By Ross Gilbert
Today, we’re going to walk through the verses of Psalm 139, a beautiful Psalm written by David.
In verses 1-6, David focuses on the fact that God knows everything.
v.1 O Lord, You have searched me and known me.
‘Searched me’ means to have probed or examined; to have dug deep to get below the surface. The word ‘known’ is the Hebrew word ‘yada’. It is intimate knowledge, used to describe the sexual union between Adam and Eve when she conceived. Adam “yada” Eve, and she conceived a child.
v.2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
You understand my thought from afar.
v.3 You scrutinize my path and my lying down,
And are intimately acquainted with all my ways.
The word ‘scrutinized’ doesn’t mean that He has judged or criticized you, but rather, He has taken the time to see it from your perspective, to understand why you did what you did. God understands what we’re dealing with; our thoughts, feelings, and struggles. He is intimately acquainted with us.
v.4 Even before there is a word on my tongue,
Behold, O Lord, You know it all.
v.5 You have enclosed me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.
v.6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is too high, I cannot attain to it.
God is never caught off guard. He knew our failures, the shameful things we would do, the times we’d turn our backs on Him, and knowing it all, He choose to love us. And, verse 5 describes how He has wrapped Himself around us like a hug; enclosed, fortified and protected us in His arms.
We now come to the second stanza where David celebrates the truth that God is everywhere we go.
v.7 Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
v.8 If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.
The word here for ‘presence’ means face. David is asking, “where could I go where we would not be face to face?” That speaks to me about the intimacy we have with Father. It evokes the image of lovers lying in bed, staring into each other’s eyes, or a mother nursing her baby, while looking down in love. This is how God feels towards us.
v.9 If I take the wings of the dawn,
If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,
v.10 Even there Your hand will lead me,
And Your right hand will lay hold of me.
v.11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me,
And the light around me will be night,”
v.12 Even the darkness is not dark to You,
And the night is as bright as the day.
Darkness and light are alike to You.
The dark and difficult times rob us of hope, leaving us in despair,
but even here, God is with us.
When the darkness of life descends upon us, our eyes begin to adjust and we are drawn to the only light that remains.
This brings us to the third stanza where David sings about God’s intimate knowledge of us.
v.13 For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb.
v.14 I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.
v.15 My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;
The word ‘wrought’, in verse 15, means embroidery. When something is embroidered it looks incredible on one side, but when you turn it over it’s a giant mess of thread going every which way. Can you relate to trying to appear on the surface to have it all together, while underneath there’s a giant mess of hurts, pain and disappointments? When a master embroiderer creates something, the backside is as neat and clean as the front.
v.16 Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.
Long before I walked this earth, God wrote my story; a story with great and exciting days, and some sad and fearful days. Together, these days have been strung together in order that I might know the surpassing glory, power, grace and love of my Lord and Saviour.
Finally we come to the pinnacle of the Psalm where we discover that Father knows ALL our ways.
v.17 How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
v.18 If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand.
When I awake, I am still with You.
Father’s thoughts of us outnumber all the particles of sand in all of creation, and all the universe. Simply put,
God is consumed by His love for you,
and it is this love that changes everything.
v.19 O that You would slay the wicked, O God;
Depart from me, therefore, men of bloodshed.
v.20 For they speak against You wickedly,
And Your enemies take Your name in vain.
v.21 Do I not hate those who hate You, O Lord?
And do I not loathe those who rise up against You?
v.22 I hate them with the utmost hatred;
They have become my enemies.
David fought many battles against many enemies; he was a warrior. He is saying, “God, I am on your side, I join You, and therefore Your enemies become my enemies, I will hate what You hate and I will fight alongside of You. I belong to You.”
The question that David has been trying to answer throughout this whole Psalm is, “Will I invite God to come and heal my hurts and sorrows?” Everything has been building to these final verses.
v.23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me and know my anxious thoughts;
v.24 And see if there be any hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way.
David is inviting Father to take him on a journey of healing, where he can be made whole. To illustrate, I want you to picture a little child who has fallen and hurt their arm. What do they do? They cry and scream, and run to mommy or daddy. When mommy and daddy see their child is hurt they ask to see the wound. But what does the little child do in response? They refuse - they will not expose the wound for fear that it is worse than they believe, and for fear that mommy or daddy will cause more pain in the process of cleaning it up. We do the same with our Heavenly Father. We all carry within us hurt, pain, disappointment. We come to Father, crying, and He asks us to show Him the wound so He can begin to bring healing. But we are afraid; afraid that the wound is too big, afraid of the pain that will result as He pokes around and cleans it, and afraid that it might never heal fully. It’s only in the context of Father’s perfect, immense love for us that we can risk exposure, to stop withdrawing and hiding from Him and, instead, lean into Him and invite Him to dig deep, expose our wounds, and uncover the pain, sorrow, hurt, and shame that we have been covering up and allow Him to bring healing.
This healing rarely happens alone; Father often uses others like ministers and counsellors to
bring about this deeper healing. You are not alone, and at New Life Fellowship we would love to pray and walk alongside you in your healing. While the journey is hard, and at times it feels scary and overwhelming, it is worth it.