Psalm 139

Psalm 139
by Pastor David Groendyk

Derek Kidner opens his short commentary on this psalm by saying, “Any small thoughts that we may have of God are magnificently transcended by this psalm.” Yet our God is not too wonderful or high for us, but, as this psalm so magnificently reminds us, he personally and intimately knows each one of his children. Each section of this psalm says something lofty about God as well as something intimate and loving.

God knows all, and God knows you (vv. 1–6). Deep down, don’t we all want someone who really knows us? Who “gets” us? The kind of person we don’t need to explain ourselves to—they just know? The Lord is that person for us. He knows every action we take, he knows every word we speak, and he knows every thought we have. Rightly the psalmist says, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me!” We couldn’t imagine such a thing. A non-Christian would be terrified of these words, probably viewing God as some sort of Big Brother who’s out to get them. However, for the Lord’s sons and daughters, we know his eyes are on us so that he can direct everything for our good. He is able to put a wall up around us, and he gently lays his hand upon us to reassure us of his care (v. 5).

God is everywhere present, and God is with you (vv. 7–12). This goes hand-in-hand with the previous section. You could take a Space-X rocket to Mars or a deep-sea submarine to the Marianas Trench, but God would still be with you. Again, that is a terrifying thought for an unbeliever who only ever does evil and wouldn’t want to be found out by the great Judge, but for the Christian, this is the greatest comforting promise in the whole Bible! God will always be holding you and leading you no matter what circumstance you’re in (v. 10). It’s interesting how the psalmist immediately thinks of the dark times in life when reflecting on this truth (vv. 11–12). Perhaps that’s because that’s when we need to know and feel God’s presence the most. No matter how dark life gets, his promise is that he is still there.

God is the Creator, and God made you (vv. 13–18). These verses, in a sense, explain verses 11–12—your mother’s womb is an example of a dark place where we may be tempted to think God wasn’t there. The psalmist takes us back in time and highlights for us that God is not just with you now but has designed everything about your person, your body, your mind, your life, and your days—and all of it is wonderful. You are not an accident that God decided to care for out of pity; rather, he has specifically and intentionally designed and created you. Your worth and value has been determined by the Creator of the universe. How precious is that thought to a believer!

God is holy, and God vindicates you (vv. 19–24). This is not exactly how you would expect this psalm to end! However, it really does make perfect sense. God’s children are not the only people who make up this earth, and we will often face persecution and trouble. Yet for those who remain loyal and faithful to God, he promises to slay all those who go against him and you. Notice also the psalmist’s commitment to holiness in this section. He hates God’s enemies who hate God (vv. 21–22); he opens his heart and thoughts to be examined by God for sin that would grieve him (vv. 23–24). God’s holy protection is for those who love him and show that love through obedience.

This is a worldview-shattering psalm for us. It goes against so much of what the unbelieving world tries to convince us is true about life and where our value and worth come from. Keep this in mind today: your value and worth come from God, and being his child means his providential hand is with you and for you at all times and in every place. Praise God for that!