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FRAMEWORKS: Psalm 139: God who sees and knows everything


For the director of music. Of David. A psalm.


[Preliminary Comments: In this remarkable second of eight psalms by David at this point, we have the greatest ‘insight psalm' in the Bible where David recognises just how the Lord knows and sees everything about him. The Lord knows all his activity [v.1-5] and that in itself almost seems too much for him [v.6], but then he realises that not only does the Lord see his activity, He goes before him and behind him so that, in fact, there is nowhere on earth David could go where God's presence wasn't [v.7-12]. But then, as he thinks on, he realises that the Lord has known him, been involved with him, and watched over him from the moment of conception onwards [v.13-16] and as he speculates on God's ‘thoughts' he realises that God knows absolutely everything and that too is almost too incredible to comprehend [v.17,18]. But then he looks out from himself and is aware of those around him who were unrighteous [v.19-22] and has to conclude by asking the Lord to search him through and through so he can avoid being like them [v.23,24]. This is a psalm that is not only about the greatness of the Lord but also of David's insights into how that greatness relates to him.]



v.1-5 The first group of things listing what the Lord knows about him


v.1  You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
v.2  You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
v.3  You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.
v.4  Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely.
v.5  You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me.

v.6 He feels this is almost too much to take in


v.6  Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too lofty for me to attain.


v.7-12 He realises there is absolutely nowhere he could go to escape the Lord


v.7  Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
v.8  If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
v.9  If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
v.10  even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.
v.11  If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,'
v.12  even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you.


v.13-16 He realises God was involved with him from conception


v.13  For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother's womb.
v.14  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
v.15  My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
v.16  Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.

v.17,18 he is amazed by what he knows of the Lord


v.17  How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
v.18  Were I to count them,
    they would outnumber the grains of sand –
    when I awake, I am still with you.


v.19-22 His only anxiety is over the unrighteous


v.19  If only you, God, would slay the wicked!
    Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty!
v.20  They speak of you with evil intent;
    your adversaries misuse your name.
v.21  Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord,
    and abhor those who are in rebellion against you?
v.22  I have nothing but hatred for them;
    I count them my enemies.

v.23,24 He ask the Lord to search him and lead him in righteousness


v.23  Search me, God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
v.24  See if there is any offensive way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting.



[Additional Comments: Our response to this psalm must surely be to recognise that all these things are equally true of us. In the light of this, we must recognise that we can only stand secure before this Holy God, who sees and knows everything about us, in the light of His Son having died for us and thus to take and deal with all those things about us that make us less than perfect.]



Continue to Psa 140