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. —Psalm 139:4-5
If you don’t believe in the sovereignty of God, what do you do with Psalm 139? It is poetic. It is beautiful. And it’s mind blowing! But is it true? If David somehow overinflated the capabilities and capacities of God throughout this psalm, then it could be neither beautiful nor mind-blowing, only fanciful at best, or evil.
I hope you do believe in the sovereignty of God, but before you say that you do, please consider what David is communicating, namely that God knows the words we speak before we speak them. If the average person speaks approximately 13,000 words a day, and you multiply that number by the world’s population of 7.7 billion, the result is rather staggering: 100,100,000,000,000.
That’s more than one hundred trillion words spoken per day around the globe!
"Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether."
As massive as this number is, and granted we cannot truly grasp it, this does not tap God’s capacities.
I don’t know of any studies on the average number of times a person sits down and rises up each day, but add that to His capabilities, not to mention that He discerns our thoughts from afar, He knows all of our ways (and days), and He knows the number of hairs on our heads. Is it any wonder that David concludes, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, it is high, I cannot attain it” (Psalm 139:6)?
To the one who says that there is no God (Psalm 14:1): I get it. It is no wonder that the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing. If God doesn’t open their eyes to see Him for who He is, they will simply dismiss His capabilities as foolishness.
At the Feast of Dedication, Jews gathered around Jesus and said, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly” (John 10:24). In response, Jesus says, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish,” (John 10:27-28a).
Psalm 139 fleshes out this idea of the depth at which Jesus “knows” us. Be amazed with me at the vastness and immeasurability of God’s capabilities, and be amazed that Jesus intimately knows each soul.
And consider that even though He knows our words, our thoughts, and our actions, more amazingly He loves us anyway! On my best days, I wouldn’t want many of my 13,000 words (let alone my thoughts) to be publicly replayed.
"...but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8).
Surely “such knowledge is too wonderful for me” to grasp!
Believer, God has you. He is protecting you. He is “hemming in” your soul. He is laying His good and precious hands on you! Praise be to God and His glorious Son Jesus Christ!
If you have yet to embrace Jesus’s work on the cross for you, may God open your eyes through His Word to give you faith! He is more than you can imagine!
What are some implications of this passage? Have you taken time to grasp them? I encourage you to set aside 5 minutes (or a whole day) to think and consider each life-changing one.
Are you sobered by the reality that God knows all of your words, thoughts, and actions?
If our salvation relied on our abilities, how could we stand? Spend some time rehearsing the preciousness of the gospel.
In the midst of difficult situations and circumstances, how can verse 6 help you endure, and even move you “to count it all joy” (James 1:2)?