The original words for face, both in the Hebrew and in the Greek, show the same derivation: first, to turn towards, to face; then, the part that turns, the face or appearance; then, one’s presence; and, finally, one’s person itself. The word countenance is closely related to the idea of face, presence, and person.
The face reveals what is in the heart of a man (and of God); it shows the attitude of someone, the stance he has toward another. The face can show humility. Abram fell on his face before God when God spoke covenant promises to him (Gen. 17:3), and Joshua fell on his face before the Captain of the Lord’s hosts (Josh. 5:14). But Jesus warns us that there is a false disfiguring of the face, a wearing of a sad countenance, that God sees and detests (Matt. 6:16). The face can show resolution. When it was time for Jesus to be received up, “He stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:15). God reveals His anger and displeasure by hiding His face (Ps. 13:1), and by setting His face against a man (Ps. 34:16). Man’s face can show opposition to God’s word, for the prophet Jeremiah was told by God repeatedly not to be “afraid of their faces, for I am with thee” (Jer. 1:8).