Take your Bible if you will and open it to the book of Psalms, Psalms chapter one hundred thirty-nine (139).
Allow me to read this psalm and is our custom, please stand in the reading of God's Word.
Read Psalm 139:1-6.
This Psalm belongs to David and David alone. Notice the first line that appears in the Hebrew text and also a part of Holy Scripture:
For the choir director. A Psalm of David.
The commentator and scholar John Jebb emphatically stated,
"Every line, every thought, every turn of expression and transition, is his, and his only."1
Literal critics like to attribute the psalm to someone else, but the evidence for David's authorship are strong.
For example, this psalm bears resemblance to Psalm 19, also a Psalm of David. Psalm 19 begins with meditations on the wonders of God's handy work, and from then passes on to the contemplation of His Holy law, and ends with a prayer for the chastening of his own spirit, and guidance of his ways.
Do you recall vv. 12-14 -
12 Who can discern his errors? Acquit me of hidden faults.
13 Also keep back Your servant from presumptuous sins; Let them not rule over me; Then I will be blameless, And I shall be acquitted of great transgression.
14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.
Not only was David the "sweet psalmist of Israel" (2 Sam 23:1) who was capable of arranging lyrics for the assembly, but he was the man whom the Lord sought out for Himself - "a man after His own heart" (1 Sam 13:14).
I can't help but think that his son Solomon, as he was giving his benediction to the people (Temple is built, the Ark of the Lord was brought into the Temple - a glorious occasion of great rejoicing), that he thought of his father when he said these words in 1 Kings 8:61 -
61 "Let your heart therefore be wholly devoted to the Lord our God, to walk in His statutes and to keep His commandments, as at this day."
"That was my father - a man whose heart remained wholly devoted to the Lord."
Beloved, to anyone who walks faithfully before the Lord, to the one whose life is wrapped up in the thought of God and His works, such a person cannot help but look into the holy mirror of God's Word and evaluate oneself.
A man after God's own heart is the man who continually begs the Lord as David did in Ps 86:11 -
11 Teach me Your way, O Lord; I will walk in Your truth; Unite my heart to fear Your name.
A man after God's own heart is the man who knows his heart can be divided and thus prays, "I want to be single-heartedly devoted to You, my Lord."
You see David not only takes us to gaze upon the loveliness and holiness of our great God and King, but he takes us to look deep within the recesses of our soul and ask the tough questions -
"What of my errors? What of my secret faults? What of my presumptuous sins? Oh, Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer."
He does the same thing in Psalm 139. Jump down to v. 23f -
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts;
24 And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.
Consider what the Reformed theologian, William Ames (1576-1633), had to say about theology-
"Theology is the doctrine or teaching of living to God...Men live to God when they live in accord with the will of God, to the glory of God, and with God working in them."2
You see theology does not deal merely with statements about God (e.g. Psalm 139 is loaded with statements about God), but rather with knowledge of how to "live to God."
Both your life and mine ought to be "living to God." We cannot simply entertain thoughts of God with no action. Thought and action intertwine in theology. That is how we both think and do.
In developing the Catechism of the Church of Geneva, Calvin would ask the following:
6. M[inister]. What is the true and right knowledge of God?
C[hild]. When we know Him in order that we may honour Him.
7. M[inister]. How do we honour Him aright?
C[hild]. We put our reliance entirely on Him, by serving Him in obedience to His will, by calling upon Him in all our need, seeking salvation and every good thing in Him, and acknowledging with heart and mouth that all our good proceeds from Him.3
Here Calvin put knowledge and obedience together - thought and action. Or in the words of James, in James 1:22-25 -
22 But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.
23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror;
24 for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was.
25 But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.
I trust that as we engage upon a study of this marvelous psalm that it will provoke thought and instill action as we seek to "live to God."
Not only is Psalm 139 authored by David, but it is the second of the Psalters last eight psalms attributed to David (138-145). In all David, is the chief author of the Psalms, credited with writing 75 of the 150 psalms; exactly half of the Psalms.
The Jewish rabbi in the Middle Age, Aben Ezra, said of Psalm 139 that it is the "crown of all the Psalms," being unequalled in the five books of the Psalter.4
Rightly so as it is an intensely personal psalm that expresses David's awe of this powerful and weighty thought -
God knows me!
I am not sure where this psalm finds you today, but take comfort o people of God that God is intimately acquainted with all your ways.
Perhaps you have wondered how in touch God is in your life? Is He interested in my life? Does he care for me?
There are approximately 6 billion people on the face of this earth, does God take notice of me? Am I statistic to Him? A grain on the seashore? Does he think of me?
Or perhaps your struggle is not with God, but with man. Perhaps you have felt alone on the planet. You may be in a crowded room, but you feel all alone. No one knows but God how you are feeling, what you are feeling, what it is that you are going through.
Perhaps you attend a function, yet the people that are there seem uninterested in you.
Perhaps your fellow man has misunderstood you or even accused you of wrongdoing. Where else can you go to but God? He knows when nobody else knows the truth.
The good news, my beloved is that God both knows and cares for you.
Elsewhere, as David stood again amazed at God, did he ask in Psalm 8:4 -
4 What is man that You take thought of him, And the son of man that You care for him?
It is a most penetrating thought that God takes though of you! God cares for you!
In fact the invitation is made for you to cast all you anxiety on Him, "because He cares for you" (1 Pet 5:7).
When you are knee-deep in a day of trouble, from where shall my help come?
The response from the psalmists is the following from Ps 121:2-4 -
2 My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.
3 He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber.
4 Behold, He who keeps Israel Will neither slumber nor sleep.
He who keeps you in His care does neither slumbers nor sleeps!
The truth is that God cares for you and has his sovereign eye upon you as if you were the only one on the face of this earth.
David prays in Ps 17:8 -
8 Keep me as the apple of the eye; Hide me in the shadow of Your wings
You are! You are of great concern to the Lord. You are under His protective care as His child. Does not mean that we still do not pray in this manner, but know that it is already a reality.
John Bunyan said it well -
"Prayer is a shield to the soul, a sacrifice to God, and a scourge for Satan."5
How it serves a shield and comfort to our soul to pray to God. Just know my beloved that God is intimately acquainted with all your ways. He knows you and has set his sovereign affection upon you.
And so as we look at this magnificent psalm, there are four chief thoughts that I want you to see that will serve to comfort your soul and most importantly magnify our loving Lord, God and Father.
God knows you intimately (vv. 1-6)
God is with you closely (vv. 7-12)
God made you uniquely (vv. 13-18)
God defends you personally (vv. 19-24)