Psalm 139 – Delight In Being Known
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Most children I know love the game of hide-and-seek. My own children love finding places to hide in our apartment, or love returning to spots that they have worked out to stump each other. The joy in the game is not just the hiding, nor the seeking, but in the anticipation of being found. Children want to play the game because they want to be discovered. They delight in finding a good spot to sit and wait, but they delight even more in being sought after by whichever sibling, parent, or friend they have pulled into their game.
It is this delight at being found—being known, being discovered—which the Psalmist expresses in Psalm 139. The LORD has searched and known the author (verse 1). The LORD is familiar with all his ways (verse 3). So intimate is this knowledge that there is nowhere that they can go which is outside of God’s knowing presence (verse 7).
Whether in the heavens or in the depths (verse 8), to the far east or the far west (verse 9), even in the deepest of darkness, the LORD is always there. His presence never leaves, his knowledge of our thoughts, words and actions never ceases.
For some, this all-knowing, intimate presence of the LORD, may cause distress. There may be those who seek to hide from God, like Jonah running away to Tarshish (Jonah 1:3). If we are delighting in sin, seeking pleasure in evil pursuits, ignoring the Spirit’s promptings, and hoping that no consequence, guilt or shame will result from such actions, we are badly mistaken. This Psalm acts as a warning that nothing is unknown to God.
However, this is not the tone explicit in the Psalm. The Psalmist himself is rejoicing in the omnipotence (all knowing) and omnipresence (ever present) of the LORD.
The reason for such rejoicing is because the Psalmist knows that the LORD is for him. The LORD’s presence is an active presence that protects and guides (v.5). It is a knowledge due to the LORD’s active work of creation (verses 13-16) that continues in praise for who God has made him to be (verse 14). No wonder the Psalmist considers God’s thoughts “precious” (verse 17). It is these thoughts and this active presence, that have created and sustained the author from conception to the present. And with such a track record, there is no reason to doubt that this protective care will continue.
But then the Psalm takes a dark turn. From praising God for the joy of his all-knowing and all-present character, the Psalmist then asks that God slay the wicked (verse 19) and affirms his hatred of those who hate God (verses 21-22). However, while the tone of the Psalm has changed, the subject matter has not. It is because of God’s omnipotence and omnipresence that he is completely and perfectly aware of the actions and thoughts, not only of the righteous, but also of the wicked. There are those who hate God and wish ill upon God’s people. While we are not called to pick up our weapons (whether physical, cultural, or verbal) to fight back, it is right to turn our anguish to prayers for God to enact justice. Not for our name’s sake, but for his own (verse 21).
Today, as one who trusts in the Lordship of the risen Christ, you can be assured of this same active presence of God. There is nothing that is unknown and nowhere you can hide. And this is good news. Because God is for you. Paul’s words in Romans 8 remind us about both these great truths:
“…we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose…in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death not life, neither angels nor demons, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:28-39
The Lift Up Your Hearts devotional series for the month of March 2021 are provided by Canon Craig Roberts, CEO, and his colleagues from Anglican Youthworks in Australia. Today’s devotion was written by The Rev Tim Beilharz, Children’s, Special Religious Education and Boys’ Ministry Advisor, Youthworks Ministry Support. You can find more of Youthworks excellent resources here.
Pray with us today's prayer request:
Online Church. Many churches around the world are meeting online. In the Diocese of João Pessoa, Brazil, Bishop Marcio asks for prayer that members do not become discouraged from meeting only online. The situation about meeting in person is not the same throughout the Anglican Church in Brazil but every area is experiencing restrictions and it is very challenging.
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