Daily Family Worship

Psalm 139: Fearfully and Wonderfully Made!

by | Jul 6, 2024

psalm 139

This Psalm is one of the sublimest compositions in the world! How did it come to pass that a humble shepherd boy could conceive such a sublime theme, and write in such a sublime strain? He, like other holy men of God, spoke as he was moved by the Holy Spirit. What themes are more sublime than the Divine attributes? And which of these attributes is more sublime than omnipresence? Omniscience, infinity, immutability, and eternity are necessarily included in it.

David first sings of Divine omniscience (verses 1-6). He multiplies his poetical expressions to indicate the completeness of God’s knowledge of him. Whether he is at rest or in motion, in every posture and state, the Lord knows him. And not only does He know his outward acts, but even the very thoughts from which they spring are immediately discerned. Nothing can escape Jehovah’s eye, for He is “behind and before” man (verse 5) – that is, on all sides of him. His hand is upon him to restrain and control. This paragraph closes with a frank confession of the writer’s impotence and awe. He cannot comprehend the Lord’s omnipresence – which is not at all strange, for how can the finite ever comprehend the infinite? Nevertheless, he knows and feels it; and he bows in reverence before the sublime truth.

Next, in verses 7-12, the Psalmist dwells on the subject of Divine omnipresence. God is everywhere; He is transcendent. This thought is expanded and enforced by its application to all measures of space. If man could climb to the top of the azure skies overhead, it would only confront him with the Divine personality; if he were to sound unimaginable depths in the other direction, the result would be the same. If a man mounted on “wings of the morning,” and pursued the farthest flight westward; if he could fly with the same swiftness as the first rays of the morning shoot from one end of the heavens to the other – he still would not get beyond the Divine presence! Beyond the sea, and far out of the sight of man, God’s hand would still lead him and grasp him.

Then we are presented with a view of God’s omnipotence in the creation of man (verses 13-18). In the singer’s mind, he dwells upon the secret processes of a child’s birth and development in the mother’s womb; and as he does so, his gratitude overflows into praise! He sees how he has been made differently from everything else that the Lord has created. It is an awe-inspiring distinction! The consideration of this single case leads David to the general statement that all God’s works are marvelous – a statement which he reaffirms as from an experimental conviction of its truth. And then he immediately returns to the thought of the curious growth and unfolding of an unborn human being. It goes on in secret, as far from human vision as if it were deep down in some subterraneous cavern; but the Lord sees it, and He directs the mysterious and complicated process as if it were a piece of delicate embroidery. It is invisible to any other eye, but it is open to His gaze; and He determines all subsequent development of the child. He records, in His book, all the various events and changes of his life – before a single one of them existed. Being struck by this view of God’s omniscience, as embracing the beginning and unfolding and completion of all things; the singer bursts out into a recognition of its value! To him, the Lord’s thoughts – that is, His plans and purposes, as displayed in these miracles of creation – are precious beyond measure! Nor are they few or slight; rather, they amount to a vast sum – more numerous than the sands of the sea! They are always before the Psalmist’s mind, as an object of adoring wonder – not by day only, but also by night; and not merely in the watches of the night, but even in his sleep!

What is the practical application of all this? (verses 19-24) The nearer that any man comes in his relationship and communion with his God, the more intense is his abhorrence of the impiety which disowns or despises Him. Nor does such a feeling indicate malice or ill-will. When a foul crime has been committed, even tender-hearted Christian women – who would not harm a hair of their enemy’s head, but would rather feed him – will express keen resentment and restlessness in mind, until they hear that the perpetrator has been convicted and properly punished. But see the striking conclusion of this paragraph! The inspired poet returns to the opening words of the Psalm; and he prays for a new experience of Jehovah’s searching scrutiny, so that he may not be given over to self-conceit. The petition is a proof of humility. Although he had so strongly declared his aversion to the wicked, he prays that this may be no merely outward separation. The All-seeing Eye may detect in him some way that leads to sin and sorrow, even though he is unconscious of it. Hence he entreats the Lord to see and disclose it, and to take his hand and lead him in a way which – unlike the way of the wicked (Ps. 1:6) – does not perish, but ends in everlasting life!

Lord Jehovah, we praise You as the Omniscient, Omnipresent, and Omnipotent God Who still condescends to take notice of all the littles of our little world. Thank You for the consolation that the thought of Your Divine omniscience gives to us; for You are always thinking upon us, You never turn aside Your mind from us, and You have us always before Your eyes! Amen.

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