************ Sermon on Psalm 139 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on June 28, 2015
"God Knows Me"
We all have something to hide. If everything were known about any of us we would instantly lose any good name we may have. So we cover up. We try to present our best side to the world. We want people to know us for our virtues, not our vices.
Like us, King David had more than one thing in his life that he wanted to cover up. He wrote Psalm 139 as he reflected on his cover up. In the psalm David looks at himself from the perspective of God. David looks at himself in relationship to God.
I God Knows Everything About Us
A As David looks at himself in relationship to God he comes to a startling conclusion: God knows me. "O Lord, you have searched me and you know me" (Ps 139:1). God knows everything about me. Try as we may like, we can't hide our true nature from God because God knows all things and sees all things.
God is perfect in knowledge (Job 37:16). He isn't fooled by outward appearances because He looks into the heart and knows what is really there. Remember the time the prophet Samuel was commanded to go to Bethlehem to anoint one of Jesse's sons as king. Samuel was impressed when he saw Jesse's son Eliab and thought "Surely the LORD'S anointed stands here." But the LORD said to Samuel,
(1 Sam 16:7) "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."
God knows and sees everything. David learned this about God. From his palace he spied on a neighbor lady as she took a bath. He slept with her and got her pregnant. He had her husband killed to cover up his adultery. David thought he had covered all the bases, that he was safe and secure. But God knew what David did and sent the prophet Nathan to confront David with his sin. It was sometime after this that David composed the beautiful words of Psalm 139.
B Verse 1. "O LORD, you have searched me and you know me." The Hebrew word for "searched" is the word, "to dig." David is saying God is like an archeologist digging into an historical site. Every shovelful of dirt is carefully sifted and checked for artifacts. Even the smallest of fragments is examined and catalogued. God misses nothing as He does His digging.
Verse 2. In what way does God understand me? "You know when I sit and when I rise." That is, Lord, You understand and know me when I am passive -- when I sit down; and, you know me when I am active -- when I rise up. Whether I am resting or active, You know me.
But that is not all. "You perceive my thoughts from afar." God knows and understands my thoughts even before they get to the surface. You know how I think and what I think about. You even understand the thoughts which come unbidden, in a constant flow to my mind.
Verse 3. Then there follows the awareness of God's knowledge of my habits and choices. "You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways." You know the way I choose to go, and You know the habits of my life.
Verse 4. Then David contemplates the fact that God is concerned about him. "Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD." That is, You understand my language. Every word that I utter you know and understand. Every year my Rotary club hosts two students from overseas. This year we have a student from Brazil and Spain. When they first came last August every conversation was painful. It was obvious they didn't understand us most of the time. And, I am sure we didn't understand them as well. But that is not the case with God. He knows and understands every word -- even before we say it. "Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD." That is, You understand my language, you communicate with me.
Verses 5 & 6. Then the psalmist discovers that God is active in his past, his future, and his present. "You hem me in -- behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. (6) Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain."
Verses 13-16. How well does God know me? Even in the womb He knows everything about me. "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." There are those who say man is just an accident of nature, that we are the result of evolution, and are destined for extinction. David knows better. He knows we are made by God and planned by God.
C "O Lord, you have searched me and you know me" (Ps 139:1). As we take a look at these verses we realize the psalmist is simply overwhelmed by the fact that God knows him better than he knows himself, better than anyone else knows him. That is amazing, is it not? God simply knows everything there is to know about me.
Think about this. Recently I was selected for a health survey being done for the State of California. They wanted to know everything about me: my medical history, my weight, my height. I had to say "Yes" or "No" to smoking, alcohol use, illegal drugs, coffee, soda, etc., etc. They wanted to know what exercise I did, how often, and how long. They wanted to know if I took any over the counter drugs. They wanted to know if I was taking any prescription drugs. They wanted to know the kinds of foods I eat. They wanted to know my lifestyle. They wanted to know what I did for recreation. After all this, can I say they know me. They may know certain things about me, but they still don't know me as a person.
I am told that Google knows a lot about me. So does Facebook and the NSA. But they don't know everything. And, they certainly don't know me as a person.
But God knows me. The God of the universe knows me. "O Lord, you have searched me and you know me" (Ps 139:1). Isn't this amazing? The God Who made everything out of nothing, knows me. The God Who continues to uphold and rule everything He made, knows me. Isn't it amazing that such a God is interested in me, that He bothers with me?
II I Cannot Escape From God
A To be known by God is our highest privilege. Therefore, the most foolish thing we can try to do is to flee from God. As Jonah found out, it just cannot be done. There is no adequate hiding place. We can call for the mountains to fall on us and the hills to cover us (Rev 6:16), but the eye of God can see through mountains and hills. David tells us in verses 7-12 that there is no escape from our all-seeing and all-knowing God.
B Verse 7. "Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?" How many times we have asked that of ourselves: Lord, how can I get away from you? Is there any way in my guilt that I can escape You?
Verse 8. This is the psalmist's answer. "If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there." No place can separate me from the fact of God. If I go to heaven, God is there, of course. And even though I go to hell, I still will not escape God. Of course, other Scriptures make clear that there is a vast difference between the experience of God for one who is in heaven and for one who is in hell. In heaven we shall experience to the full the love, compassion, glory and warmth of God. In hell it is the other way around -- there men experience the wrath of God; but, it is still God that they experience, that is the point. God owns and runs His universe and there is no escaping His presence.
Verses 9 & 10. The writer goes on to say that no distance can separate him from God. "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." What do you think he means by the "wings of the dawn"? This is a beautifully poetic expression. If you have ever watched the sun come up you will have noticed how the rays of the rising sun shoot swiftly across the sky and reach to the farthest corners of the horizon. This is what the psalmist is describing. If I could travel with the wings of the morning and reach to the farthest points of earth, even there, he says, I would find you Lord. You have gone before me, have preceded me, and I will find you there as much as here.
I have a book on the Dutch immigration to Canada after World War II. In the book I read of a mother who was crying as her children were leaving because she was sure they would no longer be with God. Her children assured her God is even in Canada.God is everywhere. That is what David is saying.
Verses 11 & 12. The psalmist cries out that not even darkness can separate him from God. 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." Remember when you were little how you tried to hide from your parents by crawling under the covers, or by hiding under the bed or in the closet? You thought that your parents could not see you because you could not see them. There are many grownups who are still trying to do that. They feel that if they do not think about certain things then God will not think about them either. But He does. No darkness, physical or mental, can hide us from God's presence. He knows us and sees us no matter how dark it is. Paul reminded the Athenians that God is not far from any one of us (Acts 17:27-28). Whether we know Him or not, He is but a touch away.
How near is God to me? He even sees me in the womb. Listen to verses 15 & 16: "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."
III God Judges Us
A "O Lord, you have searched me and you know me" (Ps 139:1). God knows us. God sees us. There is no escape from this God.
The message of the Bible is that someday our all-knowing, all-seeing God will come in judgment. David has this judgment in mind in verses 19-22. Listen to what he says: "If only you would slay the wicked, O God! Away from me, you bloodthirsty men! (20) They speak of you with evil intent; your adversaries misuse your name. (21) Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD, and abhor those who rise up against you? (22) I have nothing but hatred for them; I count them my enemies." David so identifies with God that God's enemies become his enemies and David prays for their judgment.
Speaking of judgment, we know that someday our all-knowing, all-seeing God will call on every person to account for everything in his or her life (2 Cor 5:10). We must account for our deeds, our words, and even our thoughts (Rev 20:12; Mat 12:36; 1 Cor 4:5).
B Every person has one of two different reactions to this teaching that our God knows all things and sees all things and that there is no escaping Him. The first reaction is fear. Think of Adam and Eve in the garden. When first put there by God they were both naked and unashamed. After the fall into sin, however, they both tried to cover up. They were naked and ashamed and tried to hide from God. With sin came fear of our all-knowing, all-seeing God.
For unbelievers nothing is more dreadful than the thought of being completely known and seen by God. The pagan does not want God to look at him; he wants God to overlook him. He spends all his life looking over his shoulder, scared and afraid. In one of his proverbs King Solomon says, "The wicked man flees though no one pursues" (Prov 28:1a). Martin Luther puts it another way: "The pagan trembles at the rustling of a leaf." What is he afraid of? He is afraid of God; he's afraid of an omniscient God Who knows and sees everything; he's afraid of an omniscient God Who calls man to account for every deed, every word, and every thought. He is afraid of a God he cannot escape or hide from.
C The believer, on the other hand, does not fear that everything is known by God. Listen to what David says in verses 17 & 18:
(Ps 139:17-18) How precious to me are your thoughts, O 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.Why does David talk this way? Why does David delight in the thoughts and knowledge of God? Because David knows this: Yes, God knows us as we really are; He knows the wickedness of our deeds and words and thoughts; yet, God still loves and accepts us in Jesus Christ. What comfort and solace. I doubt if any person would accept us as we are if they really knew everything about us. But God, He knows everything and still loves and accepts us in Christ. You see, God looks at us poor, miserable sinners through the cloak of Christ's righteousness. In and through and because of Christ, God sees us as being righteous and pure and holy. And, in the Final Judgment God will reveal everything there is to know about me, all my filth and dirt He will lay out in the open for everyone to see; but even that doesn't scare me because this will all be revealed as FORGIVEN SINS, as sins covered by the blood of Christ.
D Once we realize that God in Christ is for us and not against us, then our natural fear of His all-knowing, all-seeing gaze disappears. Once we realize that God is for us and not against us, then we, with David, will invite God's scrutiny:
(Ps 139:23-24) Search me, O 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.David asked God to search him out, to put him under the divine searchlight. David did not do this arrogantly, daring God to find anything wrong. On the contrary, David knew that God would find wicked ways in his heart. But David wanted to be washed and cleansed not only of sins he was aware of but also of secret, unknown sins within the depth of his heart. David welcomed the gaze of God because he knew God's children are cleansed when they experience God's scrutiny.
"O Lord, you have searched me and you know me" (Ps 139:1). God knows you. God sees you. There is no escaping God.
But now let me ask -- do you know God and Christ Jesus Whom He sent?
I don't know about your relationship with God but let me tell you this: if you don't know Christ as your Lord and Savior, then God will send you to hell for sins He sees in you; but if you do know Christ as your Lord and Savior, then God will forgive the sins He sees in you.
Our highest and greatest privilege in life is to be known by God. The only question is, do you also know God and Christ Jesus Whom He sent?
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