Summary: God knows us intimately, and that knowledge directs our lives for His glory and our good
Known by Him
May 20, 2007
Let’s start with a little quiz this morning. First, some historical facts.
Who’s buried in Grant’s tomb? Ulysses Grant
Which country makes Panama hats? Ecuador
In which month do Russians celebrate the October Revolution?
November. The Russian calendar used to be 13 days behind ours.
How long did the Hundred Years War last?
116 years, from 1337 to 1453.
From which animal do we get catgut?
From cows and sheep and horses
What is a camel’s-hair brush made of?
Where are Chinese gooseberries from?
Of course, anyone can learn facts like these. And the things we think we know, we sometimes really don’t know that well. But how about more intimate knowledge, not of history, but of individuals?
How well do you know your elders? Let’s start with Jim Grinnell. Who knows his middle name? (Wallace) How many of you knew that Jim was a milkman in his younger years?
How about Dave Troutman? Who knows what Dave’s undergraduate degree is in? (Art) Which religion was Gordon a part of before he came to Christ? (Hindu) How many of you knew that Joel Vesanen was a professional bus driver?
How many of you know which north African country Bruce Clutter lived in as a boy? (Libya)
In what city did Jim Garrett go to seminary? (Cincinnati)
Our knowledge is limited. We do know a lot, because we’re for the most part well-educated. And when we’ve spent time with people, we get to know them personally as well.
But we serve a God whose knowledge of us is completely different, and much greater, than our knowledge of facts, of history, or even of people we know well. Our great God is what we call omniscient. What that means is that He knows everything. He’s the original know-it-all. He’s the only true know-it-all. But He doesn’t just know facts. If He did, He’d be a lot like us. We could say that He could learn. God’s omniscience goes well beyond the relatively simple ability we have to see or hear or read something, and later recall it. Some of us are better at this than others.
But God can know some things that we cannot know. Turn with me to Psalm 139. This is one of the fullest expositions of God’s omniscience in scripture. It’s far from the only one, but it’s a wonderful meditation for us on what God knows, and not just in a general knowledge sense, but what He knows about each of us, each one of us as individuals.
This Psalm represents the peak of the Psalter, the (most mature) individual faith in the Old Testament and the clearest anticipation of the New. All the marks of intimate friendship – detailed knowledge, reading of minds, a hand on the shoulder to encourage or check – are here ascribed to God. His companionship is unbroken. source: Baker Commentary on the Bible
The Psalm starts with a look at God’s omniscience, goes on to explore His omnipresence, that is, God’s presence everywhere, and then His omnipotence, the fact that God is all-powerful. David, the psalmist here, asks God to examine him thoroughly to affirm his innocence. The first part, which we’ll focus on this morning, in the first six verses, is about God’s knowledge.
David recognizes that every aspect of his life was searched out and controlled by what the Lord knew. David then recognizes that he could not escape such omniscient control because of God’s omnipresence.
God has such control over David, because in His power, that is, God’s omnipotence, He created David, and planned his life in amazing, complete, detail.
Psalms 139:1-6 (NIV) 1 O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. 2 You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. 3 You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. 4 Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD. 5 You hem me in--behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.
As we read these first six verses of Psalm 139, we can see clearly that God’s knowledge is so much above and beyond what we can imagine or understand fully ourselves. That’s what David noted in verse 6, when he wrote “such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.”
He didn’t mean wonderful here, in the sense we often use it. We say wonderful, and we mean something’s really good – it’s tremendous. David means “full of wonder.” He means “Wow!”
To be aware that (God) knows everything about the psalmist is knowledge that surpasses his comprehension, and even his imagination source: KJV Bible Commentary