Today we are once again privileged and called to worship our Triune God in Jesus Christ and by His Spirit. As we prepare to do so, our psalm for consideration this Lord’s Day is Psalm 139.
Also this psalm is familiar to and precious to God’s people, as the psalmist David describes from his personal perspective and experience the wonder of God’s omniscience (all-knowing-ness) and omnipresence (everywhere-present-ness). Let’s read and meditate on this wonder through the words of its verses. As you do so, think about how God has searched and known you and how He has displayed His presence with you at all times and in all places throughout your life.
O Lord, thou hast searched me, and known me.
2 Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off.
3 Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.
4 For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether.
5 Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.
7 Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?
8 If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thouart there.
9 If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;
10 Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me.
12 Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.
13 For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb.
14 I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.
15 My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
16 Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there wasnone of them.
17 How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!
18 If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.
19 Surely thou wilt slay the wicked, O God: depart from me therefore, ye bloody men.
20 For they speak against thee wickedly, and thine enemies take thy name in vain.
21 Do not I hate them, O Lord, that hate thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee?
22 I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies.
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:
24 And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
When we first read about the reality of God’s omniscience and omnipresence with regard to us in this psalm, we can be frightened out of our minds. God searches and knows everything about me?! my every act?! (vss.2-3) my every thought (v.2)?! my every word (v.4)?! That means the sovereign Lord also sees all my sinful acts, thoughts, desires, and words! How terrifying!
The omnipresent Lord of heaven and earth is with me and goes with me wherever I go (v.7)?! up in heaven?! down to the grave (v.8)?! across the sea (vss.9-10)?! in the darkness of night (vss.11-12)?! when I awake (v.18)?! Where can I go that He is not?! No where. Where can I hide? I cannot. He is everywhere. With me. With His all-seeing eye.
David knew this to be true and we know it too , because God is the Lord of our conception and birth (vss.13-16). He knew us and was with us in our mother’s womb. He had us all thought out in His perfect plan and formed us exactly so. My feet, my hands, my face, my mind, my heart. O, He knows me! and is with me! Not one speck of me, nor of my time here on earth is without His knowledge and presence!
Again, how terrifying for us as sinners, for this means God also goes with me when I go into sin. He is with me in the dark recesses of my depraved heart and in the dark paths that I sometimes walk in, whether in the quiet of my home or in the depraved places of this wicked world. When I weigh these things, I am so ashamed and so afraid!
And apart from Christ, we ought to be terrified!
But David didn’t write this apart from his Savior, and we don’t read it apart from Him. David in fact wrote Psalm 139 as a type of Christ and penned it under the inspiration of the Spirit of Christ. We may even say that these are Christ’s words before they are David’s words. Jesus our Mediator lived His entire life – from womb to tomb! – under the omniscience and omnipresence of God. He did so as our perfect Savior, bearing all our sins, all our shame, and all the terrifying judgment we deserve. And He took those terrible sins to the cross, where He paid for each and every one, so that we can now live our lives under and with the all-searching, all-knowing, everywhere-present God without terror, in peace of conscience, calmness of heart, and rest of soul.
Terrified by God’s omniscience and omnipresence? No! In Christ we stand in awe of Him and count these wonders precious (v.17)! My Lord searches and knows me and everything about me! My Lord is with me at all times and in all places! What an overwhelming blessing! I cannot measure the sum of these things, but when I awake in the morning, I am still with my God (vss.17-18)! Do you also count it so, fellow believer?
And because this is so, we can even pray for God to search us, as David did (v.23). I would never dare to ask this of this fearful God did not my Savior pray this with me on His heart. But standing by faith in Christ crucified – for me! – I am bold to ask the all-knowing God to look into my heart (not just my outward life, but my spiritual core!) and to try me (put me to the test according to His holy and righteous standard!).
But what about all the wicked ways He will find there? My all-sufficient and everywhere present Savior is there too. In Him I am forgiven and justified! In Him I am free of sin and perfectly holy! In Him I am delivered from hell and heaven-bound! Yes, He is leading me in the way everlasting! Lead on, O King eternal!
Is this not reason to worship this day?! Let us say and sing it with David: “I will praise thee” (v.14).
If you desire to meditate on Psalm 139 through music, I encourage you to listen to some versifications of this psalm at the PRC Psalter page. Here is one such versification to get you started (Visit the link to hear piano accompaniment and sing along.):
1. All that I am I owe to Thee,
Thy wisdom, Lord, hath fashioned me;
I give my Maker thankful praise,
Whose wondrous works my soul amaze.
2. Ere into being I was brought,
Thy eye did see, and in Thy thought
My life in all its perfect plan
Was ordered ere my days began.
3. Thy thoughts, O God, how manifold,
More precious unto me than gold!
I muse on their infinity,
Awaking I am still with Thee.
4. The wicked Thou wilt surely slay,
From me let sinners turn away;
They speak against the Name divine,
I count God’s enemies as mine.
5. Search me, O God, my heart discern,
Try me, my inmost thought to learn;
And lead me, if in sin I stray,
To choose the everlasting way.