Search Me

Search me, O God, and know my heart; 
test me and know my anxious thoughts. 
Point out anything in me that offends You, 
and lead me along the path of everlasting life.”
Psalms‬ ‭139:23-24‬ ‭NLT‬‬

We must have one last look at this amazing Psalm, Psalm 139. David, the Psalmist, has meditated his way through God’s omnipresence, His blessings and support, the wonder of a new born baby, how God continually thinks about him, and how he hates the wicked and blasphemers. And, finally, he makes an appeal to God to search his heart and expose anxious and offensive thoughts. David, overcome with God-thoughts, finally surfaces to the realities of life but doesn’t want anything to spoil his relational bubble with the Lord. 

In our pilgrimage through life, there will be many opportunities to sit in David’s seat, where we can dwell in God’s presence, soaking in His Spirit, meditating on His love for us with a responsive heart. I often look about me and see God’s hand in His creation, always with thoughts of wonder about the complexity and uniqueness. But then the phone rings, or a text pings the phone. A demanding voice intrudes into my God-space-bubble and before I know it I’m back to the realities of life. In many ways we live a double life, citizens of both the Kingdom of God and kingdom of the world. But regardless of our circumstances we can find time for both. The Apostle John said in Revelation 1:10, “It was the Lord’s Day, and I was worshiping in the Spirit. Suddenly, I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet blast.” Even in his incarceration on the Isle of Patmos, John was spending time in God’s presence; the deprivations of being exiled unable to stop his visit to God’s Kingdom. 

But back to David’s statement, “Search me, O God, and know my heart”. In many ways that’s a dangerous question to ask of God, because He might expose something we would rather not be reminded of. Perhaps a behavioural issue, or unconfessed sin. Perhaps a relationship that needs to be restored. But if we want to spend quality time with God there needs to be total honesty and openness. Nothing can be allowed to get in the way of a relationship with our Creator. David knew that, hence his question. David could see a connection between hiding what he referred to as anxious and offensive thoughts, and preventing God from leading him, unimpeded, along the “path of everlasting life”. That’s the same path we are taking, as pilgrims towards our full-time future in God’s presence. We don’t want anything to get in the way of our journey either. Thankfully, God loves us so much that He isn’t going to dump on us a whole load of difficult to deal with stuff all in one go. So we need to keep praying that prayer, so that God can peel back our layers of “anxious and offensive thoughts”, one by one, helping us deal with the issues, helping us step by step on our journey. Of course He loves us just as we are, but on the other hand, He loves us too much to allow us to forever wallow in an anxious and offensive state. Blocked from the relationship with God that He so earnestly wants us to enjoy. Search us, O God, we pray.

In the Womb

“You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body 
and knit me together in my mother’s womb. 
Thank You for making me so wonderfully complex! 
Your workmanship is marvellous – how well I know it. 
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, 
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. 
You saw me before I was born. 
Every day of my life was recorded in Your book. 
Every moment was laid out 
before a single day had passed.”
Psalms‬ ‭139:13-16‬ ‭NLT‬‬

David, the Psalmist, continues his theme of the omnipresent God in Psalm 139. This time his thoughts extend into the wonders of creation, of how a human being grows before it is born. Even in his day, without the scientific and medical knowledge that we have in the 21st Century, it seemed to be common knowledge that something significant happens in the womb. And he is overwhelmed by how “wonderfully complex” it all is. He uses the phrase “knitted together” to describe what happens. 

My wife is a great knitter. It doesn’t matter how complex the pattern, she manages to produce these amazing garments with nothing more than a pair of needles and ball of wool. And I have been greatly blessed by beautiful jumpers far better than anything mass produced and sold in our shops. But the miracle of how a human being is formed eclipses anything mankind can derive, even my wife. And in some way God watches the processes going on in the womb, working out what was going to happen to this new life. David was overwhelmed by it all.

When I read and meditate on these verses, I immediately marvel at the wonders of creation. I know many believe that all this happened by chance. But I don’t have the faith to believe a baby is the result of evolution. Instead, with the Psalmist, I can only thank our Creator God for His workmanship. And with a thankful heart I look in the mirror to see an amazing created being, fearfully and wonderfully made. Yes, there are facial lines. Yes, there are grey hairs. Yes, ageing takes its toll. But that doesn’t remove the wonder of being “fearfully and wonderfully made“. Which is what we all are. A God-creation, made in His image (Genesis 1:27). Wow!

God Knows Us

“O Lord, You have examined my heart 
and know everything about me.”
‭Psalms‬ ‭139:1‬ ‭NLT‬‬

The thought that God knows everything about us, good and bad, is both comforting and scary at the same time. In the next few verses, the Psalmist, David, goes on to say that God is intimately acquainted with not just what we are doing but even what is about to come out of our mouths. Distance and time are no problem to God. And there is nothing that we can do to escape His presence; should we want to, of course. So if we know all that, why do we get so caught up in doing things that we know would cause God pain? The sins that blight our lives. Actions that are just plain wrong. The Apostle Paul felt that frustration. He wrote in Romans 7, “I have discovered this principle of life – that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong.” Thankfully God forgives us of our sins when we repent. And we allow His life-giving Spirit to lead and guide us, and live within us (Romans 8). 

But back to our Psalm. It gets better and better. The wonder in David’s heart comes out in verse 5, as he remarks that God goes before him and follows him. Can you imagine that? God is there right in front of us, leading the way. Pointing out the pot-holes in life to help us to avoid them. But in case we still stumble and fall, there He is behind us, picking us up and dusting us off. And there’s more – if we look up, there’s His hand of blessing about to touch our heads. It is no wonder that David can’t cope with what it all means, as we read in verse 6. And he continues to meditate on God’s omnipresence, which extends all the way from Heaven to the place the Jews called Sheol (verse 8). And the lovely word picture emerges of David riding “the wings of the morning” and “dwelling by the farthest oceans” (verse 9). And he finishes this section with the thought that God is always there in the dark, because it is light to Him. Perhaps there’s a comforting thought there for people who do have a fear of the dark.

There is an amazing truth in this Psalm. No matter how we view God. No matter if we reject Him and try and run away from Him, He is still there with us. Embracing us. Encouraging us. Blessing us. All because He loves us. So if we’re feeling neglected and unloved today, we are believing a lie. Our enemy, the devil, would want to deprive us of God’s presence and His blessings. But he can’t. We reach out, switching on our God-receptors; switching off our devil-receptors. And because God knows our very thoughts, He will complete the circuit. Connecting us to His throne room. Giving us a glimpse of His wonder. Helping us in our life-pilgrimage, every step of the way.