Psalm 139 is famous mainly for two lines:
- Verse 14 – “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Largely applied to one’s identity and significance.)
- Verses 23 & 24 – “Search me, O God, and know my heart!” (Largely applied to one’s desire to see their own sin and to repent of it.)
These verses and applications are very good. But this psalm has so much more!
Some years ago, I came to a point in my faith where I doubted God’s care and love for me as an individual. Sure, God loves the world. He intently loves groups of people (His elect, those who have faith in Jesus Christ), but did He love me? At this point, I was one or two years into college and working through identity issues, so I searched myself often. Yet in all my searching, I realized I was unable to truly know all about me. Yes, I can know my likes and dislikes, and some of my skills and weaknesses. But I was hit with the reality that I couldn’t exhaust all of who I am. I knew much was hidden from me, just as much is hidden from infants, children, teenagers, and whoever else is less experienced at life than we are.
This realization left me feeling afloat, unable to grasp hold of myself. It was in this state of mind I wondered if God, then, truly knew me and loved me. When you can’t grasp yourself (aren’t you supposed to know yourself better than anyone else?), you tend to doubt if anyone else can grasp you, know you, all of you. And it’s a whole new step from there to wonder if that person also truly loves and cares for you with that knowledge in tow.
Oh, Psalm 139 is full of good news…healing news.
We are not hidden. Never have been, and never will be.
— In my mother’s womb, when I was hidden from the world, I was not hidden from God (vv. 13-15).
— In the privacy of my home, I am not hidden from God (vv 1-3).
— In darkness and despair, when I feel far from God, I am not hidden from Him and neither are my troubles and tears (vv. 11-12).
— In my fear of the future or of the past, I am not hidden or unprotected (v. 5).
Our God created us, and He saw us at the very beginning when no one else could. And the same is true today, regardless if you are five years removed from that beginning or ninety-five. He sees us and He cares for us! If He didn’t, would He
- Search us? (v. 1)
- Discern our thoughts from afar? (v. 2)
- Search out our path and our lying down? (v. 3)
- Be acquainted with all our ways? (v. 3)
- Intentionally stay with us wherever we are? (vv. 7-12)
- Purposefully and wonderfully knit us in our mothers’ wombs? (vv. 13-14)
- Write out all the days of our lives in His book, before they even happened? (v. 16)
The world is currently experiencing a great blow to its illusion of control, and that blow reaches individuals, too. If you find yourself responding in fear, run to your God who has already written all the days and circumstances of your life in His book. Trust and rest in Him.
If you are lonely or dealing with an identity issue (which may manifest itself in confusion, superiority, or inferiority), bow to the God who is near and who purposefully made you. Then rise and walk with confidence in His complete knowledge of you and deep care for you.
O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it.
Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light about me be night,”
even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with you.
For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.