top of page
  • Writer's pictureCandice Watters

God’s Infinite Thoughts (Psalm 139:17-18)

How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! ¹⁸If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you. —Psalm 139:17-18

In the first 16 verses of Psalm 139, David marvels at all of the ways God knows him. Now, in verse 17, he pivots to declare the value of such knowledge to him. If you read just this week’s passage you might think David is saying he knows what God is thinking. But he’s not celebrating God's thoughts generally. We need the verses that have gone before to know which thoughts of God David counts as precious. Verses 1-6 and 16 are statements about God’s thoughts toward David—about some of the activity of God’s mind toward one man. And David says they are vastmore than the sand. That’s a lot of thoughts!

I’ve heard people say that if you can’t sleep, count sheep. It's hard to imagine how that would help, but the principle is useful. Imagine the shepherd, David, drifting off to sleep under the stars. Might he have been counting God’s thoughts toward him? When I can’t sleep at night, I often go through the letters of the alphabet, thinking about a verse with an initial that matches each one. (A-All we like sheep have gone astray… and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all; B-Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved; C-Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest; etc.) Rarely do I get past M before I fade into slumber, encouraged by the truths of God’s promises.

In verse 17, David is marveling at God’s thoughts toward him and the vast number of them. Then, in verse 18, we see him waking up to find he is still with Godin His thoughts. In his commentary Psalms, W. S. Plumer says, “With his mind occupied with these ‘thoughts’ of God, [David] lay down to sleep at night, and when he awoke, finding that God was still pouring mercies upon him, he resumed the theme of his reflections.” It’s as if he’s saying in verse 18, “These are my last thoughts when I lie down, and my first when I rise.” (1164) 

When David calls God’s thoughts “precious” he isn’t referring to God’s thoughts about everything but, rather, God’s thoughts toward him. And all of these divine thoughtsGod’s knowing of David’s ways and words and days, the thoughts reviewed in the previous 16 versesare vast. Verse 17 helps us glimpse God’s infinitudeif his thoughts toward David, one man, are as the sand on the shore, how many must be all of God’s thoughts! They’re beyond counting. 

What human mind can know the number of God’s thoughts toward all of His creation the more than eight billion people on earth at present, the infinite stars, all of the fish, every atom. Well did Paul ask rhetorically, “who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” (Romans 11:34) God not only knows it all, He not only made it all, but He conceived of it all with His mind. God’s thoughts became God's word that spoke God’s world into existence.

“Wonderful are your works,” David says in verse 14; one of those works being the human ability to ponder and marvel. As much as David has been inspired to think about God’s creation of himself (vv. 13-16), here we see him turn to think about God’s thoughts. David had significantly less knowledge than our generation has of the physical world–no quantum physics, no molecular biology, no internet, and yet he still stands in awe of God’s wonders. In the midst of all our scientific knowing, do we risk losing, or even missing entirely, the wonder of being known and thought of by God? Pondering this Psalm, meditating on it, and memorizing it is a pathway to worship.

We cannot know the mind of the Lord. But we can know what He has revealed to us in HIs Word, the Word that reveals some of what’s in His mind. And the more we know His revelation, the more we’ll be moved, like David, to marvel and worship this wonder-working God.


For Reflection

  1. What do you think about when you can't fall asleep?

  2. How might following David's example of meditating on what God knows about you—your ways, your words, your coming and going, all of your dayschange your perspective on the troubles that keep you awake at night?

  3. Ask God to deepen your wonder at His creativity in creating you and His good plan for completing the good work He's begun in you (Philippians 1:6).


Candice Watters is a wife, mother of four, and author. She edits the Fighter Verses blog in between loads of laundry and planning the upcoming VBS for Clifton Baptist Church in Louisville, KY. She and her husband Steve blog at


Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page