Summary: This sermon gives people a time for them to allow God to search their heart.
The Lenten Season is one of preparation and self-examination. We have looked at “Facing Temptation,” “Where’s Your Citizenship?” “My Way or God’s Way,” and “Choose Your Side.” This psalm (139) is a deep, introspective work. If we take it seriously, it could change your life. If this is truly our prayer, the future course of our life will be altered forever.
Read Psalm 139 responsively.
This is a powerful passage of scripture. English class review of verbs (action and state of being) and objects of the verbs. My English teachers would shake their heads at my feeble explanation.
There are six actions that the writer calls for in verses 23 and 24. There are, consequently, six objects of those actions.
† SEARCH (action) ME (object)
The word “search” here doesn’t mean to look for something. Rather it means, “to explore, search out, probe, investigate.”
Investigation TV shows are popular: Law & Order, Law & Order SVU, Law & Order CI, CSI, CSI Miami, JAG, Navy NCIS, and Cold Case. In the past: Perry Mason, Barnaby Jones, Matlock.
The writer is calling for God to investigate him to find him.
In verse 1, he has already said, “O Lord, you have searched me.” He wants an ongoing investigation. We are the focus of God’s investigation. We are not a material witness or a “person of interest.” We are the ones under investigation. It is a voluntary investigation.
Self-Examination: Am I under investigation by God?
† KNOW (action) MY HEART (object)
The writer then calls God to know his heart. What is in our heart is our most intimate being. We pour out our heart to our diary or journal. The writer is exposing himself so God can know the most intimate, internal part of his being.
Politics masks the “real” person. Candidates have a carefully quaffed persona. They reel when they are caught saying something in an unguarded moment.
The writer says that God created him, and therefore already knows him.
It’s an awesome realization that God knows our hearts. Verse 13 says that God “knit [us] together in [our] mother’s womb.” God knows our deepest fears, hurts, desires and goals.
Self-Examination: Do I realize God knows me intimately?
† TEST (action) ME (object)
The writer wants God to test him. To test means, “to try, probe, examine.”
Cars are tested to see they are road worthy. Students are tested to see if they are college worthy. Fabrics are tested to see if they are durable. Drivers are tested to see if they can drive.
The writer wants God to test him to prove him worthy. This is a gut check. In a basketball game the announcer may say, “It’s gut check time for this team.” Do they have what it takes? Do we have what it takes?
Self-Examination: Would I pass a test given by God?
† KNOW (action) MY THOUGHTS (object)
Our words are often guarded, but our thoughts aren’t. When someone says, “Have a nice day!” they may be thinking, “Get outta my face!”
Co-worker’s mock interview. He said all the right things.
The writer is digging deeper than the surface here. He goes beyond, “God examine my words” to “Know my deepest thoughts.” Verse 4 says, “Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord.”
To know our thoughts is know the motives behind our words and actions. Read verses 2 & 3. Not only does God know when we are sitting and standing, or going here or there, he know why we are doing those things.
The reality is that God knows us better than we know ourselves. We may believe that we are doing something for all the right reasons, but God knows the deeper reasons. We can say and do anything for the best intentions, but God knows the deeper motive. We can fool others. We can even fool ourselves, but we can’t fool God.
Self-Examination: Do I really want God to know my thoughts?
† SEE (action) ANY OFFENSIVE WAY (object)
God sees our motives. But it’s not enough for God to just see them; we have to be willing to allow him to tell us if we need to fix anything.
The writer says, “See if there is any offensive say in me.” Various translations say, “grievous way,” “hurtful way,” “wicked way,” or “anything…that offends.”
We have to allow God to see if there is anything in our lives that offends him, grieves him or hurts him. Such things are wicked. Again God knows us better than we know ourselves.
When something is wrong with our car, we take it to someone who knows more about cars than we do. For me, that is just about anybody.
Verses 19-22 may seem a bit out of place in our thinking, but the writer is saying that God’s cause is more important than anything. “To love righteousness is to hate evil.” Christ said to “love your enemies.” Again, here we have a gut check. Hate the sin, but love the sinner. Don’t allow hatred of sin to slide to hatred for a person.