A meditation in Palms 139 – The Ancient of days has seen every single day of our lives and has permitted the events of life in order to develop us. His Word assures us all things in life will be used by the Holy Spirit to transform those who believe into the likeness of the God Man (Romans 8:27-30). This is not only good news for us, this indeed a witness of His longsuffering love. Our LORD hates the evil that separates us from His Holiness, yet He tolerates His own suffering so that we can become like Jesus Christ who endured the cross so that many souls would fellowship with Him.
He also perseveres with our misunderstandings of His nature: when we blame Him for circumstances; when we do not see His goodness; when we do not trust His love. None of us like being accused of bad intentions, yet sometimes unaware we abuse our Saviour this way . He has seen all of this and has determined to love us throughout our transformation. What a Saviour!
Psalm 139 has a huge emphasis on our LORD’s perfect knowledge of humanity. We find encouragement to trust our LORD based on accepting that our Creator King, Jesus Christ, planned to redeem us by laying down His life from the foundation of the world although God had already foreseen the extent of all sin (Matthew 25:34; John 17:24; Ephesians 1:4; Hebrews 9:26; 1 Peter 1:20). What great self-sacrificing love! Oh, that we would magnify our LORD and exalt His name together for He is worthy all glory!
When we magnify Him, the radiance of His beauty and love pours out into our lives and those around us. When we bring to remembrance God’s nature and recall those beautiful moments of His presence, we can keep an appropriate perspective by the power of the Holy Spirit. If we are listening to the Holy Spirit, we can easily settle into peace, trust and humility because He will help us remember:
- how magnificently incomparable our all-powerful gracious LORD is; and,
- that His desire for relationship with us existed having already known the worst we could do.
An Incomplete Overview of God’s Character:
Eternality, Mercy, Goodness, Omnipotence, Grace, Omnipresence, Holiness, Omniscience, Immanence, Righteousness, Immutability, Self-Existence, Justice, Sovereignty, Love, Transcendence
It is in this secret place of rest/worship we have everything; we lack nothing in Him (Psalms 34:5-10) regardless of circumstances.
Is Christ your everything? Or when you read these promises are your eyes fixed on the temporal?
David had so many memories: (1) as a boy he defeated the giant Goliath because of faith in Jehovah, the LORD Adonai, Elohim; (2) the many battles fought in support of King Saul; (3) Saul’s jealousy of him that led to attempts to take David’s life; (4) David’s appointment to the throne; and much more. During David’s lifetime he was confronted by many false accusations on top of legitimate sins he committed. Our LORD understands false accusations because He has endured them from the very beginning!
Psalm 139 begins and ends with an acknowledgement that God knew David intimately; in a way that examined every aspect of his soul. As the Psalm unfolds, David differentiates between evil doers and himself; the text suggests that the difference is the love David has for God portrayed by his displeasure with those who do not love God. Throughout the passage, David wrote by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit about the perfect knowledge of God. While he has this confidence that the LORD knows that his heart is to serve the LORD, at the end of the Psalm he invites the LORD to continue to examine him.
- O LORD, You have searched me and known me. (Psalm 139:1 NKJV)
- Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; And see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalm 139:23-24 NKJV)
This is a truly good place to be: where we relinquish pride and freely invite the LORD to examine our motives as a way to purify us. This “examining” validates what lays inside our souls; the revelation sifts between the dichotomy of the human nature and His divine nature (the Holy Spirit that indwells every believer since Pentecost – Acts 2:1-4). This is grace as it was freely given to so that we could believe and the effect of grace is the Holy Spirit’s refining work within a sincere believer (Romans 3:22-26) without the performance of old covenant rituals (Romans 4:14-16) which was a type of things to come (Colossians 2:17; Hebrews 9:11; Hebrews 10:1).
- Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law. (Romans 3:31 NIV)
- “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, and whose hope is the LORD. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; But its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit. “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it? I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, According to the fruit of his doings. (Jeremiah 17:7-10 NKJV)
In the second verse of Psalm 139, David acknowledged a person’s thoughts and actions are known by the LORD. This is so marvelous because it means we do not need to pretend or try to hide when we fall short; trying to avoid our Saviour only compounds shame and prolongs our misery. While people often try various techniques and systems of self-exploration, we do not fully understand all of our thoughts, motives, memories … Only the LORD truly knows a person entirely through all stages of life and circumstance and yet He loves us. During moments of doubt, concern, even wandering, He sees these thoughts and has already accounted for them.
A cross reference for this verse is Psalm 56:8 which tells us that He collects our tears in His bottle and makes records in His book. Have you ever saved something from someone you loved as keepsake, a remembrance…? He is not only with us today; He is planning on turning all of those tears into joys in eternity and He won’t forget – He is keeping track of every tear (Psalms 126:5-6; Matthew 10:30).
God is not detached from His creation; He is active in it and deliberately so. God selected Abraham (Abram) and promised to make him a great nation (Genesis 12) and his wife Sarah (Sarai) was barren (Genesis 11: 30). After Sarah told Abraham to sleep with her maidservant, Hagar conceived a child (Ishmael) from Abraham (Genesis 16:1-4). She then fled from Sarah who had treated her harshly in reaction to Hagar’s changed attitude toward Sarah. While Hagar was not destined to bear the child of the promise (lineage of the Messiah), The LORD engaged her in conversation to provide guidance that she was to return to the care/protection of Abraham and Sarah. This interaction caused Hagar to call the LORD, Jehovah ‘ēl rŏ’î (the LORD who sees).
- Then she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, You-Are-the-God-Who-Sees; for she said, “Have I also here seen Him who sees me?” (Genesis 16:13 NKJV)
What grace! Sovereign God permitted Abraham and Sarah the freedom to act independent of God by permitting Abraham’s union with Hagar to produce Ishmael. God’s righteousness permitted the consequence of the relationship (He created Ishmael’s spirit which would be birthed using human reproduction); and then, blessed Hagar and Ishmael turning them into a nation while He had every intention of fulfilling His declared will. God saw Hagar’s tears and loved her.
- Therefore, judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one’s praise will come from God. (1 Corinthians 4:5 NKJV)
Psalm 139:3 contains the acknowledged that our LORD is “acquainted” with all of our ways. Our LORD is unchanging. This God who was acquainted with David’s journeys is our High Priest who ever lives to make intercession for us (Hebrews 7:25). His intercession never sleeps, it preserves us during everyday life, protects us from dangers we do not anticipate, and secures us during the trials of life into our graduation to heaven!
- He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel Shall neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD is your keeper; The LORD is your shade at your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, Nor the moon by night. The LORD shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul. The LORD shall preserve your going out and your coming in From this time forth, and even forevermore. (Psalm 121:3-8 NKJV)
Despite the human tendency to forget many of the blessings in our lives during times of difficulty, our faithful LORD continues to pray for us. Consider how forgiving and loving our LORD is. As human beings, we have all said and thought things that we regret whether during frustration or impatience with people or a circumstance the LORD has permitted. Our LORD heard those words (Psalm 139:4), forgave us, and suffers long with great patience as we grow. David was very aware the LORD knew his thoughts and words; he wrote many prayers asking for help from the Saviour:
- Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults. Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins; Let them not have dominion over me. Then I shall be blameless, And I shall be innocent of great transgression. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer. (Psalm 19:12-14 NKJV)
- And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. (Hebrews 4:13 NKJV)
Knowing us so intimately and desiring reconciliation with us, He protects us with His Holy Spirit within us so that we have safe boundaries. Psalm 139:5-6 causes my soul to rejoice in His fortification of our spirits and souls because Scripture states He creates a shield about us (internally and externally).
- The angel of the LORD encamps all around those who fear Him, And delivers them. Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him! (Psalm 34:7-8 NKJV)
- Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! (Romans 11:33 NKJV)
Psalms 139:7-12 should amaze us. These Scriptures testify to God’s transcendence, immanence, omnipresence, sovereignty, and omnipotence as nothing is more powerful than Him: not the grave; nothing in the universe; nothing natural or supernatural can suppress His presence, His intervention, His plan, His authority and rule. (Jeremiah 23:23-24; Proverbs 15:11; Daniel 2:22; Psalm 23:1-6). Praise God! What an amazing power to be held within.
- Nevertheless, I am continually with You; You hold me by my right hand. (Psalm 73:23 NKJV)
- For I, the LORD your God, will hold your right hand, saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you.’ (Isaiah 41:13 NKJV)
- The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. (Colossians 1:15-18 NIV)
Family of God, meditate on the next verses with me. Not only does our LORD know where we are in this very second, He foreknew ever moment of our existence and has already planned for our success in Him!
- For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them. (Psalm 139:13-16 NKJV)
Ever wish you that you could change some things about yourself? Certainly, there are things that we have responsibility to change since Scripture commands us to watch over our thoughts (2 Corinthians 10:3-6) and honour our bodies (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Thankfully for the believer, our characters are jointly developed by our LORD and with our submission to Him (1 Corinthians 1:30; 1 Corinthians 6:11; James 4:7, 10, 17).
Strong’s Number H3629 matches the Hebrew כִּלְיָה (kilyâ) – the mind (as the interior self). The mind is of seat of emotion and affection as evident in Psalms 16:7; Psalms 73:21; Proverbs 23:16; Jeremiah 11:20; Jeremiah 17:10; Jeremiah 20:12; Lamentations 3:13.
Strong’s Number H5526 matches the Hebrew סָכַךְ (sāḵaḵ) to fence in, cover over, (figuratively) protect: —cover, defence, defend, hedge in as evident in Exodus 25:20; Exodus 33:22; Job 3:23; Job 38:8; Psalms 5:11; Psalms 91:4
When considering Psalms 139:13-16 above, we should rejoice that the LORD is developing us into the persons He foresaw. Since He is perfect, we can have confidence that we, the works of His hands, are beautiful in His sight and will become increasingly so. When we look at nature and marvel at the design, power, systems, and attraction, we should ponder in awe that we were made to have dominion over all of these things (Genesis 1:28). God provided all of these things before He made mankind. He created the human race in His image, and on an individual basis He creates each person’s spirit and personality. One day He will fully fill all things (1 Corinthians 15:24-28) and we will enjoy everything that He will make new:
- Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.” (Revelation 21:1-5 NKJV)
Until that time, we have hope for the future and rejoice in the present time. Since God foreknew us, created us, and designed our personalities for specific purposes, we ought to embrace who we are becoming. We can rejoice knowing God will finish His work in us. Although we see our shortcomings in the past and currently, we know that He loved us then and now, and is committed to our futures. All of our righteousness is as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6) in the light of the God of Righteousness and His divine influence within us makes us capable of completing the work that He prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10; Philippians 2:13; Jeremiah 1:5 NKJV). He loved us before we started this sanctification journey. Let’s lift our voices in praise to God!
- “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. … “If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. (John 15:16, 19 NKJV)
- In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. … We love Him because He first loved us. (1 John 4:10, 19 NKJV)
- looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2 NKJV)
Verses 17 and 18 remind us of the LORD’s vast capacity to have an abundance of thoughts towards all believers and future believers (Isaiah 55:8-9; Jeremiah 29:11; Psalm 31:19) that we can not even number; He even knows the date of a future believer’s conversion. As a master strategist He orders all of the affairs of mankind while permitting freedom of choice/actions although foreseen. His thoughts number more than all of the sand in the world and His Spirit is engaged with each believer night and day, alive or in heaven (Psalm 17:15; Psalm 63:6-7; 1 Thessalonians 5:9-11).
- O my soul, you have said to the LORD, “You are my Lord, my goodness is nothing apart from You.” … O LORD, You are the portion of my inheritance and my cup; You maintain my lot. The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; Yes, I have a good inheritance. I will bless the LORD who has given me counsel; My heart also instructs me in the night seasons. I have set the LORD always before me; Because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved. Therefore, my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; My flesh also will rest in hope. For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Psalm 16:2, 5-11 NKJV)
Verses 19 -22 should be read prayerfully. It speaks of such an intense love for the LORD that provokes the heart to defend His honour and glory. It speaks passion against those who disrespect the LORD and believe they can fight against the Almighty. It’s a clear allegiance. It means that enemies of the LORD, those in rebellion against Him, can never be our friends. This should really make us think. We are to show love to all human beings, especially to believers; however, “friendship” with unbelievers should be avoided (James 4:4).
Our witness is an outreach of love while friendship is a bringing inward. Christ made friends with sinners and while He loved the world, He only made friends (companions; sojourners) strategically. This is not a contradiction if it is examined closely.
- “The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ But wisdom is justified by her children.” (Matthew 11:19 NKJV)
- “Now therefore, listen to me, my children, For blessed are those who keep my ways. Hear instruction and be wise, And do not disdain it. Blessed is the man who listens to me, Watching daily at my gates, Waiting at the posts of my doors. For whoever finds me finds life, And obtains favor from the LORD; But he who sins against me wrongs his own soul; All those who hate me love death.” (Proverbs 8:32-36 NKJV)
Christ became a friend to those who the Father would draw; those who were watching for salvation, seeking God. He did not become a friend to all sinners; rather He often rebuked them (Matthew 12:34; Matthew 23:33).
- And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:13 NKJV)
- ‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. (Matthew 15:8 NKJV)
- Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. (James 4:8 NKJV)
- Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. (John 14:6 NKJV)
- “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. (John 6:37 NKJV)
These verses remind us that only God knows a person’s end and we are not to attempt to judge a person’s heart. We are to use wisdom to understand how close a non-believer is to be to us. We must treat all people with respect because they are made in the image of God; but our allegiance is to our LORD and we must depart from evil ways and doers. (1 Corinthians 15:33; 2 Peter 2:19-20; 2 Corinthians 6:14)
Two questions worth asking: (1) Do you continue to testify about Jesus Christ to the unsaved friend? and, (2) has there been positive or negative changes in you or the other person in the relationship? The best approach here is to pray about friendships, allow the Holy Spirit to examine your intentions (Psalm 26:2) and follow the leading of the LORD. It will become clear. Non-believers tend to become tired of an on-going witness and those who will come, will be attracted to the witness. Our mission is to make disciples which requires a relationship full of biblical discourse. Our relationship with the LORD is more valuable than temporal relationships that will not survive this world.
As the Psalm closes, in verses 23 and 24 David invited the LORD to complete His refining work in his heart. He trusted his heart entirely to the LORD’s grace with a confident request for the LORD to direct life’s journey perpetually into eternity. Based on the earlier verses 19-22, this invitation is for the LORD to point out anything that displeases Him because the primary desire is to be in complete harmony with Him. Implicit in this heart’s cry is a willingness to address anything that causes Him grief (Psalm 25:8-9).
- Cause me to hear Your lovingkindness in the morning, For in You do I trust; Cause me to know the way in which I should walk, For I lift up my soul to You. … Teach me to do Your will, For You are my God; Your Spirit is good. Lead me in the land of uprightness. (Psalm 143:8, 10 NKJV)
- “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. “Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. (Matthew 7:13-14 NKJV)
- that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, (1 Peter 1:7 NKJV)
Earlier in this blog, we briefly reviewed the account of Abraham, Sarah and Hagar in relation to the God who saw and loved them as individuals; the LORD had individual plans for them. Thousands of years later, Paul wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit about justification by faith referring to Abraham as an example and Paul quotes David:
- … faith is accounted for righteousness, just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works: “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, And whose sins are covered; Blessed is the man to whom the LORD shall not impute sin.” … For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. … Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all (as it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations”) in the presence of Him whom he believed–God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did; who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, “So shall your descendants be.” … He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. And therefore “it was accounted to him for righteousness.” Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, but also for us…. (Romans 4:5-8, 13, 16-18, 20-24 NKJV)
Reading the life of David from the book of Samuel and relating it to his highly prophetic writings in the Psalms, we learn much of God’s character and we see how the LORD’s hand provided for David emotionally, spiritually and physically; his life was not without trouble nor joy. When confronted by accusations, his response was to look upward. An example given to us in 2Samuel 22 and is echoed Psalm 18:
- Then David spoke to the LORD the words of this song, on the day when the LORD had delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul. … They confronted me in the day of my calamity, But the LORD was my support. He also brought me out into a broad place; He delivered me because He delighted in me. … “With the merciful You will show Yourself merciful; With a blameless man You will show Yourself blameless; … You will save the humble people; But Your eyes are on the haughty, that You may bring them down. … As for God, His way is perfect; The word of the LORD is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him. “For who is God, except the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God? God is my strength and power, And He makes my way perfect. (2 Samuel 22:1, 19-20, 26, 28, 31-33 NKJV)
Just as David had to confront his shortcomings as pointed out from the enemy as accusation, from his own struggles, from comrades in arms, and even from the LORD by way of Nathan the Prophet for conviction, he maintained a heart that searched after God. He tried his best to keep a right perspective of God giving Him honour and glory based on God’s character. He repented from sin when faced with it and was intentional about his relationship with the LORD in priority, alignment, and allegiance.
Psalm 139 teaches us God foreknew us prior to our physical conception and qualified us (Colossians 1:12-13) through Jesus’ finished work at Calvary who is the beginning and end of all things (Revelation 1:8; 22:13; Colossians 1:15-16; John 1:1-3). He has made us capable to be fruitful in every good work and to be increasing in the knowledge of God. He designed each believer specifically as He intended; He placed us in exactly where He wanted us in time and geographical location; He has placed the people we have around us for a purpose. His desire if for our good and to be a light to the world for His glory. And when we agree with Him, we cease tossing insults at Him. When we believe and trust God (like Abraham) we walk in righteousness that is credited to us. When we understand that He sees us and loves us, we can begin to rest in His grace. When we rest confidently in Him, we can be filled to the overflowing as we magnify the LORD of lords and the King of kings.
- Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2 NKJV)