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Psalm 139 - ESV - Search Me, O God, and Know My Heart

1    O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
2    You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
3    You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
4    Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
5    You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
6    Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it.
7    Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
8    If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
9    If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10    even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me.
11    If I say, "Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light about me be night,"
12    even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with you.
13   For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
14    I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my s##oul knows it very well.
15    My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16    Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.
17    How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18    If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
I awake, and I am still with you.
19    Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God!
O men of blood, depart from me!
20     They speak against you with malicious intent;
your enemies take your name in vain.
21    Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord?
And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?
22    I  hate them with complete hatred;
I count them my enemies.
23    Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
24    And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!


Devotional thoughts from Paul Bowman


When I was a kid it seemed like my Mum really did have eyes in the back of her head.  There were times when it seemed like she could see right through me!  
And to be honest it was really inconvenient, especially when I was up to no good… somehow without even looking she always knew and I would be busted.  

But isn’t it true that sometimes you are relieved when someone can see right through you?   Such as the doctor who can examine you and discover what is wrong, or the friend who can see that you are hurting, or the parent or carer who knows exactly what you need.

Yes, sometimes we do want someone to see right through us.  It all depends on who is doing the looking.  

In Psalm 139 we meet someone who really can see right through us.  Look at vs. 1-6.  Do something God sees it, say something, God hears it, think something, God knows it!  
What do you think about the fact that God knows you completely? 

We struggle to understand how God can do this.  David the author of this Psalm couldn’t understand it either, in v6 he says, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high I cannot attain it.” 

What we are required to do is to have faith.  To believe and trust that God knows our name, our heart, and all about us.  But I imagine some people might find this very idea uncomfortable.  I think it stems from the misconception that God is a bit like a cosmic snoop who invades our privacy and is simply waiting for us to mess up so he can punish us.  But that is not the picture that the Bible presents of God at all.  

In Psalm 139 you discover a God who knows everything about you.  But he knows you because he loves you.  He sees you at your worst and still loves you, and that is the most amazing thing of all about God’s grace.  
Read vs. 7-12 and we discover that not only does God know everything, but also that God is everywhere!  No matter where you go you cannot get away from this all knowing God.

Now look at vs. 13-16.  These verses reveal how God knows everything about you.  They answer the question why are you?  And the answer is you are fearfully and wonderfully made by God – created on purpose, with love! 
And this brings us to one more important question, what are you?  

What are you?  You are valuable, completely unique and unrepeatable. Take a look at your fingerprints, they are totally unique – that’s why police use them to identify people.  Take a close up look at your eye in a mirror.  Again, totally unique and individual to you. That’s why some places have retina scans to give access into secure areas. 
Knowing that you’ve been designed uniquely should help you realise your great value.  
Sometimes we might feel worthless due to circumstances in our lives or personal failures, but that is not what we are.  To God our value never changes, however we might think about ourselves or however other people might view us. 

Psalm 139 reveals that God is intimately involved in your life,   One definition of the word intimacy that I really like is “Into-Me-See,” …the idea of letting someone else see inside of you.  God wants to be an intimate part of our lives and for us to have this desire to be as close to Him as He wants to be with us. 

When we understand that God knows everything about us,  and that He is for us then we don’t have to be afraid of his gaze.  We can say with David “Search me, O God and know my heart!  Try me and know my thoughts!  And see if there be any grievous way in me and lead me in the way everlasting!” (Ps 139:23-24).

David was not perfect, he had experienced some amazing highs in his relationship with God, but he also had known some terrible lows.  He knew God would find grievous ways in his heart, and he needed forgiveness.  But David saw God’s knowledge of him as the way God could transform his life for the better.

Fix Psalm 139 in your head and heart today.  It tells you who you are, and what you are.  It reminds you that God knows you intimately, and he wants you to have an “into-me-see” relationship with him.  

Paul has been a youth worker for over 25 years, and is convinced it is the best job in the world!  He is the Youth Director in Fitzroy Presbyterian Church, Belfast.  His greatest accomplishments are being a husband to Val and a Dad to Erin, Talitha and Selah.