We’re beginning a series today on Psalm 139. There is so much in this amazing passage! Today we begin with how this Psalm teaches us that God knows all about us.
I encourage you to read this Psalm and meditate on it, let it permeate your thoughts and life, as we work through it together. Let’s begin by hearing Psalm 139:1-18.
God’s knows all about David
God’s knowledge of David is a central theme in verses 1-18. We are told that God knows him several times and in several different ways. And that God searches him, sees him, discerns him and is acquainted with him.
In the first part of the Psalm, vs. 2-3 we learn that God knows David’s thoughts and ways. In his own words,
- God knows “when I sit down and when I rise up” – v. 2.
- God knows “my thoughts” or it can be translated “intentions” – v. 2.
- God knows “my path and my lying down” – v. 3, likely meaning, when I go somewhere and then come home and rest
- And God is acquainted with v. 3 – “all my ways,” that is the kind of life I lead, even in private.
And then, we learn in v. 4 that “even before a word is on my tongue, behold . . . you know it altogether,” which is not a problem since as we just saw, God knows our thoughts.
But not only this, we learn in verses 7-12 that God can see and know him wherever he might go. He asks in v. 7, “Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence?” The answer is, “Nowhere!” He gives several examples of this.
- v. 8 – “If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!” Heaven is the highest place in creation, the abode of God. Sheol is the lowest place in creation, the place of the dead. God is in both places. And if he is the extreme limits of height and depth, he is easily everywhere in between.
- Another example, v. 9-10 – “If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea . . .” that is, fly through the sky from the East to the farthest point West, “even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.” God is in the remotest places. He is both in places that are near, and those that are far, far away. And God is everywhere in between, so that he can see and know David.
- And finally, vs. 11-12 – “If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night’ even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.” God can see and know him even in the darkest place. So God can see him and know him in places that have light, and also in the darkest places, and everywhere in between.
And if this weren’t enough we learn in vs. 13-16 that God has seen and known him from his beginning to his end. v. 13 says, “You formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.” v. 16 says, “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 were none of them.” God has seen and known him, from the time that God formed him in the womb, to all the days formed for him that are written in God’s book. God sees and knows him from beginning to end.
God doesn’t just know David . . .
The prophet Jeremiah said more generally, “’Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him?’ declares the Lord. ‘Do I not fill heaven and earth?’ declares the Lord.” – Jeremiah 23:24. God sees and knows all people.
And Jesus said this about God’s knowledge of each one of us – “The hairs of your head are all numbered” – Matthew 10:30. We don’t even know this, but God knows this about each one of us.
The author of Hebrews says this, “no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account” – 4:13. So I can say with great confidence, sisters and brothers, that God doesn’t just know David through and through –
God knows you through and through
- God knows all your movements, when you sit, when you rise, when you go somewhere, when you come home and rest.
- God knows your thoughts and your intentions.
- God knows your ways, the kind of life that you choose to live in this world.
- God knows your words before you say them.
- God can see and know you anywhere you might be.
- And God has seen and known you from beginning to end.
God knows all about you! God knows all about me. God knows all about everyone who has lived. God knows all about everyone who is living. And God knows about everyone who will live. God knows all this.
Now, let me share some reflections on this insight from Psalm 139. And the first is –
1. Wow! God is amazing!
God can do this! God is truly incredible! What I am saying is that we see in these verses the greatness of God and it should lead us to praise God.
David himself says in wonder in v. 6, “Such knowledge (that is, the knowledge that God has) is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.” To do what God can do; to know what God can know is beyond any of us. We can’t even begin to understand this.
Along similar lines, David says in vs. 17-18, “How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand.” God’s thoughts, or as it can be translated “intentions or purposes,” are so many that they are beyond counting. God is beyond us – way beyond us. We simply don’t have the capacity to grasp what God can do. We serve a great God!
2. If you are doing evil, this should cause you concern
That’s because, you can’t evade God. You can’t keep God in the dark.
- He knows what you say and do
- He sees right through you – inside you – and knows your thoughts and intentions
- And he knows you from beginning to end
He knows all this about you and there is nothing you can do to stop it. There is no shield or barrier that you can hide behind. There’s no hiding from God. And that’s exactly why if you are doing evil, you should be concerned.
Finally, since God knows all about you, you can be sure that –
3. God knows your needs and can help you
Speaking of what his everyday life is like, David says to God, “You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me” – v. 5. It’s like God’s presence is in front of him and behind him and all around him and his hand is upon him. In the same way God’s presence and knowledge of us is pervasive. God is close to us and we are never off his radar. And so he is always aware of our needs and is always nearby to give us his help.
Even if you are in the most remote place, God sees and knows you. As David said, “even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me” – v. 10. Or if you simply feel far away from God, God sees and knows you. And if you look to God, he can lead you and hold you with his right hand.
Also, even if you are in the darkest place, God can see and know you and your needs. David said to God, “the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you” – v. 12. Or if you simply feel that you are in a place of darkness – perhaps it’s depression, anxiety or loneliness. God can see you and know your need while you are in your dark place. And God can help.
Finally, God “formed you” and knows you inside-out. And so God knows your weaknesses, where you struggle, where you need help and grace to make it through – vs. 15-16.
That God knows us, his children, is a source of great comfort for us, because we can be sure that God will see us and help us in all of our lives.