Submerged! – Psalm 139
By Pastor Lee Hemen
July 17, 2016
How confident would you be to have someone follow you around for a month and write down everything you did and then publish it online for the entire world to read? Now I know some of you are thinking, “They would be really bored!” Some of you might say, “Who cares?” And then there are those of you who already do this, it is called Facebook and Twitter! Yet even these social media sites are not the same as having someone expose your every waking moment. And what if they included your private thoughts as well? Now that is a whole different matter, isn’t it?
Yet the Psalmist David was willing to have God do this very thing. How in the world could he be that confident with his life? I mean if we read what has been written about David you would think he would have been a bit more circumspect about wanting God to search him and know him. David was not always a nice person nor did he always honor God so how in the world could David ask God to know him in this way? I believe it has to do with how David viewed God, how God views us, and if we are truly willing to be submerged in God!
David understood that if one desires a life that is rich and full in the Lord it must starts with…
I. Knowing that God knows you! (Vv. 1-6)
O LORD, you have searched me 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 know it completely, O LORD. You hem me in–behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.
1. David understood that God was omniscient that is all knowing. God knew David completely just as God knows each of us completely. David writes, “O Lord, you have searched me and know me.” Now this was not some kind of doddering old dude who kind of smiled at David and his mischievous ways, but rather a holy all knowing being who intrinsically knew David thoroughly. God had searched David! Could you say like David that God knows you this way? David says, “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.” Wow! David is readily admitting God’s knowledge of him as if he had scoured every detail of David’s life and thus knew him intimately. In fact, before David spoke, God knew what he would say: “Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD.” How could God know this much about David, because God hemmed David’s life completely! “You hem me in–behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me.” Being known by God is not confining, rather it is freedom for those who love God! This is why David concludes, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.” Being submerged in God begins in knowing that God knows you!
EXAMPLE: In the books by Tolkien we discover an evil presence in the country known as Mordor. Mordor was a black volcanic ash plain located in the southeast of Middle-earth to the East of Gondor surrounded by three mountain ranges. Supposedly there existed an all seeing eye of evil known as Sauron. Sadly, there are those in our day and age who actually see God in this vain; as some all seeing eye who looks for only the bad in people in order to punish them for their impudence. God is nothing like this because for David God was the Creator who knew him intimately and loved him in spite of his personal faults. For David being submerged in God began with knowing that God knows you!
There are those of us who fool ourselves into thinking that God is not aware of every area of our lives, this is simply not true. If one wants to be submerged in God David relates it begins with…
II. Knowing you cannot go where God is not! (Vv. 7-12)
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.
1. After stating what he did about God searching him completely, David laments the same accusations those who are caught in sin often do, they begin to blame God! David asks, “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?” Of course the answer is nowhere because God is everywhere: “If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.” While we may want to escape God’s presence in our lives the truth is we cannot, ever. There are those who think that by running away into deeper sin, they can escape God; just like the prodigal son thought. Surprise, God is already there waiting for you! In his hypothetical assertions David knew that heaven is not too big for God nor is death, Sheol below. My mother used to quip, “You have to get up pretty early to fool God!” Of course she meant you could never get up that early and David understood this as well, he writes, “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.” No matter where we try to flee into sin or where we fall into sin, God is there. His calming, protecting, and strong “hand will hold” us “fast”. Trying to escape into further sin does not hide a person from God’s presence: “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.” David knew that we are already submerged in God! This understanding comes in knowing you cannot go where God is not!
EXAMPLE: Jesus would later tell his disciples that God loved the world so much that he sent his Son to die for them! And that in fact if they believed this then no one could snatch them from the Father’s hand because he and the Father were one and the same. Jesus is God. Just as God understood the Israelite’s plight in Egypt, just as he understood David’s weaknesses, he understood ours and sent his Son to redeem us! David would rejoice and declare, “If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.” This was a comfort to David in that knowing one cannot go where God is not!
In today’s world there are those who falsely think they are not accountable to anyone; so much so that their view of the sacredness of life has been lost. They do not care what they do with their lives and so they do not care what they do to others. David knew this was not true because being submerged in God begins in…
III. Knowing God created us! (Vv. 13-17)
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, O God! How vast is the sum of them!
1. For David God was unknowable because he was God. He was always present, he was all knowing, and he had always existed. And as David looked at what Moses and others taught about God with his own experiences with the Lord, David could only say, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” God knew all about David when he created him in his mother’s womb. As David pondered this he could readily say, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Every person has value and each of us is unique to God because he has made us so! David knew this “full well”, completely because of what he understood about God. David realized that his “frame”, his body, was not hidden from [God] when [he] was made in the secret place”. All life is sacred because God sees us as “wonderful” and each of us are “wonderfully made”! God has “woven” us all “together in the depths of the earth”; the idea is one of being embroidered or knit by God’s own hand. Of course this is metaphoric but David wanted to emphasize God’s creative nature and his individual love for us because when this occurred God “saw [David’s] unformed body”! Added to this that God knew “All the days ordained” for David and they “were written in [God’s] book before one of them came to be”! This therefore led David to conclude, “How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!” Knowing God created us!
EXAMPLE: As we study more and more about the world and creation around us we learn that there is great knowledge at work. From the chromosomes in our DNA, from the smallest cells to the largest animal ever existed we find the handiwork of a wonderful being at work. An all knowing God knows his creation. Just as an artist knows each work they lovingly sweated over, agonized through, and joyously presented. David understood that if we wanted to know God more and be submerged in him it begins with knowing God created us!
David was far from perfect but we know that David was a man after God’s own heart. If you want to be submerged in the Lord as David was…
IV. You must know God! (Vv. 18-24)
Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with you. If only you would slay the wicked, O God! Away from me, you bloodthirsty men! They speak of you with evil intent; your adversaries misuse your name. Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD, and abhor those who rise up against you? I have nothing but hatred for them; I count them my enemies. Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
1. Knowing God created him led David to conclude that the Lord’s plans for his people are most precious and in fact those plans are infinite so David concludes that “Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand.” Just as Paul would one day understand that for him to “live is Christ or to die is gain”, David finally realized that “When I awake, I am still with you.” Whether he was alive or dead, God was there. Yet David incorrectly concludes that if God is there with him and knows him, then why doesn’t he destroy those who personally hate him? David laments, “If only you would slay the wicked, O God!” Rightly so David wanted nothing to do with evil people and he cries, “Away from me, you bloodthirsty men!” And if they were his enemies weren’t they also God’s enemies? David tells God, “They speak of you with evil intent; your adversaries misuse your name.” While David understood God loved him, he misunderstood God’s nature. If the enemies of the Israelites enslaved them and tried to get them to worship pagan gods, God was jealous and would respond; but often God allowed his people to be punished for their own sin. This is why, like a petulant child David whines, “Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD, and abhor those who rise up against you?” Yes, David did, but David was just as guilty of his sin even though he declared, “I have nothing but hatred for them; I count them my enemies.” Like many of us David is tacitly bargaining with God. It does not work. I believe David knew this to be true and in the midst of his lamenting, he realizes his condition and openly confesses to God, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” If one wants to be completely submerged in God, bargaining with him never works. Only open and honest confession does. David understood that you must know God!
EXAMPLE: I find it kind of humorous that there are those who call themselves atheist, meaning “no god”, yet they are so concerned that others would believe there is a God. Of course they will say they do not want others to live in the ignorance of believing a myth. Yet if this “myth” is true, what then? And hasn’t this “myth”, by their definition not mine, has in fact created a far better world? Of course they would try to tout the wars or evil done in the name of religion and would want you to forget all about the horrendous things done by mankind in the name of science or humanism. Where racial, political, or societal genocide was endorsed, millions slaughtered through abortion, and whole populations unknowingly experimented on in the name of science and knowledge. Only when one is honest about their nature can one understand the true nature of God. It begins with asking, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” To be submerged in God one must know God!
To be fully submerged in God it begins in: Knowing that God knows you! Knowing you cannot go where God is not! Knowing God created us! You must know God!
This article is copyrighted © 2016 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.