Psalm 139:1-6, 13-16
1. What does it mean to have God search you (1)?
This verse says that God searches and knows. The word know is the same Hebrew word used for sexual intercourse – a very intimate knowledge of another person. So when God searches, it is intimate. Nothing escapes his notice. He not only sees but understands why I am the way I am. He knows why I think the way I think, whether correctly or not. He knows my desires, joys, regrets, every secret thing about me. He knows what makes me tick. David explained it to Solomon, “The Lord searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will cast you off forever” (1 Chron 28:9.) Hebrews 4:13 and Revelation 2:23 echo this in the New Testament. The implication of his searching us is to reward us or in the case of the wicked, to punish them (Ps 11:4-5).
2. What is God able to know about you (2-4)
- a. God is able to see what I am doing from the moment I wake up to the time I go to sleep at night. He doesn’t miss a single thing in our lives. He isn’t like a workaholic father who misses all the important times in his kids’ lives. God doesn’t miss the important or any moments in our lives. (Verse 2)
- b. He knows my thoughts regardless of how far from him I may think I am. It is more than just knowing my thoughts he understands them. It is the difference between listening and hearing. He knows what they mean to me and whether I am processing them through his word or the ways of the world. (Verse 2)
- c. Verse 3 tells me that God doesn’t just see what I do. He examines what I do. He discerns (NIV), scrutinizes (NAS) what I do and how I do it. He isn’t simply interested in what I’m doing but why I’m doing what I do. Am I doing this to glorify him or to glorify myself? He knows me so well, he is acquainted or familiar (NIV) with what I do and why I do it.
- d. He knows me so well, he even knows what I will say before I say it. This goes beyond being able to predict what I will say. According to verse 16, he knows what I will say before I say it because he has known it even before I was born. He knows it because he has ordained it.
3. Does his knowledge of you change your behavior? Why or why not?
It has, and it should, but I admit that I don’t always keep this in mind. It helps me realize that everything I do, I do with Jesus living in me. What I see and do, he is there with me. I do not want to subject him to my sins. Also, since he knows me intimately, it means he is concerned for me and my wellbeing (Rom 8:28-29). He wants the best for me and that is to glorify him.
4. How does God guide you (5)?
We’ve been reading Ezra and one of the repeated themes is that God’s hand was on him. The good hand of the Lord as noted in two places (Ezra 7:9, 8:18). I also think of, “The king's heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will” (Prov 21:1). Somehow, by his sovereign will. God can guide me even when I’m not aware of it. However, the best way is for me to let him. “How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (Ps 119:9-11). He guides me through his word that I’ve memorize, not just read, though that is better than not. It means that I seek him, I want his way in my life, I look for it with eagerness so that I will not sin against him. His Spirit guides me also (John 16:13).
5. How does meditating on God’s abilities help you live a godly life (6)?
It puts me in perspective with him. He is infinite and so far beyond anything I am or can comprehend that I must live in a holy fear of him. Because his love is infinite, I am also reminded that Jesus died for me. If he died for me then I should be living for him out of gratitude and a responsive love for him. Because he is omnipresent, I know that he is always with me and will give the grace and strength through his Holy Spirit to walk in his way instead of the world’s way. He gives me the strength to go through “weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and calamities” (2 Cor 12:10) and bring glory to him.
6. Are there things about yourself – physical, mental, emotional being – that you don’t like (not sin – we shouldn’t like that)? What do verses 13-16 say about these things?
When I was a little kid, I thought I should be a girl because people commented on my long eyelashes. Later, I didn’t like my hair because other kids’ hair looked good and mine went all over the place. Now, I am bald and don’t even have to shampoo it. Currently, I’m glad to be the way God made me. That doesn’t mean I like all the warts and moles, but they are part of me.
- a. God has formed everything about me from my internal organs to the warts and moles (vs. 13). If I were to question why I’m this way, I would be questioning God’s wisdom. He knows what is best for me and had me in mind long before I was conceived. Wondering why he made me this way is no problem but accusing him of making a mistake (questioning his wisdom) is nothing but a sin.
- b. From the very moment of my conception, the correct DNA of my mother and father came together and started doing exactly what God wanted. He saw and even directed each atom, molecule, protein, enzyme, and whatever else it takes to make up the proteins in my DNA. How intricately he has made me (vs. 15) – it is beyond human comprehension. It brings me to the point of awe of God and who am I to question who I am?
- c. Even before my conception, God was at work. I’ve been tracing my heritage over the past year and have found relatives that date back the 15th century. The amazing thing about his is that hundreds of thousands of people from Adam until now have contributed to my DNA. Some of it has been lost, but God took the exact right segments from the right people to make me. This is how he wote his book on me. It was already written before Adam. He has my name written in the Lamb’s book of life before the foundation of the earth (Rev 13:8, 17:8). Who am I to argue with God that he got the wrong DNA or a mutation happened that wasn’t in his plan?
7. What does verse 14 say about how you should respond to the way you are made?
This should only result in praise to God. I should know this in the depth of my soul that he has made me the way I am. I must look upon myself as one of his works and give him praise just as much as when I see the beauty of his creation. He has made the universe and named the stars (Ps 147:4). He upholds the universe by his powerful word (Col 1:17, Heb 1:3). All praise belongs to him who keeps each atom and subatomic particle in its place doing what it should so that I exist and am alive.
8. How do you reconcile verse 16 with bad things that have happened in your life including sins you have committed?
This is a paradox. It is something that a finite mind can’t truly comprehend. If I say that God created me and planned for me to sin, then I am maligning God’s holiness. For God doesn’t even tempt anyone (James 1:13). It is not his desire for anyone to sin. On the other hand, if God is sovereign, even to hardening hearts (Ex 4:21) and has every day planned, then it makes it look like God wanted me to sin. Paul answers the question: “What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God's part? By no means! For he says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.’ So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy” (Rom 9:14-16). I can only reconcile this by acknowledging God’s sovereignty. I am not saying that I understand his sovereignty, but I accept it and let it give me assurance in his goodness, love, wisdom, omniscience, and all his other attribute. It is a matter of trust.