Summary: God sees all and knows all. That can cause us to feel either threatened or comforted. The best response is that of David, "lead me." It is far better to be led by the one who sees and knows everything, even our own thoughts.
For Sermon Central researchers: I have posted a series of 15 sermons on the Psalms. In recent personal studies I have found the psalms to be richer and more thought-provoking than I had fully appreciated. I had too often swept swiftly through psalms without slowing down to inquire as thoroughly as I might have into the depths of meaning and feeling that are expressed by the psalmists. Upon deeper examination and reflection, I find the psalms to be highly relevant to Christians in every age. My most recent foray into the psalms led me to present a series of studies of selected psalms in a class environment.
In my classes I did not examine every psalm, or every verse of the ones I did. Rather, I presented selected psalms that I believe to be representative of the collection in the book of Psalms. The studies were held in a class environment suitable for pauses for questions and discussion, and to pose “thought questions” where the meanings are not readily apparent, as is often the case in poetry. My notes include suggested points for such pauses, and I have not removed them in Sermon Central posts.
I developed the material with the view in mind that the series may be well used as sermons. There is an introductory sermon that describes what psalms are (whether they are in the 150-chapter book or elsewhere) and explains my approach to the series. The psalms I selected were presented in no particular order in the classes; however, I suggest that anyone using this material as a series begin with the introductory sermon and follow it with Psalms 1 and 2 in that order, as the first two psalms function as a pair. Beyond that, the selected psalms may be presented in any order.
To get as much enjoyment as we could from our study, I did some of the reading from the KJV, which I believe is the most beautiful of the English bible translations. For clarity we also used other versions, mainly ESV, which I have used for several years and the one I have come to prefer.
Read Psalm 139
I. The Consciousness of God (vs 1-6)
How can God pay attention to every thing you do and even what you think? Isn’t he busy running the universe, seeing after one thing and another.)
God knows absolutely everything about everything.
Hebrews 4:13 …no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
V6 God’s omniscience is too much for our minds to grasp. We can hardly imagine God knowing utterly everything – hearing and answering all the prayers being raised throughout the world, many of them unwise, conflicting with other people’s prayers, many from good and honest but misguided hearts but over which higher wisdom must prevail.
a. There’s no way to get away from it (vs 7-12)
There’s no hiding from God. He knows everything and is everywhere.
God not only knows everything that now is – he has always known everything that ever was, or will be.
b. God knew all this before and while we were being formed (vs 13-16)
There are two ways of looking at this:
(1) That God scrutinizing us every moment is invasive, unwelcome, intrusive, and suffocating…
It feels like God is snooping.
We have no privacy, which we feel entitled to.
When I was a child, we used to sing a song at church titled, “Watching You.”
My childhood visualization of that song was a gigantic eye in the sky – as big as a battleship – watching me every minute of the day, even when I was not outdoors. My 7-year-old conscience was laden with many sins – most of them stemming from my chief amusement as a little boy - tormenting my older sister.
OR on the other hand…
(2) That God’s absolute knowledge of us is comforting, reassuring, welcome, precious, desirable, and sustaining.
Remember: We are not our own. We are his.
Outside of his purpose in creating us, we have no reason to exist.
As David says in v17-18, God’s thoughts were, and are, precious.
So – like David – let us not think of it as God “watching” you to catch you in a slip-up in some moment of weakness. Think of it as a caring and protective “watching over” or companionable watching.
Two of the psalms (8 and 144) ask: “What is man, that you are mindful of him?”
Read Psalm 144:3-8
God’s watchfulness is not that of a cruel and malevolent tyrant, but a loving, benevolent and saving God.
Last part of v18 says:
“I awake, and I am still with you.”
May have been the inspiration for Harriett Stowe’s poem, “Still, Still With Thee”