A God-centered Perspective
By Dan Qurollo
In his book, The Knowledge of the Holy, author A.W. Tozer made this accurate observation: “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us” (The Knowledge of the Holy, Kindle). Our ideas of God are not merely theological ideas that are removed from reality; rather, they are the ideas that enable the right living. What we believe about God is foundational to our Christian life.
Psalm 139 brings us face to face with the reality of who God is and is arguably one of the grandest psalms with the book of Psalms. It is a psalm that emphasizes theology in practice and represents the journey of the psalmist who begins with reality and ends with a prayer. What he learned about God removed his sense of self-dependence and caused him to fully rely upon the God with whom he came face to face. The more we learn about God, the less dependent upon ourselves we will be.
Psalm 139 consists of four stanzas, each stanza consisting of six verses. I believe the structure of the psalm leads from the reality of God’s knowledge to a plea for God’s searching. When one considers the greatness of God, the natural response is to flee. David identifies the futility of fleeing and embraces the reality of God’s knowledge and pleas for God to search him.
In 139:1-6, David emphasized God’s omniscience and emphasizes the reality that God knows me. His knowledge is thorough, complete, and always accurate (139:1). He knows every detail (139:2a), thought (139:2b), activity (139:3), and every word (139:6), even the thoughts that form the words. As David concluded this stanza, he burst out, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.” The extensive and perfect knowledge that God has of David is too wonderful for him. It is too high for David and is therefore unattainable and incomprehensible.
In the second stanza, David emphasizes God’s omnipresence (139:7-12). God is always everywhere present equally and entirely. Therefore, I can be assured God is with me. As David began this section of Scripture, he asked the question, “Whither shall I go from thy spirit?” Having reasoned that there is nothing in our lives absent from the knowledge of God, David began to ponder the futility of escaping God’s presence. If he were to attempt to flee God’s presence, his effort would be futile because His presence is universal (139:7-8) and inescapable (139:9-10). David also identified the futility of hiding, for the darkness is light to God (139:11-12).
In Psalm 139:13-18, David emphasized God’s omnipotence, a term meaning God is all-powerful. David was clear: God designed me. Our design is sovereignly planned (139:13-14), intricately detailed (139:15-16), and infinitely vast (139:17-18). The sum of thoughts of God directed towards man is vast. He regards them as totaling a great sum in verse 17 and a number unable to be determined in verse 18. In fact, if David were to attempt to counter these thoughts, they would exceed the grains of sand.
Finally, David emphasized God’s holiness in 139:19-24 where we learn God compels me. God’s response to the wickedness of man is emphasized in this passage as he considers it from God’s perspective (139:19-20) and man’s perspective (139:21-24). God will not tolerate wickedness, nor will He excuse those who disdain Him. Those striving to live holy lives align themselves with God’s values and welcome God’s searching for their lives. Rather than attempting to flee, embrace God’s evaluation and pray “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts. And see if there be any wicked way in me.”