Nurturing/ Teaching Courses
Spiritual Formation Institute
I and Thou
Dr Alex Tang
Psalm 139: 1-24
For the director of music. Of David. A psalm.
This popular psalm is attributed to David. We do not know when this was written
and in what context. All we can say is that this psalm was written by an
intelligent man, thinking about the meaning of life and God. He is aware of the
hard realities of life. He is also aware of the intimate relationship he has
with his God. This psalm can be divided into 5 parts.
A. The Omniscience of God (v.1-6)
You have “examined” or “scutinized” me. God knows me very well. No need to hide
or wear our masks. We are become our real self when we are with Him. No need to
hide behind masks, No need to pretend to be someone I am not.
God knows my outward action: sit (rest); rise (action, work) and also my inward
action: my hidden life; emotional; thinking. He knows what I am able to do
because He knows me so well.
God knows my needs better than I do. That is why He hems me in – He is providing
close guard or protection for me. He knows what danger I can get myself into if
I am allowed to wander along on my own. He blesses my by His laying on of hands.
The Lord knows us through and through. This can be a terrifying thought. It is
also a reassuring thought. So let your hair down and be who you are; God knows
who you are anyway.
B. The Omnipresence of God (v.7-12)
Spirit and presence speaks of the total presence of God. There is no where I can
go where I am out of reach of God. The psalmist uses the vertical reaches of
heaven and hell. God is there in heaven. Even in hell, God is there. There is no
realm that is outside His domain. From the rising of the sun in the east of the
Mediterranean Sea to its setting in the west is the psalmist’s way of saying
that in the entire known world, God is present.
C. The Omnipotence of God (v.13-18)
God is also omnipotent. We are fearfully and wonderfully made. I can appreciate
the complexity of the human body and mind as a doctor. We are indeed fearfully
and wonderfully made. What is more reassuring is that God knows me even before
the foundations of creation was laid. He knows of when I am being formed and all
the things I will do and be, even before I am born. It is a powerful reminder to
me that in spite of what God knows about me, He still loves me.
D. The Enemies of God (v. 19-22)
Suddenly there is a change in the tempo. The psalmist started by telling about
the omniscience, the omnipresence and omnipotence of God. Suddenly he changed
and talked about the enemies of God. There are some commentators who believed
that this section was added on later. I do not believe so. I believe it is a
part of this wonderful psalm. The psalmist was telling about his own experience
of the omniscience, omnipresence and omnipotence of God. Then he told of people
who strayed away from God, people who rejected God and people who hated God. He
then stated that he will hate these types of people. There is always a danger of
categorizing people as “them and us.” Did he not earlier say how God loves
people? Is there not a hint of self-righteousness in his statement. “I am not
like that so I can hate them”. A better approach will be “there but for the
grace of God, goes I.” I need to have this awareness on how easy I can sin and
turn away from God, how easy for me to become “them.”
E. The Way Everlasting (v.23-24)
I believe it is precisely that awareness of our fallen-ness in the presence of
the omniscience, omnipresence and omnipotence God that the psalmist ends by
asking God to seek his heart and dig out the sinful parts. Compared to the
beginning where he said that God had searched his heart. We need to be
continually searching our lives and motives so that we are aligned with the path
of God. The psalmist ended with being led on the way everlasting. The words “way
everlasting” appears only once in the Old Testament and it is here. It indicates
our journey from the past to the present and onto the future. To walk with this
Great Almighty God, I must walk the path of righteousness. So help me, God. Amen
Soli Deo Gloria
|posted 29 September 2006|