Summary: God knows all that we are doing, but that can be comforting as well as frightening.
All those words that slipped out, the things you did in private thinking nobody would ever see, even the thoughts that zipped through your mind for just a moment. We’ve got it all here, a five-minute segment and everybody’s going to know everything about you. So we flip on the switch and there it goes on the screen. Would you enjoy that? I know I would -- as long as it’s one of you who is the star of the movie. But when you get to my film clip, I’m out of here.
I don’t really want you to know that. I don’t want to open all that up. It would be frightening to have someone know everything about us, and yet when you come to Psalm 139, that’s exactly the picture you get of God. God knows more than we’d care to have known if given the choice. He sees every nook and cranny of my life. Everything is subject to his scrutiny.
Several years ago, Bette Midler came out with a beautiful song called "From a Distance". In part of that song, she sings "God is watching us, God is watching us, God is watching us from a distance." I’ve always had mixed feelings about that song because I couldn’t tell whether the emphasis was on the fact that God is watching us or the fact that God isn’t anywhere nearby. But it certainly is true that God is watching us.
I remember, as a child, being impressed by an awesome image of God’s presence. When I was a teen-ager we used to sing a song that’s not in our songbooks here, "There’s an all-seeing eye watching you; Watching you, watching you, Every day mind the course you pursue." Actually, it’s a wonderful song if you understand what it’s saying, but I used to hate it. All I can picture is this big eyeball in the sky that looks down on you and sees everything. You don’t get away with anything. "There’s an all-seeing eye watching you."
In Psalm 139:1-6, David wrote, "O LORD, You have searched me and known me. You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word on my tongue, but behold, O LORD, You know it altogether. You have hedged me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is high, I cannot attain it."
In this passage, as much as we say we’d like to be known, this is a real frightening psalm. And I think one of the reasons it’s so frightening is because it’s hard to find much comfort in it. Here is this God who sees everything there is to know about us, even what we’re thinking.
David uses some descriptive words to talk about how God knows us. And it’s not just that God knows everything. We sometimes say that God is omniscient, and by that we mean that God knows everything there is to know. And that’s certainly true. You can read in Job 38-39, where God says to Job, "Do you know how the foundations of the earth were laid and do you know how the sun sits in the sky and do you know how this happens and that happens?" The answer that Job gives is obviously, "No." And the implication is that God does know all that. He knows everything.