How precious also are Your thoughts to me.
Psalm 139 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
God’s Omnipresence and Omniscience.
O Lord, You have searched me and known me.
2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
You understand my thought from afar.
3 You scrutinize my path and my lying down,
And are intimately acquainted with all my ways.
4 Even before there is a word on my tongue,
Behold, O Lord, You know it all.
5 You have enclosed me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is too high, I cannot attain to it.
can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
8 If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.
9 If I take the wings of the dawn,
If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,
10 Even there Your hand will lead me,
And Your right hand will lay hold of me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me,
And the light around me will be night,”
12 Even the darkness is not dark to You,
And the night is as bright as the day.
Darkness and light are alike to You.
13 For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb.
14 I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;
16 Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.
17 How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand.
When I awake, I am still with You.
19 O that You would slay the wicked, O God;
Depart from me, therefore, men of bloodshed.
20 For they speak against You wickedly,
And Your enemies take Your name in vain.
21 Do I not hate those who hate You, O Lord?
And do I not loathe those who rise up against You?
22 I hate them with the utmost hatred;
They have become my enemies.
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.
In today’s text the psalmist speaks of the omniscience and omnipresence of God. He says: Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is too high, I cannot attain to it. The psalmist acknowledges that he cannot fully comprehend this very knowledge of the characteristics of God. He goes to the limits of his physical understanding, places he has been and places he has only imagined; and the psalmist knows that God is there. He is everywhere. The psalmist also acknowledges God’s knowledge of everything, past, present and future. He says: How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! To the psalmist it was a precious comfort that God knew everything about him, even what he was thinking. He says: You scrutinize my path and my lying down, And are intimately acquainted with all my ways. Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O Lord, You know it all.
For many it is not a comfort to think that God knows all, sees all and is everywhere we go. Many would rather rationalize God as being limited, like we are. They choose to view God by the limits of their own understanding, limiting the infinite by the finite, limiting the omnipresence of God to time and space as the human mind comprehends it. To them it would be disquieting to think that God could know even what they are thinking and see all that they do. They choose to create a god of their own image and likeness, rather than acknowledge that man was created in the image and likeness of God. These, who limit God to what can be understood by human knowledge and our finite minds, believe than that God becomes limited to and defined in human understanding. They believe they can operate apart from God, His knowledge and His standards.
Again though the truth is God is not like us. He is not limited by time and space. He is omnipresent, everywhere. His knowledge is not limited to what has been learned through experience or through human learning and teaching. He is omniscient, He knows everything. The psalmist knows and speaks of the key to God’s omnipresence and omniscience. He says: Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? God is not limited to or by this physical realm that we know and somewhat understand because He is spirit. Some who acknowledge that God is bigger than us, that He is beyond what we are, still try to limit Him to what is in this physical natural realm. They worship the vastness of creation, the heavens, the earth, sun, moon and stars. They worship animals. They believe that the universe, all that is in this physical realm is what is God. Even as vast as all creation is, as intricate and awesome nature and every living thing may be, even imagining beyond what we can see, what we understand, God is still beyond all creation. The universe cannot contain God, it was created by Him. Jesus says: “ God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:24) To truly acknowledge God for what and who He is we cannot know Him by the limits of human understanding. To know Him and to worship Him, we must know Him as Spirit. God is not limited to our human form or abilities. We should not try to define, describe or create a god in the image of man. Rather as it says in Genesis 1:27, we should be as we were created, in the image and likeness of God.
To know God we must know Him by and through the Spirit. How do we receive the Holy Spirit that we might know God? Luke 11:13 says the Spirit is given to those who ask. Jesus says: "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?" Acts 5:32 says the Spirit is given to those who obey God: "And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him." John 14:26, in the Amplified version, tells us more about the Holy Spirit. Jesus says: “But the Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby), the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name [in My place, to represent Me and act on My behalf], He will teach you all things. And He will help you remember everything that I have told you.” Jesus, when He walked the earth, was God in flesh, God in human form. We limit our knowledge and understanding of who God is even if we know Him as Jesus the man. Indeed Jesus did walk the earth as a man. He was crucified for our sins. He was placed in a tomb and He was physically and bodily raised and to know Him we must know the one who walked and ministered and taught here on earth. We must know the man who hung on the cross, freely giving His life for our sins. We must know that His body was placed in the tomb and that He, Jesus was raised from that grave to walk again with men. But beyond human comprehension, beyond human understanding, beyond the limits of this physical realm, we must know that Jesus ascended to the Father and that He is present with Him in Spirit and in truth. We must know, by the Holy Spirit, who is sent in Jesus name, in His place, to represent and act on His behalf, that God is Spirit. He is omniscient, omnipresent, He is omnipotent. He is eternal. He is beyond what we can know or imagine. He is God.
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit may I indeed know You, beyond the limits of my own understanding, through the Holy Spirit You have given, may I know and embrace the greatness of who You are. May it be to me, like the psalmist, a precious comfort knowing and trusting You with everything. Like the psalmist, I say: How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand. Each night may I pray: When I awake, I am still with You. And each day may You lead me in the everlasting way. Amen