TEXT: Psalm 139:1-6
TITLE: A GOD WHO KNOWS IT ALL
(The Omniscience of God)
When the Bible teaches that God is omniscient – that He has complete knowledge – it is not saying that God is bright. It is not saying that He is sharp. It is not even saying that he is a genius. These are the finite expressions of a people severely limited by space & time.
What the Bible is really getting at is that God knows everything. No question can confound Him. No dilemma can confuse Him. No event can surprise Him. He has eternal, intrinsic, comprehensive, and absolutely perfect knowledge.
Nothing is news to God.
But this knowledge extends even farther than today’s events. God knows how all things work. Think about that. He has complete knowledge of all of the mysteries of biology, physiology, zoology, chemistry, psychology, geology, physics, medicine, and genetics. He knows the ordinances of heaven, as well as the reason and course for the sun and the moon and the clouds.
And unlike anyone else, God’s knowledge is not limited to time. He reads our future just as clearly as He reads our past. Who we will be 50 years from now is no less certain to God than who we were 10 years ago.
Not only does God know why and how things work, but He also knows the minute details of their daily existence. Unlike a computer, He doesn’t have any memory problems in which He is forced to flush His memory banks to create room for more information. Even though He keeps track of the moon and the stars, not a single bird falls to the ground without God knowing exactly what is going on (Matthew 10:29). His knowledge even covers seeming trivia, such as the latest count of the hairs on your head (Matthew 10:30).
There isn’t a single motivation, thought, act, or word that has slipped out of your being and escaped the full, undivided attention of God.
Though many of the Psalms start out with a robust, “Bless the LORD,” or “Praise the LORD,” or “Rejoice in the LORD,” in Psalm 139 David’s knowledge of God’s omniscience is so overwhelming, he manages only a whisper of wonderment: “O, LORD.”
It’s as if he is admitting right from the start that words won’t be able to convey even a fraction of the power of this truth. David could rejoice in the power of God, he could celebrate the beauty of God, he could delight in the provision of God, but when it came to the intimate way that God desired to know David inside and out, when it came to this kind of passion, words utterly fail David.
The reason David is so overwhelmed is his keen understanding that God’s omniscience focuses and specializes on God’s knowledge of him. Yes, God understands the intricate mysteries of the atom and the complex interconnectedness of our planetary system, but all that pales in comparison with David’s understanding that God knows him. “You have searched me. You have known me.”
This knowledge stretches even to the humdrum of our daily lives, such ridiculous activities as sitting & rising: “You know my sitting down and my rising up” (verse 2). TLB says, “You know when I sit or stand.” God doesn’t miss it.
“You understand my thought afar off” (verse 2). TLB: “When far away you know my every thought.” God knows everything we think. Every midnight thought, every calculating strategy, every private worship time, and every act of kindness. God sees it all.
Then in verse 3, David recognizes that God follows our ways. “You comprehend my path and my lying down, / And are acquainted with all my ways.” TLB: “You chart the path ahead of me and tell me where to stop and rest. Every moment you know where I am.” God keeps a copy of our itinerary before it’s printed. We have never taken a trip that has escaped his notice. If you’re on top of the Empire State Building or buried in the mass of humanity traveling underground in the New York subway, God keeps His eyes trained on you.
God also knows what we say: “For there is not a word on my tongue, / But behold, O LORD, You know it altogether” (v. 4). TLB: “You know what I am going to say before I even say it.” Even before we say it, God charts our words and even the feelings that eventually lead to words. Think about that – God monitors our temperature! He feels the anger rising, He notices the fear spreading, and He sees the trust moderating. Good or bad, God sees it all.
But even more wonderful, David points out; God knows what we need. In verse 5, he states, “You have hedged me behind and before, / And laid Your hand upon me.” TLB: “You both precede and follow me and place your hand of blessing on my head.” This is a perfect kind of protection in which all my needs are known. If I’m thirsty, God knows it. If I’m lonely, God feels it. He’s not like a lottery winner who shuns his friends in the time of their greatest need. On the contrary, in the midst of my needs, He lays his hand upon me.
And now, I believe David is so overwhelmed he is forced to lay his pen down. His hand is shaking, his eyes are tearing, and his spirit is bursting. Finally he manages to scribble out verse 6 – “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; / It is high, I cannot attain it.” TLB: “This is too glorious, too wonderful to believe!”
Israel’s greatest conqueror admits defeat. “I better just lay my pen down, take off my shoes, and stand humbly on holy ground.”
I must really matter to God. This God doesn’t scrutinize the trees as He scrutinizes me. He doesn’t get intimately acquainted with the ways of rocks or bushes. He gets intimately acquainted with me because He is passionately moved by who I am.
Now let’s consider what we have looked at. The bad news: He knows your secrets.
While David is overwhelmed at the thought of God’s omniscience, I know that some of you might be shifting a little uneasily in your seat.
When I ponder the fact that God knows all about me, I have to admit that, at times, such attention is a bit of a mixed blessing. The good news is: He must really care about me to want to know me so well. The bad news is: If He is intimately acquainted with all my ways, that means He is intimately acquainted with all my sin.
Some of you right now may be involved in things God wants you to have no part of. You are guilty. You know you have violated God and the teaching of the Bible. You may be the only human being on the face of this earth who knows about your sin – but let me give you some news that is as good as it is sobering.
You don’t have to spend anxious nights wondering when God is going to “find out.” He already knows. You might pretend that He doesn’t, but he does. Don’t bother trying to continue the sham.
It’s over. He knows.
“All right,” you might respond, “then what does God want from me?”
Simply this. He wants you to stop the cover-up. Come clean and agree to change your ways. He’s not going to condemn you; He simply wants to liberate you from the guilt that you have carried and set you on a new course. He already knows all about it, what could possibly stop you from owning up to your sin and asking Him to forgive you.
Some of you need to burst into your Father’s “family room” &and say, “Dad, I blew it. I really blew it,” and then wait to hear His answer.
Some of you are going to be shocked, because you’re going to find out that while He knows all about your sin He still loves you.
The Good News: He Also Knows Your Scars
Every person is wounded in one way or another. As I grow older I am becoming ever more convinced of that. It is amazing how many people have shattered self-esteem. And when we talk about it, they say, “If you knew what went on in my home, if you only knew how I was treated growing up…” Or, “If you knew the violence my dad did to my mom,” or “If you knew the alcoholism and how it affected our family…”
And of course I don’t know, I can’t know, but God does. He was there, and He didn’t miss a millisecond of what took place.
Scars aren’t just from childhoods. Some of you have more recent wounds, ones that are perhaps still too tender to be called “scars.” They’re open, bleeding wounds. A number of you are bleeding emotionally and spiritually because your dreams have been shattered.
For many of you, the walls feel as though they’re mercilessly closing in. You may even hear your own screams and moans of agony echoing and bouncing off those walls, mocking you, taunting you, and making you feel even worse. “My spouse doesn’t know what I’m feeling. Even worse, he doesn’t want to know.” My parents couldn’t care less if I disappeared tomorrow. Nobody would miss me.”
Those of you who have screamed these screams need to be reminded of some powerful truths.
First, you must grab hold of the secure lifeline provided by the truth that God knows. He is intimately acquainted with all your ways. No feeling, no hurt, no scar, no wound has ever escaped his notice.
Not only does He know, He cares. The Psalms declare, “You have seen me tossing and turning through the night” let this next phrase sink in – “You have collected all my tears and preserved them in your bottle! You have recorded every one in your book” (Psalm 56:8 – TLB).
In ancient Middle Eastern culture, when a soldier went off to battle he would buy a “tear vial” – a little tear bottle - and he would give it to his wife or his mother. She would promise, “Your absence will make me so sad, I will cry every night. And when I do, I’ll collect those tears in this bottle. When you come back, you’ll see my tears and you’ll know how precious you are to me.”
How do you like that? When God greets us in heaven, He’ll be able to wave our tear bottle in front of His smiling face. “Didn’t miss a one,” He’ll say. “Not a single one.”
Additionally, He not only collects each tear but also records each one in a book: “And I’ve written them down in My book.” God is never careless with your tears, hurts, and wounds. That’s how much you matter to him.
This is the God of the Bible, the God Jesus wants you to meet, the God you’re looking for. You need never cry alone. Never.
More Good News: He knows Your Service
Sometimes we get discouraged because what we do doesn’t get noticed or appreciated. And the awful, soul maddening silence that follows our secret acts of service often tempts us to conclude, “What’s the use? Why bother being the Boy Scout? Who really cares? Nice guys finish last, anyway.”
That’s when we need this reminder: “Your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly” (Matthew 6:4). God is the note-taking heavenly observer. He knows about the time you bit your tongue when you could have contributed to a rumor. He takes notice every time you greet a stranger or visit a person in the hospital or prison. Our omniscient God has observed every secret act of character, conviction, & course in living color.
In every activity and in every conversation God is present, & says, “I saw it. Carry on! Do it again! I am going to reward you. I am going to repay you. You have not been working in vain.”