I absolutely adore Psalm 139. The words bring me to tears almost every time I read them. I have quoted sections of this Psalm over and over again in my life as it has become one of the most precious examples to me of how intimately the Lord knows and loves me. Yet, we get all too shy about expressing it There is no viable reason we should ever to ever try and hide from the love of God because God is not afraid of any darkness in me. He sees it and He know it intimately! We may play our children’s game of “Hide and Go Seek” but God never does!
Psalm 139 is an eloquent psalm of prayer, meant to be sung in praise at worship services. When we but seek to learn, when we look for help or healing, when we express gratitude or anxiety, and when we celebrate God’s blessings … we pray!
Prayer is conversation with God, layered upon layered with all of these intricate levels which contribute to our relationship with God our Creator and our Father.
The NIV Study Bible shares, “Nowhere (outside of Job) does one find expressed such profound awareness of how awesome it is to ask God to examine not only one’s life but also one’s soul.” Life deep within the unconditional love of Christ further amplifies what words the psalmist poured from his heart. We have been each created by God, purposefully. He knows us, intimately better than we know ourselves! He is mighty to save, He’s always mightily good. He is all-knowing and everywhere. Because of whom He is, we are always loved and never alone.
Let us now pick up our Bibles, dust off the dust covers and take the time to read the whole Psalm – not just separate the verses out individually or in groups of verses as I generally do when I am writing a devotional focused on one point.
Psalm 139 New International Version
For the director of music. Of David. A psalm.
1 You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
5 You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
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.
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.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts,[a] God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you.
19 If only you, God, would slay the wicked!
Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty!
20 They speak of you with evil intent;
your adversaries misuse your name.
21 Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord,
and abhor those who are in rebellion against you?
22 I have nothing but hatred for them;
I count them my enemies.
23 Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.
Let us ask the question, what truths were on David’s heart writing Psalm 139?
Psalm 139 reflects David’s prayerful meditation of God’s omnipresence and omniscience, and the effect those characteristics of God have on the human heart. Omnipresence means God is everywhere, simultaneously. Omniscience means that God is all-knowing, His knowledge is not limited. Knowing God creates gratitude and praise for who He is and what He does for us. We were made to glorify God. Our personal experience and knowledge of God directly affects our relationships, especially in times of hardship, injustice, and pain.
David’s heartfelt journey with God, through the good, bad, challenging, and unbelievable, remains alive and relatable throughout Psalm 139.
“It sings the omniscience and omnipresence of God, inferring from these the overflow of the powers of wickedness,” Rev. Charles H. Spurgeon’s Treasury of David explains, “since he who sees and hears the abominable deeds and words of the rebellions will surely deal with them according to his justice.”
Who God is, allows us to understand who and Whose, we are. Life within the love of Christ Jesus, Immanuel (God with us), changes our hearts forever and continually until we finally arrive home in heaven. The journey of each human heart is truly unique, purposed, and intimately known by the One True God.
Here Are 5 critically essential truths from Psalm 139 to Strengthen Your Heart:
Critically Essential Truth # 1 — We Are Intimately Known!
Psalm 139:13 Amplified Version
For You formed my innermost parts;
You knit me [together] in my mother’s womb.
Before we were known to our mothers, God was forming every intricate detail and fabric of who we are. We often default to a critical view of ourselves and others. Psalm 139 helps each of us to see ourselves and others through God’s perspective. Color, ethnicity, disability …every trait and characteristic were intricately crafted by our purposeful God. We are each God’s Masterpiece!
We are crafted personally and purposefully, to bring all glory to God. Nothing about us is the least bit accidental. God doesn’t simply allow us to be a certain way or to carry a certain trait – every cell of our being is intentional. When my wife became a mother, she experienced love on another level. Yet, she only could carry her son into this world in her womb. God alone gave them life and God alone cares for them infinitely more. We are all loved by God this way.
“God has perfect knowledge of us,” Theologian and Commentator Matthew Henry wrote, “and all our thoughts and actions are open before him.”
Matthew Henry’s Complete Commentary:
We cannot control the thoughts popping into our minds all day long, every day. But we do have some say over what happens to them once they arrive.
Scripture advises to take our thoughts captive. Some of the rogue thoughts that enter our minds are absolutely crazy! God sees every last one of them. He knows all of our words before we let them exit our mouths. He knows what we will do. He’s numbered our days. We are intimately known by God, not just outwardly, but inwardly too. When the heart is mentioned in Scripture, it often refers to the seat of our souls, the place from which we make all decisions, and we harbor all our beliefs. God is there. He is not surprised by our physical or mental struggles!
Being intimately known by our sovereign God means we are not hidden, nor should we feel compelled or convinced by guilt or shame to hide from Him in any way. The sacrifice Jesus made on the cross negated 100% the shame which compelled Adam and Eve to hide from God in the garden. Though the curse of sin we live under compels us to do the same—run and hide when we sin—God made a way for us, through Jesus, to bring our sin to His feet and confess and repent of it. God’s faithfulness, God’s forgiveness, His mercies, and the grace available to us through our Lord and Savior Christ Jesus, are new every day!
Critically Essential Truth #2 — We Are Purposefully Made
Psalm 139:14 Amplified Version 14
I will give thanks and praise to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.
We were each made with purpose, to bring glory to God. Each talent, gift, and occupation have a place in the workforce of the Kingdom of God. Who we are is meant to bring fearful reverence to God! Not a fear to be anxious or afraid of, but a respectful, reverence for God. When people look at the lives of those who follow Christ, they should witness the life He shed dripping from our daily lives.
According to Biblestudytools.com, wonderfully means “to be distinct, marked out, be separated, be distinguished.” We aren’t made wonderful in the eyes of world, but from the heart of God, to bring glory to His name. We have each been intentionally set apart, different from the world. In the midst of their daily life, Christians do well to remind themselves of the Good Shepherd’s knowledge and provision, most of our doubts, anxieties, and fears that occupy our Christian soul can be attributed to our own lack of trust in Christ as the Good Shepherd.
Even though David penned this psalm at least a thousand years before Jesus walked the earth, everything in Scripture points to God’s greatest expression of love for us in the birth, life, ministry, crucifixion resurrection of Christ Jesus.
Living in these New Covenant times, we can read this psalm knowing Jesus has defeated death and is seated at the right hand of the Father. Those who follow God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit will ultimately be welcomed into heaven for eternity upon death on this earth. God moves through the whole of our earthly lives to spread the gospel. His desire is not to leave behind even one!
Critically Essential Truth # 3 — God Is in absolute Control
Psalm 139:16 Amplified Version
Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were appointed for me,
When as yet there was not one of them [even taking shape].
We may try to hide ourselves from the truth here is infinitely more happening in the world and our lives than we can plausibly see. But God’s view is limitless, transcending all time and space. He has numbered our days, and nothing can change or alter His good plan for our lives. His will overcomes what we want.
It’s hard to genuinely grasp, comprehend God is in control of a world spinning far off its rails. So much injustice, unfairness, tragedy and heartbreak surround everyday circumstances world-wide. Even devout Christ-followers gaze up to the depths of the heavens to wonder where God is during tumultuous seasons.
“God’s sovereign control is complete, not partial,” Reverend Dr. John Piper explains on desiringGod.org, “Whether it’s more or less direct or more or less indirect, more or less by active intrusion or more or less by tactical permission- however it is, God controls it, and the control is complete and pervasive. Nothing in the universe is random without divine design and purpose.”
Critically Essential Truth # 4 — We Are Never Alone
Psalm 139:7 Amplified Version
Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
One of the biggest tricks and deceits of our greatest adversary is to isolate and convince us we are alone. Especially in today’s society, as the world endures a global pandemic, isolation has become a reality we experience for long periods of time. Even when we are out in society, masks and plastic barriers isolate us from each other. Quarantine puts us in our rooms alone for half a month’s time!
But even when the physical presence of other people is socially distant, even absent from our lives for a designated time, we are never alone. God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are always and forever with us. God is impossible to escape from. And He is mighty to save. David knew these qualities of God well, as he was chased down by a very vengeful King Saul and exiled to hide in a cave!
God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit encompass the One True, Triune God. God is everywhere, all at once. The Zondervan Illustrated Bible Dictionary explains, “Not a part but the whole of God is present in every place. This is true of all three members of the Trinity. They are so closely related that where one is the other can be said to be also.”
Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father in heaven, interceding for us. Through His life’s sacrifice on the cross, the Holy Spirit dwells in every Christ-follower.
Critically Essential Truth # 5 — Judgment Belongs to God Alone
Psalm 139:19-20 Amplified Version
[a]O that You would kill the wicked, O God;
Go away from me, therefore, men of bloodshed.
For they speak against You wickedly,
Your enemies take Your name in vain.
Throughout his life, David experienced many “wicked men” who sought after his life. Yet he spared his greatest enemy King Saul when him and his best men were asleep in a cave. David knew, judgment belongs to God and to God alone. Much of the Psalms teach us to love our enemies, pray to God on their behalf.
What does David mean, then, when he wrote verses 15-22? David’s pen was divinely inspired by the Holy Spirit of God. God’s Word is Truth, and in its entirety points the devout follower decisively and directly unto Christ Jesus.
Sensibly, these verses are followed by: “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24)
When we genuinely and humbly pray this verse, God faithfully answers! We are to pray for all our enemies and the enemies of God and beseeching, He searches our souls as well. He knows our enemies, and ourselves, far better than we do.
Psalm 139 is a deeply personal and intimate prayer and song of praise to God.
Though Author and Creator of the entire universe, and each of us, God is 100% personally invested and in touch with every single one of our lives! He cares deeply and compassionately for us, not only as a whole but individually.
The NIV Study Bible relays, “This final Davidic collection contains the Psalter’s two most magnificent expositions of the greatness and goodness of God, one of them (Psalm 139) focusing on his relationship with an individual…” (emphasis added). https://www.biblica.com/resources/scholar-notes/niv-study-bible/
Because of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and resurrection from the dead, we are able to come freely to God through Christ. In hope, in prayer, praise, and everyday life, He is our constant companion. Jesus calls us friends. What a God we serve! A God who 1000% saves! We are 1000% known, loved, never alone.
In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,
Let us pray,
Dear Father in heaven, your Son promised that we would see him again if we wait patiently and listen to what the Holy Spirit says to us. Illuminate our hearts and send your Spirit in. All that is yours will be ours through your Spirit. I pray that I learn to quiet my mind so I can hear the Holy Spirit. I pray that I am filled with the understanding to know how to follow its guidance for me. Amen.