Summary: In Psalm 139 we learn that we feel uncomfortable knowing that God knows us completely, even our dirty laundry, and we tend to want to hide from God, but through Christ we are righteous and we can rest in being in an intimate relationship with God.
I became a thief at the age of 5. I went into a grocery store and my mother was busy making sure that the tomatoes were just right. When she wasn’t looking I saw the bright shiny little box. At the time the words on this shiny box said lemonheads, and at the time it seemed like the best words in the world. I looked at this little yellow shiny box and wondered what the candy would taste like. Would they be sweet like honey or sour like real lemons? I took the candy and put it in my pocket. After a while we walked out of the store. My mother put me in the car seat in the back of the car.
When we got home I hid in my room and I started eating my candy. After finishing the candy, I did not feel right. My mother came in my room and found the empty little box. I wanted to hide and I could not look at my mother in the eye. She knew immediately what I had done. She knew me. I tried to lie, but she could see right through me. My mother told me, “Don’t hide what you did, the grocery store clerk told me.” I was scared and I started to cry. My mother held me. She did not yell and she did not punish. My mother then said, “Don’t worry I paid for it.” My mother paid the price so that I would not have to hide from her.
People of God, in the same way, Jesus paid the price of our sins so that we would not have to hide from God. We fall short and we feel like we want to hide from God. Intimacy can be both something scary and uncomfortable we wish to hide from. But intimacy also affords something grand.
Psalm 139 strikes us in our hearts in intimate areas with the rawness of beautiful truths. David’s Psalm speaks to the marrow of our bones to the innermost parts of who we are. He is not speaking of theological jargon from an academic institution and he is not addressing us on the basis of his research. He is not reporting to us his philosophical thoughts. Instead, we are being invited to an intimate conversation between David and God.
This Psalm strikes us because it reflects an experience, a living and breathing representation of an intimate relationship with God spoken through an intimate theology. The Psalm strikes us because it is theological truth spoken through an intimate prose depicting a romance. The Psalm is striking because it is intimate, but also because of the audacity we hear in it. We hear the words “You know us in our innermost being” and we stop and think about both the beauty and surprise of it. We think, “ Well of course, God knows me. He knows everything about me”, but with awesome wonder and some shock we now enter into the uneasiness of being known. Being completely known means we feel exposed and we feel vulnerable, we have no privacy.
One day I was reflecting on this passage with a young married man who was not yet a Christian. We’ll call him Mike for the sake of this story. Mike wondered about his relationship with God and his wife. Mike began to tell me about how uncomfortable he feels about being known, about being vulnerable because it seems unmanly. He reasoned that our American culture teaches us to not be vulnerable because it means we are in a position of weakness and vulnerability. He said this is not just true of men, but of women too. He mentioned that any idea of intimacy is hard for him. He wanted to be close to his wife, but did not know how. Mike then said, “If I don’t even feel comfortable in my own skin, with who I am, with my sins and with all the darkness inside how can I be intimate with God. If I can’t be intimate with God, how can I be intimate with my wife?” Mike wanted to hide from God and he wanted to hide from his wife. Mike was not a believer.
People of God, we are made for intimacy, but we struggle with being intimate. In the story of the Fall, Adam and Eve sinned and they hid from God. Adam and Eve lost their intimacy with God when they sinned and they hid from God. Since the fall we have hid ourselves from God, we have lost something, have forgotten something of being intimate with one another and with God.
Human beings tend to hide who they are from one another and we try to hide who we are from God. We want to be known, but don’t know how to be known. We struggle with the thought of anyone knowing us fully, because how can someone ever want to know the deepest parts of us? How can anyone ever look into every part of us, the good and the bad and still love us? We fear the rejection that might come from being vulnerable, the rejection that may come from being intimate, we fear being rejected for who we are. Being known as the text says can be a vulnerable and intimate thing that some of us struggle with, it is hard and scary for us to understand and live with.