Psalm 139

Know Me, O God
Jeff Cribbs

Read Psalm 139

Examine me, God, and discover my heart. Psalm 139

Four sections in this 24-verse psalm capture our individual relationship to the all-knowing, ever-present, all-powerful God. Each section is worthy of study and reflection. David’s psalm is beautifully poetic in all Bible translations. I quote from Eugene Peterson’s translation, “The Message,” for my reflection. 

God knows who I am. “I’m an open book to you” (v.1)

I imagine walking into a room filled with everyone I know and wondering who it is they see as I enter. Do my roles in my family, work, friendships, church, and community define me differently? Do I hide behind those roles?  It is humbling and reassuring to know God sees me for who I am. It is also freeing to contemplate and attempt to live into the life God calls me to live. 

God is everywhere in my life. “Is there anywhere I can go to avoid your Spirit? To be out of your sight?” (v.7)

It is the human condition not to see God’s presence. From challenges in my life to the daily news now dominated by war and death, anger and separation from God can come too easily. Yet God’s presence is not unlike the feeling I have as a parent and grandparent to love and be a haven for those closest to me, particularly in difficult circumstances. Or the close friendships that support and provide meaning to my life in our church community. 

God created me. “Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; … I am marvelously made! (v.13)

Perhaps even more relevant in today’s social media-obsessed culture of comparison and envy, I find comfort in these verses. God made me and equipped me to live my life. Being humble before God and resolute in the face of external pressure can help me overcome challenges and insecurities in living a life worthy of God. 

God will take care of his enemies. “And please, God, do away with wickedness for good!” (v.19)

In a dramatic turn, David recognizes enemies of God as his enemies. He did not ask God for power to punish or dispense with them. It is up to God to decide. I have enough to do to live my life in his presence. 

Psalm 139 ends with prayer. I cannot improve on David’s words as translated in “The Message,” so I offer them here:

Investigate my life, O God,
find out everything about me;
Cross-examine and test me,
get a clear picture of what I’m about;
See for yourself whether I’ve done anything wrong —
  then guide me on the road to eternal life.  
In Jesus’s name, amen. 

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