Psalm 139: You Have Searched Me and Known Me
There is no higher calling than to love and worship the infinite and personal God of creation and redemption. A. W. Tozer observed that what comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us. Our image of God shapes our spiritual direction and future, and is forged in the times we spend in communion with Him. In complete contrast to the world, God's economy measures greatness not in terms of ability or accomplishments, but in the vitality and integrity of a person's walk with the Lord. King David was a gifted man who was rich in achievements, yet the key to his greatness did not lay in these, but in his choice to give his heart wholly to God. In the midst of the struggles he faced, he took time to meditate and stretch his vision of the living God, and this provided him with a renewed perspective about the things that really matter.
If we unthinkingly take life for granted and lose our sense of wonder at God and His creation, our capacity to worship will atrophy. David's ongoing amazement and wonder is captured in Psalm 139, a beautiful meditation on the knowledge, presence, power, and holiness of the Ruler of all creation.
"O Lord, Thou hast searched me and known me." As he reflects on the omniscience of God, David is overwhelmed by the truth that God has thoroughly exposed him and intimately knows him. The same is true of us: God has "mined" us to the depths of our being, and His knowledge besieges us all around ("Thou hast enclosed me behind and before, and laid Thy hand upon me"). He knows our actions, our words, our thoughts, and our motives. Such knowledge is overwhelming, not only because it is beyond our comprehension, but also because it exposes all our pretences. Yet it is comforting to know that there no need of pretence before God; He knows us through and through, including our darkest thoughts and deeds, and still loves us unconditionally.
"Where can I go from Thy Spirit? Or where can I flee from Thy presence?" Not only does God know us, but He is with us all the time; He "sees the invisible and penetrates the inaccessible" (Derek Kidner). There is no escape, nowhere to hide--height or depth, day or night, past or future--nothing can conceal us from the "Hound of Heaven." This can be a very disturbing thought, especially in times of disobedience and rebellion; the impulse to hide from God's presence dates back to the first sin (Gen. 3:8). But this truth can also be a source of great comfort and assurance, because we know that as believers in Christ, we are never alone. He gave us His promise that He is with us always (Matt. 28:20), and we can find our security in His enfolding presence.
"I will give thanks to Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Thy works, and my soul knows it very well." The third stanza of this psalm portrays the omnipotence of the Creator by a poetical description of the wonder of human birth. What artist would create his magnum opus in total darkness? Yet God wove us together with all our variegated colors in the hiddenness of the womb ("the depths of the earth"). He formed us in all our complexity to be a unity of body, soul, and spirit with all our capacities for thought, communication, morality, and aspiration. His eyes saw our embryos and He appointed all the days that were ordained for us on this planet. The all-powerful Lord of creation is worthy of all worship and trust, since nothing is too difficult for Him (Jer. 32:17; Luke 1:37).
As David leaves his meditation, the reality of his plight with his opponents ("men of bloodshed") confronts him once again. He responds by aligning himself with the God of holiness and justice and declares that God's enemies are his enemies, and God's cause is his cause. In the last two verses he takes us full cycle ("O Lord, Thou hast searched me and known me"): "Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way." As he faces opposition, the psalmist wants to remove any doubt about his walk with God. Does He really know my situation? Does He care? Am I really committed to His purposes? The answer is a resounding yes--He knows us intimately and is present with us in any adversity we face. The Lord also knows what is in our hearts, and we would be wise to follow David's practice of inviting Him to illuminate areas of disobedience and rebellion in our lives so that He can lead us in the everlasting way.
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