You have searched me, Lord , and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord , know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 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. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand— when I awake, I am still with you. – Psalm 139:1-18
There is so much I really like about this Psalm…it is a both scary and amazing that God knows and cares for me this deeply. This Psalm is a very familiar one to many, but I will confess I have not read it carefully and prayerfully until now. God knows me! Despite knowing all of the things that I think are deep dark secrets in my soul He loves me anyway. I am with the author of this Psalm “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me”.
He knows about both our outer lives that others can see “when I sit and when I rise” and the hidden inner life of our souls “my thoughts from afar”. There does not appear to be any distinction between these two parts of what we call “ourselves” for God. While we are on this earth we are mind, body, spirit. We cannot escape God even if we wanted to get away from Him. The interesting part of this spiritual dynamic is that God still allows us the free will to choose not to be with Him even though He is always with us and knows us.
Many people try to hide from God just as Adam and Eve did in the Garden after they had eaten from the Tree that God forbade them to eat. We can run from God both in our outer lives and our inner lives. Running from God in our inner lives can be invisible to those around us. A person could be a regular church attender and even a leader in the church, but inside they are trying to hide part or all of their inner life from God. This blog is in some ways an attempt to reconcile the inner and outer parts of my life — joining the daily life I lead as a scientist, husband, father, and professor to my spiritual pursuit of God (and his pursuit of me).
Running from God can lead to destructive patterns of addiction and broken relationships. This Psalm assures us that no matter how far we try to move away from God He is still there waiting for us when we turn around and seek His face. Even “if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast”. God stands by our side ready to take our hand to help us even when we stubbornly stand with our hands firmly planted in our pockets unwilling to yield.
Prayer: God thank You for walking next to us and extending your hand so we can take it when we need You most.