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  • Writer's pictureCandice Watters

Known and Loved (Psalm 139:1-3)

O LORD, you have searched me and known me! ²You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. ³You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. —Psalm 139:1-3

Recently I was meeting with a friend at her kitchen table. As we talked, her eyes kept wandering to a small screen propped up beside her Bible. She was watching her baby nap. She had laid her down, and now, even though her infant daughter was a room away and we were separated by walls, she could see her every toss and turn.

As much as we moms want to watch over our children, we are not like God. He sees without limits. He is far off and close at hand (Jeremiah 23:23-24, Isaiah 30:19-21). He knows everything about us–from our creation; to every daily decision, thought, and action; to the way–and when–we’ll die. 

God’s intimate knowledge of those He has made in His image leads David to rejoice. He exults in being known by God, and not only not destroyed, but loved. In a culture that tells us how awesome we are, these opening verses could rush past us as incidental. Of course God takes notice of me, some might think, I’m special. 

David’s psalm is written by a man who knows that next to God, he is low. Elsewhere he asks, “what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” (Psalm 8:4). In Psalm 22:6 he stoops lower, “But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by mankind and despised by the people.” Not even the king is lofty compared to the One who is “enthroned on the praises of Israel” (Psalm 22:3).

Yet David marvels at man’s exalted place in creation. “ have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet” (Psalm 8:5-6).  

How can we be both low and high? We have glory, but it’s like the moon’s brilliance from  the sun. Our honor is derivative. God’s image in us is what’s praiseworthy. Lest we become proud, God reminds us that we are “jars of clay” (2 Corinthians 4:7) formed by the Potter’s hand (Isaiah 45:9) for the purpose He chooses (vessels for glory and for wrath, Romans 9:21-23). In God’s wisdom, unremarkable pots are tasked with holding the most remarkable treasure. 

David views himself humbly, and God as exalted. He marvels that God takes such an intimate, thorough interest in his comings and goings. God knew and discerned every one of David’s thoughts, good and evil. If verses 1-3 were all that David wrote, they would leave us trembling in fear. Who could stand before a Holy God who has known our every action, habit, and thought? We would be left to say with Isaiah, “Woe is me, for I am ruined”utterly lost and without hope (see Isaiah 6:5).

But we are not without hope. When Paul wrote, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” He had a glorious answer in Jesus Christ (Romans 7:24-25). Because of Jesus we can be known by God and loved! This is no small thing. John Piper says, “Being known by God has deep, transforming effects upon the human heart. Namely, it produces love for God.” For those to whom God gives the gift of faith, “Being known by God…[is] the root of knowing God in a saving way.” (What does it Mean to Be Known by God?)

By faith, David is not terrified of being known by Godthe God who is high and lifted up, infinite, and holy, holy, holy. This God takes notice of him, and us! He searches out our paths. He knows our ways. May God’s knowledge of us open our hearts to His love for us. And may we, like David, fear, tremble, and rejoice.


For Reflection

  1. How does it make you feel to know that God is intimately acquainted with all of your ways?

  2. God already knows the details of your life, including your sin. How should this cause you to respond to Him when you stumble?

  3. Meditate on the wonder that the star-breathing, sea-filling, earth-forming God takes notice of His creatures, those “He made a little lower than that heavenly beings,” and give Him praise.


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


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