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. —Psalm 139:1-3
Somewhere around the age of 21, I discovered King David’s Psalm 139. I chose it for a speech class. What started out as homework, turned into a life-changing experience. You will discover this for yourself in memorizing it.
At that time, my life radiated question marks. Psalm 139 did not make them “poof” and disappear. But seen through the lens of this Psalm, they did seem to twinkle, star-like, as if they were excited to be there and ready to burst into an answer when the master of the universe said so.
This is the gift that Psalm 139 gives to those who lay hold of it. The all-knowing, ever-present, holy God knows me and has a holy plan for my life. I need only ask. The Psalm begins by declaring, “O Lord, You have searched me and known me” (v. 1). It ends with an earnest plea: “Search me, O God, and know my thoughts and see if there be any wicked way in me: and lead me in the way everlasting.”
The first two stanzas will make you perceive bigger and more amazing thoughts of God than you have ever thought before. You will never again be able to chew gum and worship. Seeing him for who he really is will make your jaw drop with trembling wonder.
In addition, you will be less anxious about your future as you memorize this Psalm. In the third stanza, David goes back in time to the very beginning of his life. Look at God’s attentive direct work of creating little ol’ you! Surely God’s design in knitting together the totipotent (having the potential for developing in various specialized ways in response to external or internal stimuli) cells that made you a distinct, living and whole human being, continues. In Christ, and through faith in him, God is working out his purposes.
Finally, this Psalm drives you to stand with God in his righteousness and justice. David moves forward in time. He writes as if he is standing with God on the great day of judgment. At that time, the exceeding sinfulness of sin will be apparent and the terrible judgments of the Lord will appear right and good.
The opening verses reveal how thorough is God’s watch-care over your life (v.1). I say “watch-care” because he is watching, but it’s not disinterested observation. It’s careful attention. So much so that he takes note of even incidental things, like your sitting down and getting up (v. 2a). He so thoroughly watches over you that he sees your thoughts even before they arrive in your mind (v 2b). He watches over the beginning and end of your day—your going out to work and coming home to rest (v. 3a). He is acquainted with the peculiarities of your personality. He sees how your past experiences affect your present life. He is familiar with the jumble of ambitions and fears, hopes and dreams that rumble around inside you. More examples of His thorough watch-care follow in verses 4-6.