In arguably one of the most well-known psalms, David exalts the omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence of the Lord. In reading this psalm, we journey with David as he considers the influence God has on his life and the place the Lord has in his heart. Grasping that God knows all, is present everywhere, and is all-powerful is a revelation that spurns David to living a life of holiness honoring and glorifying God. Contemplating the unfathomable preeminence, presence, and power should have a similar impact on us and draw us to the altar in full-throttle worship.
But David doesn’t simply revel in the grandeur and majesty of the Lord. He pleads with God to search his heart and soul and expose any sin that might be present. This is no small ask. Would you be willing to let God examine you as deeply as David is calling on the Lord to do? What would be the point of hiding?
After the Fall, in Genesis 3, seeing that Adam and Eve have clothed themselves, God asks them “Who told you that you were naked?” The Lord quickly exposed their sin. He already knew. And guess what—He already knows us too. Yet, despite our sinfulness, He chooses to love us, providing a bridge to reconciliation to Him through His son, Jesus Christ.
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.
1 O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
3 You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
4 Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
5 You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it.
7 Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
9 If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light about me be night,
12 even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with you.
13 For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
I awake, and I am still with you.
19 Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God!
O men of blood, depart from me!
20 They speak against you with malicious intent;
your enemies take your name in vain!
21 Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord?
And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?
22 I hate them with complete hatred;
I count them my enemies.
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
24 And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!
Psalm 139 is divided into four sections. The first three portions focus on different attributes of God. The final stanza examines David’s response to God considering these attributes.
God knows our motives and our actions. In verse 4, God demonstrates His omniscience by knowing what David is going to say before he speaks. David initially feels confined upon considering the omniscience of the Lord. This is true for most of us as well. We are challenged by the knowledge that God knows all. It is both frightening and a source of awe and wonder as we contemplate the incomprehensible omniscience of God.
Feeling confined, David attempts to escape from the Lord. But, where could he go that the Lord would not find him? He could not outrun or evade God’s presence. The Lord, David realized, is everywhere. David discovers darkness is unable to conceal things from God’s sight.
From before we are born, God knows us intimately. He is deeply involved in our creation and the process of our birth and coming to life. The Lord has shaped us and woven us into being. In God’s creation, our life begins before birth. Before anyone detects our heartbeat or hears us take our first breath, we are known and valued by God. This should cause us to marvel in awe as it did David.
Ultimately, David recognized God’s goodness and knew that the Lord had David’s best interests in mind. But David found himself amid a great dilemma. His enemies sought to destroy him. He utters a very violent prayer wishing that the Lord would slay his enemies before they could do him harm. David’s enemies were not only hostile to him but to the Lord as well. David affirms his hatred for those who hate the Lord.
David concludes Psalm 139 by asking the Lord to do a thorough search of his heart and expose any sin that might be present. David trusts the Lord and is faithful to Him. He wants to please God and honor Him by how he thinks, lives, and acts.
How about you? Are you ready to commit yourself fully to God, in light of Psalm 139’s revelation? Are you prepared to resist those who stand against the Lord?
Living a life that glorifies God can be a tall order. Fortunately, we do not have to rely on our own strength and abilities because we can put our faith and trust in a God who is omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent. Amen.
The Devotional Guy™
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Lockyer, Herbert (1966). All the Books and Chapters of the Bible. Zondervan. Grand Rapids, Michigan.