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Without a doubt, overwhelming concerns have gripped our nation. The Coronavirus has
impacted our public and personal lives to a far greater extent than we could have imagined.
To one degree or another, each one of us has some level of worry and anxiety over health
and financial issues brought about by Covid19. How can we settle the anxious fears that
seem to well up within us no matter how hard we try to stay calm?
The Book of Psalms is a unique book of the Bible. It is the collection of the expressions of
praise and petition set to music for the “Hymnal” of the Jewish nation. They were written
as a reflection of the heart of the human author as he cried out to God in a time of need or
as he offered his thanksgiving and praise to God for His blessings. Therefore, the psalms
still resonate with us today. They give verbal expression to our deepest emotions. It is no
wonder the psalms are loved by so many.
Psalm 139 is especially appropriate for our present situation. The First Verse of the
Hebrew text tells us that this psalm was “for the Choir Director” and “a Psalm of David”.
In other words, it was written by David, who is also the author of many other psalms in our
biblical collection. By designating this psalm for the Choir Director, David indicated that
his composition was intended to be used in the corporate gathering of the nation of Israel
as special music to be sung to them by the Levitical singers. Psalm 139 was to provide
instruction to the people of God as well as to encourage their worship of the LORD, the
God of Israel.
As individuals have tried to determine the form or classification of Psalm 139, they have
recognized that it begins with an expression of Praise and Thanksgiving in verses 1-18 and
ends with a Petition to the Lord for His deliverance in verses 19-24. It becomes apparent as
one reads through the psalm that David composed it during a time of personal distress and
need. While David does not indicate the specific occasion that prompted this psalm, there
are many well known events in the biblical record that fit the criteria. He states that he is
surrounded by “wicked, bloodthirsty men” who “spoke against the Lord” and “lift
themselves up against the Lord” (Ps. 139:18-19). David recognized his only hope for
deliverance from his present situation and distress was the LORD Himself.
You will notice that David began his psalm by addressing his God in a very personal way.
In most English translations of the Old Testament, when the personal name of God is used,
it is written in all capital letters in our text. “O LORD, You have searched me and known
me” Ps. 139:1). The reason God’s personal name is written as “LORD” (all capital letters)
was because the Jews never wanted to be guilty of treating God tritely or to profane the
name of God, that is, to treat Him as common. Therefore, whenever His personal name was
written, the one reading the text substituted the Hebrew word “Adonai” (which means lord
or master. When the Hebrew word “Adonai” was actually used in reference to God, it is
written in our English translations of the Old Testament as Lord (Only the first letter
capitalized). God is the One who revealed Himself to His people as the Great I AM. He is
the One who declared that His personal name is Yahweh, the ever existing One. So David
addressed his song of praise and petition to the personal God who has disclosed Himself to
David and continually bestows His grace upon him.
David’s expression of praise found in Psalm 139:1-18, has 3 subsections. Each of these
subsections focuses upon a different aspect of God’s character. In verses 1-6, David
reflected upon the Perception or Knowledge of God. He marveled at the omniscience of our
O LORD, You have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
You understand my thought from afar.
You scrutinize my path and my lying down,
And are intimately acquainted with all my ways.
Even before there is a word on my tongue,
Behold, O LORD, You know it all.
You have enclosed me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is too high, I cannot attain to it.
Our God knows all about each one of us. He is intimately aware of all our activities. He
knows where we are and what we are doing in each and every moment of our lives. He is
aware of our thoughts and motives. In fact, He knows what we are going to say before the
word is ever on our tongues. His ways and His understanding boggle the minds of finite
human beings. There is nothing that escapes the notice of our God. There is nothing that is
perplexing to our God. He knows all about you. He knows all about me. Our God is the
Omniscient One. He knows each and every detail of His creation and His creatures. Not
even the events of today escape His notice.
Next, David found delight in the Presence of the Lord as he stated in verses 7-12. The One
true God is the being who is ever present in every aspect of His creation.
Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.
If I take the wings of the dawn,
If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,
Even there Your hand will lead me,
And Your right hand will lay hold of me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me,
And the light around me will be night.”
Even the darkness is not dark to You,
And the night is as bright as the day.
Darkness and light are alike to You.
As finite beings, we can only be in one place at one time. But that is not so with the Lord
our God. He is the ever present One. There is nowhere in this universe that He is not
present. Even if one should travel at the speed of light (wings of the dawn) to the remotest
parts of the universe, God is there! He is the One who called all things into existence and is
ever present throughout all His creation. As stated by the Apostle Paul, “He Himself gives
to all life and breath and all things.” This great God is not far from anyone of us since “in
Him we live and move and exist” (Acts 17:25-28). The LORD Himself is present with each
one of us wherever we may be. In life or in death (Sheol), God is there. No one or nothing is
ever hidden from Him. The darkness and the light are the same to our God. What a
blessing for those who can genuinely say, “The LORD is my Shepherd” (Ps. 23); to know
that the LORD, the Good Shepherd, has promised that He will never leave or forsake
anyone of His sheep. He is always present with His people. The Omnipresent God is with
us. Praise His holy name.
In the final subsection of David’s expression of praise and thanksgiving, he found comfort
in the personal care of the LORD for him. Psalm 139:13-18 begins with the term “for”
indicating that David was making personal deductions from the reality of God’s
Omniscience and Omnipresence. David understood that he was not a product of chance. He
also understood that the things in his life were under the control and design of God. The
LORD God Almighty is the supreme Sovereign over all things.
For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb.
I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book they were all written,
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.
God made each one of us just as He was the One who formed and fashioned David. He has
made each one of us as it pleased Him. The LORD determined our individual personalities
and abilities. He determined when and where we were to be born. He has also determined
how long we shall each live upon this earth. He has determined “the days ordained” for
each one of us long before we were ever conceived in our mother’s womb. Our God is the
Omnipotent God. He is the supreme sovereign over all things. We can trust in Him.
Nothing is too hard for the LORD our God!
David then transitioned from his praise into his petition to the LORD for his present need
by expressing the deep awe he felt over the majesty of our great God who so wonderfully
cares for His people (Psalm 139:17-18).
How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand.
When I awake, I am still with You.
The greatness of our God and abundance of His daily blessings to His people are beyond
our ability to comprehend. The gracious care and provisions of the LORD to each one of us
are more numerous than the number of grains of sand on the earth. Whether we are awake
or asleep, God is watching over and blessing those who trust in Him. Therefore, the people
of God can call upon Him in their time of need as David did (Psalm 139:19-22). We can call
upon the LORD, knowing that He is able to take care of us and accomplish whatever is for
our good in each and every circumstance (Romans 8:28-29).
O that You would slay the wicked, O God;
Depart from me, therefore, men of bloodshed.
For they speak against You wickedly,
And Your enemies take Your name in vain.
Do I not hate those who hate You, O LORD?
And do I not loathe those who rise up against You?
I hate them with the utmost hatred;
They have become my enemies.
David recognized that his circumstance was not hopeless even though he was surrounded
by individuals who sought his harm. He recognized that the actions of the wicked against
him were actually a mocking of the LORD Himself. The people are raging against the
LORD and against His Anointed One (Psalm 2). David was confident that the LORD would
intervene on his behalf. He was certain that the LORD would work to deliver him from his
dire circumstance. Whatever may be overwhelming for us; it is not overwhelming or
beyond the ability of our God. We too can look to the LORD in our time of need.
In conclusion, David recognized that his greatest need was not deliverance from the
circumstance in which he found himself; but his greatest need was to be able to calmly rest
in the LORD during his present distress. So in Psalm 139:23-24, David petitioned the
LORD to enable him rest patiently without fear or anxiety concerning what may befall him
in his present circumstance.
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me and know my anxious thoughts;
And see if there be any hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way.
Like David in his time of need, our prayer to the LORD in our time of need, must be that
the LORD would grant us an unwavering peace in the midst of the storm. We need Him to
remove the fears and anxieties that grip our hearts in our time of distress and uncertainty.
Only the LORD can strengthen us and provide us with His perfect peace as we wait upon
Him in our time of need. When we become anxious and fearful, we are vulnerable to rely
upon ourselves and pursue a course of action that is a “hurtful way” for us. Only the
LORD can sustain us and keep us from thoughts and actions that we will later regret. He is
the One who will guide our steps in the everlasting way so we may experience that which is
for our good and brings glory to His great name.
What a precious and glorious psalm is Psalm 139. It was not written by David in a
hypothetical situation; but it was written in the midst of life’s difficulties and distresses. It
was written by David as an expression of his prayer and praise to the LORD in his time of
need. It was also written to provide us with instruction and wisdom as we go through our
own overwhelming problems in life. So what can we learn from this psalm?
First, we can see that we will each face circumstances in life that are unsettling and cause
us to become fearful and anxious. We need to recognize that those fears and anxieties are
not something we can remove or control by ourselves. It is only the LORD who can grant
us the inner peace and joy that will sustain us through the pressures and problems we each
Second, there is a comfort that comes from knowing that God is not only with us and well
aware of each thing we experience; but that He is the One in control of the events that come
into our lives. He is the One who is always present with us and will sustain us even in the
most how difficult circumstance we may face. In fact, He uses these very difficulties to
cause His children to trust Him all the more and to experience dimensions of His grace they
would otherwise never learn. Just as the Apostle Peter stated: “casting all your anxieties
upon Him, because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). So we too can call upon the LORD in
our time of need. We can find that His grace is always sufficient for those who trust Him.
He will provide “the peace of God that surpasses all comprehension” for His children as
they pour out their prayers to Him in their time of need (Philippians 4:6-7).
While there are many other truths we can learn from this precious psalm, there is one
overriding point we need to take from it. When we face uncertainties and problems that are
overwhelming for us, our focus needs to be upon the LORD Himself. There is no
knowledge more important for any one than the knowledge of the One true God. He is a
great and awesome Being. Rather than focusing upon our circumstance or problems, we
need to focus on the all sufficient God who is in control of the events of our lives and is
more than capable of taking care of those who trust Him in their time of need. We do live
in a difficult time. Panic and fear has gripped the hearts of so many. Even though our
problems are overwhelming to us, they are not so with our God. He is able. Look to Him.
He is able. Trust in Him. He is able. Wait upon Him. Nothing is too hard for the LORD
God Almighty. Praise His Holy Name.
Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to
make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with
great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our
Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all
time and now and forever. Amen. Jude 24-25
Soli Deo Gloria!