Summary: Checking our test scores is a common experience. In Psalm 139 David is aasking to see his test score - the only difference i that he asks God.
“Soul Talk: What’s My Test Score?”
We’re all familiar with test scores. I remember the pre-computer days at college. Test scores were posted outside the professor’s office; students went to the office to look at the postings to see their score. High school students take college entrance exams, and anxiously await the test score. Your doctor runs you through several tests; at your follow-up appointment your first question is, “What are my test results?’ Checking our test scores is a common experience. In Psalm 139 David is asking to see his test score – the only difference is that he asks God. “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
Psalm 139 is a beautiful, overwhelming Psalm. David says that God knows every action we take, every thought we think, every place we go, and every word we speak before we speak it. We can’t get away from God; there’s no hiding from Him. To top it off, God knit us together in our mother’s womb, so He knows us better than we know ourselves and has laid out a plan for our lives. Such knowledge is either unwelcome and frightening, or welcome and comforting – depending on our faith. David welcomes it with a sincere, intense prayer for self-examination. We need to learn this prayer.
David begins, “Search me, God, and know my heart…” The first petition is SEARCH ME. Having just asked God, in verses 19-22, to judge the wicked enemies of God, he turns the desire to judgment upon himself. It’s the spirit that one of our church fathers, Athanasius, stated in the 4th century: “You cannot put straight in others what is warped in yourself.” (1) David appeals to the Divine Judge to STATE THE EVIDENCE FOUND IN HIS LIFE; it’s an appeal to the supreme doctor to probe into the depths of his life to see how healthy he is.
And what a powerful request it is. Search me. Dig deep; cut away; lay bare; turn over and up; uncover; probe. Many pictures come to mind. Think of the activities involved in searching for a missing person or for a lost possession. I remember when we moved from Kalamazoo to Grand Rapids – we lost all our slides from our trip to the Holy Land. We had people search the parsonage and church in Kalamazoo and we frantically searched in and under everything in our new house, turning over and up. It’s like drilling for oil or digging for gold – going deep, cutting away, uncovering. Picture the surgeon looking for disease – laying bare, cutting away, probing. A great summary of what searching means was spoken on September 15, 2001, by President Bush: "We will find those who did it; we will smoke them out of their holes; we will get them running and we'll bring them to justice. . . . They will try to hide, they will try to avoid the United States and our allies — but we're not going to let them. They run to the hills; they find holes to get in. And we will do whatever it takes to smoke them out and get them running, and we'll get them.” (2) David was asking God to pursue him and bring him to justice.
Are you willing to pray that? Research says fewer people are willing to look at and change themselves. According to Dr. Linda Gottlieb, the practice of psychotherapy in the United States is losing its client base. In 11 years (from 1997-2008) the number of patients receiving psychological interventions plummeted by 30 percent. The reasons for this decline are complex, but Dr. Gottlieb focuses on one trend: psychotherapy involves the long, hard work of facing our own issues, but many people today would rather blame others for their problems. In other words, psychotherapists used to see patients who were unhappy and wanted to understand themselves. Now they see more patients who come in "because they wanted someone else or something else to change."(3) Are you willing to face the evidence?
God will DEAL WITH OUR HEARTS. Proverbs 21:2 says, “A person may think their own ways are right, but the Lord weighs the heart.” God searches, not so He can know – He already knows; but HE SEARCHES SO THAT WE CAN KNOW. God did the same thing in Genesis 3, when He came to Adam and Eve who were trying to hide from Him because of their sin. God asked “Where are you?” not because He didn’t know but because He wanted them to know where they were in relationship to Him. The Bible tells us that our hearts are full of evil and deceit – therefore they need work.