Summary: David deals with the basic questions of life in this popular psalm.
Bob Buford wrote a great book entitled Halftime. No, it’s not a football book. It’s a book about finding significance in life. Bob Buford was a business man who had spent the first half of his life searching for success, and came to realize his real search was for significance. Searching for significance. Isn’t that what we’re all really doing? Dealing with the significant questions of life is exactly what the Psalmist David was doing as he penned the 139th Psalm. “Who am I?” “What am I doing here?” “What should I be doing in life?” These are serious questions to which I believe God wants us to know the answer. They matter because they have to do with our personal identity and our eternal destiny. How we answer those questions determines how we will live and order our lives. This is a song about the meaning of life.
The 139th Psalm is my favorite. As we walk through the psalms this summer, I wanted to take a week to share my favorite. Three things David reveals in this Psalm that make it my favorite psalm: 1) God is personal, 2) God is present, and 3) God is pursuing. What I discover about God in this psalm helps me understand who I am, and when I know who I am in relation to God, then I begin to understand a little of my own significance.
God is so much bigger than I can understand. Just about the time I think I have God all figured out, I realize I don’t. The more I learn about God, the more I realize I have still yet to learn. I discover the closer I get to God, the further I still have yet to go. We often think of the vast expanse of the cosmos. We are told that there are one billion stars in one galaxy, and one billion galaxies in the universe. That God is not only aware of every star and planet, but is the Power which keeps each one operating is beyond our ability to understand. He knows each star by name. I can’t understand how God can create the universe, or dare I say, the universes, and still be able to count the numbers of hair on my head. I can’t understand that God is my God, and yet, somehow, I understand it. Yet, this God who is greater than my mind can fathom, comes to me to be my God, to have a relationship with me. God knows us personally. David wrote, “O Lord, you have searched me and you know me.” God is very personal to David, perhaps even too personal. God searches him and knows him perfectly. There is nothing hidden from the knowledge of God, so that there can be no excuses, justifications or fabrications. This is an important truth to understand. There are those, I suppose, who think that because they have hidden something from others, they have hidden it from God. Nothing could be further from the truth. The prophet Isaiah says, “Woe to those who go to great depths to hide their plans from the Lord, who do their work in darkness and think, ‘Who sees us? Who will know?’” (Isaiah 29:15-16).
David went on to say, “You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.” Not only everything he thought, but everything he did was known by God. Everything David could think of was known by God. He said, “You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord.” God is familiar because God created us.
Think about this for a moment. Dr. John Medina, a genetic engineer at the University of Washington noted the intricacies of the human body. Medina said, “The average human heart pumps over 1,000 gallons a day, over 55 million gallons in a lifetime. This is enough to fill 13 super tankers. It never sleeps, beating 2.5 billion times in a lifetime. The lungs contain 1,000 miles of capillaries. The process of exchanging oxygen for carbon dioxide is so complicated, that it is more difficult to exchange 02 for C02 than for a man shot out of a cannon to carve the Lord’s Prayer on the head of a pin as he passes by. DNA contains about 2,000 genes per chromosome — 1.8 meters [nearly 6 feet] of DNA are folded into each cell nucleus. A nucleus is 6 microns [one millionth of a meter] long. This is like putting 30 miles of fishing line into a cherry pit. And it isn’t simply stuffed in. It is folded in. If folded one way, the cell becomes a skin cell. If another way, a liver cell, and so forth. To write out the information in one cell would take 300 volumes, each volume 500 pages thick. The human body contains enough DNA that if it were stretched out, it would circle the sun 260 times. The body uses energy efficiently. If an average adult rides a bike for 1 hour at 10 mph, it uses the amount of energy contained in 3 ounces of carbohydrate. [So lay off the donuts.] If a car were this efficient with gasoline, it would get 900 miles to the gallon.”