was the key to the kingdom. His death paid our entrance fee back into the Garden, where we could stand up and face YHWH! But we have to want it! We have to seek it out!
Luke 11:9-10 (See also Matthew 7:7-8)
“So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened.”
Everything will be open… the Kingdom of YHWH is open to us, but we have to seek it. We can’t just sit back and say, “I’ll want it when I get there”. You have to want it now. Seek YHWH and search for Him with all your heart:
“For I know the plans that I have for you,” declares YHWH, “plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me [u-viqash’tem] and find Me when you search for Me [investigate Me: tid’r’shuni] with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares YHWH…
Next week: Unsearchable