Psalm 139 = God Knows Me?!
Bible Background-Psalm 139 fits in the category of a Psalm of Personal Thanksgiving. The writer seems to experience God’s closeness as almost ‘too close’ at first; but then welcomes God’s closeness!
Digging Deeper: 1. The Hebrew word ‘to know’ implies intimately knowing someone. (i.e. “Adam knew his wife Eve, and she bore him a son.) 7 times in this Psalm, the writer feels fully and completely known by God! At first, that’s discomforting. But upon further review, this ‘being known’ by God, seems very satisfying!
2. If God does indeed know your actions, thoughts, and words, how might that make you feel? Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, the psalmist writes. Is that a little threatening how well God can know us? Is it ‘confining’? You hem me in, before and behind! Is it also potentially freeing? As in: God knows me better than I know myself? I can be open and honest with God. I need not hide from God!
3. Verses 8-12 describe God in a kind of ‘inescapable’ way, as in: there’s nowhere to run or hide from God’s presence! (If only Jonah had learned that before he tried to flee to Tarshish!) One of our now deceased seniors recalled a Sunday School lesson “There is no spot…where God is not!” That was a reassuring word to her. We also once had a teen who took down from his bedroom wall a picture of Jesus, because he didn’t want to feel like Jesus was watching everything he did as a high-schooler! How do you welcome or try to avoid the presence of God?
4. Verses 13f are beautiful thoughts about how God knit each of us together in our mother’s womb; and how incredibly our bodies, minds, and spirits are made! Can we see ourselves, with all our beauty and all our warts as being wonderfully made in the image of God? Can we see all of our fellow humans that way as well? In a time of hatred, division, and even violence, can this truth that we are all created in the image of God help us see each other more clearly and more generously?
5. Verses 19-22 make us wonder “Where did that anger come from?” Is this writer praying for personal revenge on his enemies? Or does closeness to God mean we need to oppose those who oppose God? Is this the writer’s way of saying “I’m on your side God! Your will be done?”
6. If there was any hesitation how close the writer wanted God to be, that disappears by the end of the psalm, where the prayer becomes “Search me! Know me! And lead me in the path that is everlasting!”