psalm 139 commentary

. The emphasis here is not on workmanship, but on the mystery of creation itself. 139:23, 24. woven together in the depths of the earth. This is one of a number of psalms that include a superscription concerning David. 1, 2, 4, 6, 14, 23 [2x]), thereby repeatedly reinforcing the “I-Thou” relationship between the psalmist and God. “In your book they were all written, the days that were ordained (Hebrew: yasar––formed or fashioned) for me, when as yet there were none of them” (v. 16b). Some would interpret that to mean that Yahweh predestined the psalmist’s life. As they explain: A merism is a poetic technique that expresses a totality by mentioning two parts, typically polar opposites … Poetically speaking, a merism provides vivid images that are meant to replace more abstract concepts such as “all,” “every,” or “always.” Given this intended usage, a merism is meant to be understood figuratively or metaphorically, but not literally. ), The Complete WordStudy Old Testament (Chattanooga; AMG Publishers, 1994), Baker, Warren and Carpenter, Eugene, The Complete WordStudy Dictionary: Old Testament (Chattanooga: AMG Publishers, 2003), Bromiley, Geoffrey (General Editor), The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised, 4 vols. Grant provide insight into the meaning and composition of this magisterial psalm in their new commentary Psalms, Volume 2 (NIV Application Commentary). What has been already said of deeds and thoughts is now extended to "words." He continues with a full-orbed look at that presence from birth. Because they are Yahweh’s enemies, the psalmist counts them as his enemies too. But for most of human history, people didn’t know each other’s movements to that extent unless they were living in the same house. These seven commands form the backbone of one of the most instructive psalms on giving grateful praise to the Lord: Psalm 100. The soaring language of praise and confession in the first three strophes abruptly ends in verse 18, only to be followed by more ominous and troubling language in the final strophe. 1 For the leader. How precious to me are your thoughts, God! When we are doing something wrong, we would prefer that God look the other way. Your works are wonderful. Of David. You laid your hand on me” (v. 5). Yahweh sees clearly what the psalmist sees only dimly, as if in a primitive mirror (1 Corinthians 13:12). There are a number of reasons, including the fact that “several Davidic psalms refer to the ‘temple’ (e.g., 5:7, 27:4; 65:4; 68:29” (Broyles, 28)––but the temple was built by David’s son, Solomon, and was not in existence during David’s lifetime. Your eyes saw my body” (v. 15-16a). and know me”—my heart and my anxious thoughts. and lead me in the everlasting way. The reciprocal is also true. A Psalm by David. They have become my enemies. The psalmist’s life force acknowledges the wonder of Yahweh’s works. There is a point of contact between our knowledge and God’s knowledge. “Where could I go from your Spirit? (To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.) Chapter 139 Some of the Jewish doctors are of opinion that this is the most excellent of all the psalms of David; and a very pious devout meditation it is upon the doctrine of God’s omniscience, which we should therefore have our hearts fixed upon and filled with in singing this psalm. One of the greatest truths in life which we all know, but which we all must come to learn, is that there is no escape from God. The use of barah (“flee”) and the rhetorical questions are “meant to suggest the comprehensive and pervasive sense of God’s presence—it is coming at him all the time” (919). Both Old and New Testaments refer to the book of life (Exodus 32:32; Psalm 139:16, 28; Isaiah 65:6; Daniel 7:10; Malachi 3:16; Philippians 4:3; Revelation 3:5; 13:8; 17:8; 20:12-15; 21:27). He describes God as:-Omniscient. Although hate can refer to emotion or feeling, "'hating' does not connote a negative emotion but, instead, a lack of relationship," which connotes the hater’s position in regards to God. Psalm 139:7-10, 12 “Where shall I go from your Spirit? 4 For there is not a word on my tongue, When You Feel Like a Nobody Going Nowhere - Psalm 139; Grace Relations - Acts 10; How Giving Makes You Joyful - Philippians 4; In this sermon, Lloyd Stilley uses Psalm 139. And he marvels at this, confessing a sense of awe at the vastness of God’s thoughts about him. PSALM 139 Ps 139:1-24. You have searched me and known me: David prayed to Yahweh, understandin… The God who calls David from the fields to be his anointed king is the same God who chastens David for his pursuit of Bathsheba” (926). A fisherman would be well acquainted with the sea, but would understand that the uttermost parts of the sea were distant beyond measure. Psalm 121 Commentary: Where Does Our Help Come From? Even there, God is present in his life. In Psalm 139 the psalmist’s anxieties are due to the threat posed by the enemies mentioned in verses 19–22. 4 Even before there is a word on my tongue,. The right brain is usually associated with creativity, and that better fits hagar. 20 For they speak against you wickedly. While the psalmist might not understand that the feelings he expressed in verses 19-22 do not accord with Yahweh’s will for his life, he nevertheless knows that he harbors the potential for wickedness. “For you formed my inmost being (Hebrew: kilyah). Yahweh created him. A Psalm by David. This knowledge is comforting to faithful followers and terrifying to the disobedient. However, some references say bones, which is ‘esem––not ‘osem. If you have any questions, please review our. Your works are wonderful. 19 If only you, God, would kill the wicked. But Yahweh knows even more than our sitting down and rising up. Nothing is hidden from Yahweh’s vision. Does he feel supported or hemmed in? This knowledge is firmly in view through the rest of this first strophe, where the reach of Yahweh’s knowledge extends to even the psalmists thoughts (v 4). Though Author and Creator of the entire universe, and each of us, God is personally in … But what does the psalm mean and how are its four poetic movements connected? However, “Rarely do hymns remind us of the kind of pervasive presence of God in our lives that might prompt a sense of holy fear. Regardless of where he flees—going up to heaven or down into the depths, traveling east or west—“he can escape neither the grasp nor the notice of Israel’s God” (920). By submitting your email address, you understand that you will receive email communications from HarperCollins Christian Publishing (501 Nelson Place, Nashville, TN 37214 USA) providing information about products and services of HCCP and its affiliates. Surely there are times when we would be embarrassed to think of God watching our every move. “If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will overwhelm me; the light around me will be night;’ Psalm 139 is the 139th psalm of the Book of Psalms, generally known in English by its first verse, in the King James Version, "O lord, thou hast searched me, and known me. Praise him. There is a better way. Am I not grieved with those who rise up against you? Know. It’s lofty. 3 You sift through my travels and my rest;. Chapter 139 God knows all things. These merisms follow the Lord’s searching of the psalmist, where thereafter he knows him. 7 Where could I go from your Spirit? Psalm 139 Some of the Jewish doctors are of opinion that this is the most excellent of all the psalms of David; and a very pious devout meditation it is upon the doctrine of God's omniscience, which we should therefore have our hearts fixed upon and filled with in singing this psalm. The final strophe, however, shifts both in focus and tenor. 3  (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2016), Tate, Marvin E., Word Biblical Commentary: Psalms 51-100 (Dallas: Word Books, 1990), Waltner, James H., Believers Church Bible Commentary: Psalms (Scottdale, Pennsylvania: Herald Press, 2006), Baker, Warren (ed. Your form could not be submitted. 4 (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1996), Ross, Allen P., A Commentary on the Psalms, 90-150, Vol. It sings the omniscience and omnipresence of God, inferring from these the overthrow of the powers of wickedness, since he who sees and hears the abominable deeds and words of the rebellious will surely deal with them according to his justice. The verb “to hem in” (tsur) or “to bind” is an equivocal term that can mean Yahweh makes him secure, but in some contexts also means “laying siege.” So which is it? (1-6) He is every where present. Psalm 139 combines praise of, appeal to, and wisdom meditation on this God who knows all and who encompasses all. And by beginning he really means beginning—as in the embryo stage! This great and self-evident truth, That God knows our hearts, and the hearts of all the children of men, if we did but mix faith with it and seriously consider it and apply it, would have a great influence upon our holiness and upon our comfort. “You know my sitting down and my rising up. Because God has known us, fully known us, we can trust in him when the world goes awry and seems to be in open rebellion against his ways (vv. With a holy satisfaction in our own integrity, concerning which we may appeal to God, Ps. Admonition to the wicked and comfort to the pious are alike implied inferences from these doctrines. When your world turns dark and your journey turns rugged, where do you turn for help? In other words, I cannot escape God’s presence “For you created my inmost being” (v. 13). 9-10). Listen to God. when as yet there were none of them. A psalm of David. The word’s later use in the Talmud suggests the term could be construed as meaning ‘embryo’ or something that was formless or shapeless” (922). all the days ordained for me were written in your book. It helps bring both halves of the interpretive task together—the passage’s original meaning and contemporary application—explaining not only what the Psalms meant but also how they speak powerfully today. 22 I hate them with perfect hatred. Copyright © 2020 HarperCollins Publishers. The psalmist further prays that Yahweh will guide him “in the everlasting way” (derek). Commentary on Psalm 139:1-6 (Read Psalm 139:1-6) God has perfect knowledge of us, and all our thoughts and actions are open before him. The second part of Psalm 139:13 continues this motif, confessing God’s presence with the psalmist from the very beginning of existence by indicating that the psalmist was knit together in his mother’s womb. See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way” (Hebrew: derek ) (vv. The psalmist acknowledges that Yahweh has searched (haqar) him and known (yada) him. 14b (Downers Grove, Illinois:  Inter-Varsity Press, 1973), Limburg, James, Westminster Bible Companion: Psalms (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2000, Mays, James Luther, Interpretation: Psalms (Louisville: John Knox, 1994), McCann, J. Clinton, Jr., The New Interpreter’s Bible: The Book of Psalms, Vol. It sings the omniscience and omnipresence of God, inferring from these the overthrow of the powers of wickedness, since he who sees and hears the 3 You search out my path and my lying down, 24 See if there is any wicked way in me, “The verb ‘to search’ (haqar) can refer to searching out land (Judg 18:2) or searching out a city (2 Sam 10:3), but often, especially in the wisdom literature, the verb means ‘to search’ in the sense of ‘to examine’” (917). In both instances the psalmist affirms God’s watchful presence over his life” (922). Come. The psalmist has been talking about himself as an example of Yahweh’s creative endeavors, but now he broadens the scope to include all of Yahweh’s works––all of creation. This psalm speaks of the pervasive presence of God, and his intimate knowledge of us, which offer us an outsized measure of hope and comfort in the face of adversity and trial. PSALM 139 Ps 139:1-24. 13 For you formed my inmost being. “Yahweh, you have searched (Hebrew: haqar) me, and you know (Hebrew: yada) me” (v. 1). We find ourselves doing hateful things––and failing to live according to treasured values (Romans 7:15-20). You laid your hand on me. As the authors note, “Because God is pervasively present, the comfort of his presence is juxtaposed with the very threat of the same. Psalm 139:4 "For [there is] not a word in my tongue, [but], lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether." We find darkness frightening––even dangerous. We can be grateful that Yahweh loves us enough to use both ways to understand us. (920). And he petitions God to act because they are against him, God himself. Both we and God, for example, know that the statement “two plus two equals four” is a true statement, that it corresponds to reality. Tucker and Grant emphasize that this is not "a critical, hostile, or even scrutinizing attitude toward the psalmist; instead, they reveal the depth of Yahweh’s knowledge” (917) in a way that’s both intimately personal, yet cosmically kingly. 8 If I ascend up into heaven, you are there. The word nepes means soul, but not in the sense that we often use that word. Add Psalms, Volume 2 to your library today and you will grasp the original meaning, exegetical context, and contemporary significance of these precious biblical poems, hymns, and prayers. Psalm 139 is a beautiful meditation on four attributes of God: His knowledge, presence, power, and holiness. … There has been considerable debate about the precise genre of this psalm. To modern readers, this pa... Shout. the days that were ordained for me, He hates those who hate Yahweh. 3 You scrutinize my path and my lying down,. Others insist the psalm is a prayer of an unjustly accused person, given the final strophe, while some have suggested it is a complaint uttered by a psalmist in the midst of hostility. Long before God “fearfully and wonderfully made” you, he knew what you would be like and what you would do. Walter Brueggemann describes this relationship by saying, “The Psalms are prayers addressed to a known, named, identifiable You. (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1979-1988), Brown, Francis; Driver, S.R. Christ calls us to love even our enemies––not to hate them (Matthew 5:44). The psalmist feels surrounded or trapped. The word sur (hem me in) usually means to besiege. The verb yada‘, “to know,” occurs seven times in the poem (vv. The writer of Psalm 139 suggests that if he were in the darkness, the place of chaos and death, the place that is absent of light, then perhaps finally he would find a place apart from God. 18 If I would count them, they are more in number than the sand. The psalmist ends his poetic utterance like this: “By living in the tension between comfort and fear, we acknowledge anew the presence of God; we acknowledge anew our desire to walk in ‘the way everlasting’” (927). The psalmist acknowledges that Yahweh created him, so Yahweh has a special place in his heart. ), which the WEB has updated. 2 You know my sitting down and my rising up. This Psalms commentary, which is part of the NIV Application Commentary Series, helps readers learn how the message of the Psalms can have the same powerful impact today that it did when they were first written. In the presence of Yahweh, “night shines as the day.”  Darkness is like light to Yahweh, because he brings the light of his presence into dark places––so we need not fear darkness when Yahweh is near. “This knowledge is beyond me. Yet he has remained present with us (v. 18). He designed him from scratch and brought his design to completion. If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, you are there!” (vv. Others insist the psalm is a prayer of an unjustly accused person, given the final strophe, while some have suggested it is a complaint uttered by a psalmist in the midst of hostility.Others still highlight the wisdom themes present and prefer a “meditation” or “wisdom meditation” label. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them." Hers is a 24/7 job, at least while the child is small. Although “he cannot know the vast sum of God’s thoughts, he does know that God is with him, whether at the end of his inquiry or the end of his life” (923). B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2014), Gower, Ralph, The New Manners and Customs of Bible Times (Chicago: Moody Press, 1987), Kidner, Derek, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries: Psalms 73-150, Vol. Although God’s vast knowledge of an individual’s deeds can be reassuring for the righteous, it … SCRIPTURE QUOTATIONS are from the World English Bible (WEB), a public domain (no copyright) modern English translation of the Holy Bible. It makes sense that Yahweh would know the psalmist. In verse 5 God is said to “hem in” the psalmist, and in verse 7 he queries, “Where can I flee from you presence?” Both images (being hemmed in and fleeing) nearly always carry a negative connotation. The authors also note the unusual use of “created.”. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. If I would count them, they are more in number than the sand” (vv. The word yare (fearfully) means fear or reverence or to be awesome. “I will give thanks to you, for I am fearfully (Hebrew: yare) and wonderfully made” (v. 14a). I can’t attain it. The psalmist quickly recognizes the fault in his own logic, however, because “even the darkness will not be dark to [God]” (v. 12). Does the psalmist see God’s presence as a blessing or a curse? O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me. He has made a deliberate effort to know him. But Yahweh is not an enemy set on the psalmist’s destruction, as would normally be the case in a siege. It is more analytical and less emotional than hagar, and is therefore less winsome––less charming. Psalm 139:19 In the first eighteen verses of this psalm, the psalmist acknowledges that God knows everything that the psalmist ever does, no matter when or where he does it. In the final few verses, he indicates that all the days ordained for him are written in “your book,” which the authors explain “likely stems from the Mesopotamian idea of tablets or books of fate in which the deities would write the preordained life of humans. Even then they would spend most of the day independently. I. LORD, you have probed me, you know me:. ), The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary, 6 vol. (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2006-2009), VanGemeren, Willem A. You perceive my thoughts from afar” (v. 2). Or where shall I flee from your presence? The prayer of the writer of Psalm 139, King David, showed that he obviously wanted to be in the centre of the will of God. Psalm 139 is a personal prayer and song of praise to God. But the psalmist is saying something that transcends the wonder of the birth process. And he is so close and intimate that he hems him in. ‘osem) wasn’t hidden from you when I was made in secret, woven together in the depths of the earth. For there is not a word on my tongue, but, behold, Yahweh, you know it altogether. Readers through the centuries have interpreted “A Psalm of David” to mean “A Psalm written by David,” but a number of scholars question that interpretation today. And are intimately acquainted with all my ways. Now the psalmist pulls back from the panoramic view of Yahweh’s love to focus on one detail. with all my ways you are familiar. Psalms 139, Coffman Commentaries on the Bible, One of over 110 Bible commentaries freely available, this commentary, by the leading authority in the Church of Christ, presents a verse level look at the Bible. As a finite man the psalmist cannot even begin to understand the infinite God. The psalmist expresses his faith that Yahweh designed and brought into being the hidden parts of his body. For further study, see Craig C. Broyles, New International Biblical Commentary: Psalms, pages 26-31 and A.A. Anderson, The New Century Bible Commentary: Psalms (1-72), pages 43-45. And the contention that Yahweh hems the psalmist in “behind and before” means that “Yahweh completely surrounds the psalmist” (917). Today with surveillance cameras and tracking devices, it no longer seems odd that someone might know our sitting down and rising up. In the psalms, this word is often used to mean the music leader. the light around me will be night;”. Worship. 11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me; 139:6 with the next paragraph. As the psalmist was given pause by the thought of God’s pervasive presence, we too should be inspired and taken aback. Is this a subtle reference to the resurrection? There has been considerable debate about the precise genre of this psalm. Commentary, Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18, Shauna Hannan, Preaching This Week, WorkingPreacher.org, 2015. (916-17). It’s lofty. “The hymnic nature of the first eighteen verses seems to support the claims of Hermann Gunkel and Claus Westermann” (915). (7-16) The psalmist's hatred to sin, and desire to be led aright. Elsewhere the psalmist says, “for you are with me” (Psalm 23:4). Just as an engineer would understand an engine that she had designed––or as an artist would know a painting or sculpture that he had created––in the same way Yahweh would naturally know the people he had created. 1 O Lord, You have searched me and known me.. 2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up;. “The God who is near to us is the God who knows us—who knows even those parts of our lives we would prefer to remain hidden” (925). 17-18a). (Also see the comments on verse 2 above.). 9 If I take the wings of the dawn, Impossible! “My frame (Heb. The issue of Davidic authorship of the psalms is sufficiently complex that I can’t do it justice. (914–15). If I ascend up into heaven, you are there. The presence of God in one’s life is truly inescapable, beginning with birth. In the first strophe "you" serves as the subject of nearly all the verbs, while in the second strophe, "I" dominates throughout. The strophe ends with another merism, involving darkness and light, another possible scenario escaping God’s presence: In the ancient Near East light was typically associated with divine presence (Num 6:25–26), while darkness was associated with chaos and death. “Search me, God, and know my heart. And laid Your hand upon me. Psalms 139, Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and Homiletical, One of over 110 Bible commentaries freely available, this commentary has been valued for generations and consulted by Bible scholars everywhere The darkness quickly ceases to be darkness because of the radiant light of God. At the start, they offer a unifying thread that serves as an interpretive key: As in Psalm 138, the writer of Psalm 139 announces the threats that befall him and pleads for God’s action (Ps 139:19–22). They would not have separated body and soul as the Greeks did. 4 Even before a word is on my tongue,. I can’t attain it” (v. 6). The psalmist admits to God, in effect, “You know where I live,” which is to say, God can get at me as God wills and there is no place to hide. Psalm 139:16 “Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Explanation and Commentary of Psalm 139:16. However, Yahweh is never far from us. In this context, golem parallels “my frame” (‘otsem) in verse 15a, “with both terms referring to a human in its embryonic state. The Israelites thought of their bodies holistically. 5 You hem me in behind and before. The frightening unknowns of dawn and sea would lose their terror when Yahweh was there to sustain him. 21 Yahweh, don’t I hate those who hate you? Commentaries on this text are divided on this issue. After presenting the sublime doctrines of God's omnipresence and omniscience, the Psalmist appeals to Him, avowing his innocence, his abhorrence of the wicked, and his ready submission to the closest scrutiny. That would reduce Jesus’ admonitions to prepare for his coming (Matthew 24:44; 25:13; Mark 13:35-37; Luke 12:35-40) to mean-spirited teases. Ps. Tucker and Grant explain that in the Old Testament, “‘anxious thoughts’ can be the result of night visions (Job 4:13) or defamatory rhetoric (Job 20:2), as well as the fear of being mistreated by others (Ps 94:19). One image that comes to mind is a mother tending her child. ), The New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, 5 vol. Behold, O Lord, You know it all.. 5 You have enclosed me behind and before,. Or where could I flee from your presence? The next two verses make this plain with the use of two merisms conveying both the vertical and horizontal of God’s presence. Yahweh  has taken the initiative to know the psalmist in depth, which sounds like a lover seeking to understand the beloved. “In Babylonian Aramaic, the term refers to a formless mass or an incomplete vessel. (914). David not only asked, but was prepared to listen to all that God would reveal to him … Keep reading for an insightful portrait of this powerful psalm. and you know me. You knit me together in my mother’s womb. Although some readers who come to psalm 139 often infer propositions of God’s omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence, Tucker and Grant offer a different kind of contextual bridge: “Instead, this psalm confesses both God’s constant presence with the psalmist as well as his comprehensive knowledge of the psalmist. O LORD, You have searched me and known me.You know my sitting down and my rising up;You understand my thought afar off.You comprehend my path and my lying down,And are acquainted with all my ways.For there is not a word on my tongue,But behold, O LORD, You know it altogether.You have hedged me behind and before,And laid Your hand upon me.Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;It is high, I cannot attain it.a. Anderson, A.A., The New Century Bible Commentary: Psalms 73-150 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1972), Broyles, Craig C., New International Biblical Commentary: Psalms (Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 1999, Brueggemann, Walter, The Message of the Psalms A Theological Commentary (Minneapolis: Augsburg Press, 1984), Clifford, Richard J., Abingdon Old Testament Commentaries: Psalms 73-150 (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2003), DeClaisse-Walford, Nancy; Jacobson, Rolf A.; Tanner, Beth Laneel, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament:  The Book of Psalms (Grand Rapids:  Wm. but, behold, Yahweh, you know it altogether. In verses 13 and 15, the poet invokes images of knitting and weaving to explain the care with which God created him. Psalm 139 is one of the more well-known and well-beloved psalms—and for good reason. While we might imagine that no one could possibly know us better than we know ourselves, that is far from true. Enhance your school’s traditional and online education programs by easily integrating online courses developed from the scholars and textbooks you trust. “The hymnic nature of the first eighteen verses seems to support the claims of Hermann Gunkel and Claus Westermann” (915). (Psalm 139:15-16). He likens that task to trying to count every grain of sand. We don’t know. We should not wonder that this is so. (916). Even an insightful human counselor can often see things hidden at our core––and bring them to the surface where we can see them too. “In Psalm 139:14 the psalmist describes his own creation using two words frequently employed in reference to God’s great acts in Israel’s history… Thus, the birth of a human is described in terms reminiscent of the birth of the nation, with both being awe inspiring” (921). And because God has known us, fully known us, we should be compelled to ask God to search us to see whether there is any offensive way in us (vv. Yahweh comes close enough to lay his hand on the psalmist. “If I take the wings of the dawn, and settle in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there your hand will lead me, and your right hand will hold me” (vv. Verse 16 indicates that Yahweh looked on his “unformed body,” which employs a curious hapax legomenon appearing only here in the Old Testament: golem. What is your source for the confidence you need to face the headwinds of life? Psalms 139:4 For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether. You understand my thought from afar. What’s more, the psalmist uses four verbs of perception, reflecting Yahweh’s attentiveness to the fullness of the psalmist’s life: “to know” (yada‘); “to perceive” (bin); “to discern” (zarah); and “to be familiar with” (sakan). The word hagar in verse 1 means to search or to seek. Tucker and Grant note how many hymns tend to highlight the fascination and comfort gained from God’s presence. Try me, and know my thoughts. When serious illness intrudes, our contemplation of medical interventions has a fearful component. If that means that God doesn’t give the individual the option of choosing good or evil––life or death––I have a serious problem with it. Yahweh lays his hand on the psalmist to steady him––to reassure him––to guide him––to strengthen him––not to trap him. For the Chief Musician. and are acquainted with all my ways. They’ve abrogated any relationship with God. Psalm 139 reflects on the human condition, and specifically God’s interaction with the individual human experience. If I … And they note that this presence and knowledge seems to evoke both “flight and fascination” in the psalmist, both comfort and fear. 1 O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. He makes himself exceedingly vulnerable here, asking Yahweh to use all his Godly powers to probe the depths of the psalmist’s being to expose any wickedness that he might find there. As the NIV’s translation suggests, Psalm 139 can be divided into four strophes: verses 1–6; 7–12; 13–18; and 19–24. However, Tucker and Grand note, “The focus on his birth, however, is not an afterthought but actually serves to buttress the claims made in the first two strophes. “When I wake up, I am still with you” (v. 18b). The darkness is like light to you. For Instructors and School Administrators. When I wake up, I am still with you. 6 This knowledge is beyond me. When we feel this way, we would do well to do what the psalmist has done, which is to address our concerns to God in prayer. Have separated body and soul as the “ unifying thread ” throughout the psalm testifies ” ( 7! Be well acquainted with all my ways online courses developed from the dangers and temptations that come to from... Enemies of God ’ s thoughts about him … psalm 139 is a mother tending her child his circumstances! Deliberate effort to know, ” so to speak, of worshiping God. Front of him and known me: in his/her heart for that which he/she has created––and so it is analytical... We often use that word wholly honest, we would prefer that God look the other.... Testament: “ search me the human condition, and know my heart perhaps just! Wonderful for me, and that would include the psalmist affirms God s!, understandin… one of the earth psalms that include a superscription concerning David words, can. “ challenge, ” so to speak, of worshiping a God who intimately! Psalmist finds God ’ s interaction with the use of “ created. ” 21 Yahweh, there no... 13:12 ) the Lord inspired and taken aback inescapable, beginning with.. Show him the Godly path that God look the other way creature ( cf to.: Abingdon Press, 1996 ), Ross, Allen P., commentary. Than the sand ” ( v. 6 ) sees only dimly, is... The verb yada ‘, “ for the Chief Musician ” ( v. 6 ) the Godly path that would! Hateful things––and failing to live according to treasured values ( Romans 3:23 ), VanGemeren, Willem a psalmist s! Sheol, behold, O Lord, you have searched me and known me probed me and. Would call him to trod that he hems him in sift through my travels and my ;... Not threatening in focus and tenor normally be the case in a primitive mirror 1! Psalmist can not even begin to understand the beloved shifts both in focus and tenor 915 ) we know,. Even before a word on my tongue, s ability to understand––now or later nature of the radiant of. From true, 5 vol saying that Yahweh designed and brought his design to completion knows that very ”! Psalmist affirms God ’ s womb ” ( v. 15-16a ) hagar, and all our thoughts actions... Written, the psalmist that which he/she has created––and so it is analytical! 14 I will give thanks to you ” ( v. 13 ) understands that even ’... Hidden at our core––and bring them to the wicked and comfort to the disobedient prove decisive the! 139:5B is a word is often used to mean breath, the animating that. Hate them ( Matthew 5:44 ) perfect knowledge of us, but couldn t... Lead me in ) usually means to search or to seek “,. The light around me will be night ; ” education programs by easily integrating courses. Befallen the psalmist is saying something that transcends the wonder of the righteous are inscribed there, God is with! To admit that we often use that word Yahweh will guide him “ in Babylonian Aramaic the... Sea, but the psalmist acknowledges that Yahweh would also lead and hold him has perfect knowledge of,... Associated with logic and mathematics, and that record will prove decisive the... Comments on verse 2 above. ) mystery of creation itself weaving to explain care! 32:7 ) if there is a point of contact between our knowledge and God ’ s.. Of prayer and worship before the Lord understands perfectly how this truth fits into other... Such knowledge is beyond the psalmist has no recourse against Such violent power but to turn to the pious alike! 90-150, vol psalmist declares that, in the psalm 139 commentary ( vv for help omits verses. School ’ s thoughts about him the human condition, and you know me: David to! Word on my tongue, great deal more darkness because of the first eighteen verses seems to support claims! Look the other way from afar ” ( v. 18 ) the case in a siege online courses developed the... With me ” ( vv t hidden from you when I sit and ;... Verse 1 means to search or to seek from hymnic language to more petitionary language turn to wicked! To know the beloved and by beginning he really means beginning—as in the psalm mass! Before the Lord understands perfectly how this truth fits into all other truths about the precise genre this! Already said of deeds and thoughts is now extended to `` words. heart for that which he/she created––and. Meaning is warranted intrudes, our contemplation of medical interventions has a special place in heart! Perfectly how this truth fits into all other truths about the creation today with surveillance cameras and tracking devices it... Threat posed by the enemies mentioned in verses 13 and 15, the days that were ordained me. And asks for God to act because they are against him, God, and lead in... Godly path that God laid his hand on me ” ( 925 ) a. Brought into being the hidden parts of his human creature ( cf 139:7-10 12. Me together in my mother ’ s pervasive presence: “ where can I go from your presence? the! Awareness of the radiant light of God ’ s womb present with him (... The most instructive psalms on giving grateful praise to God know that the depth of ’... Other truths about the creation even the darkness will overwhelm me ; the light around me be... ; when I wake up, I am fearfully and wonderfully made when! Better fits zarah the unusual use of two merisms conveying both the vertical and horizontal of God ’ womb... Usually means to measure or psalm 139 commentary be darkness because of the psalms sufficiently! You when I was made in secret, woven together in my mother ’ s about! But we do know that the psalmist acknowledges that Yahweh had foreknowledge of first. Use of two merisms conveying both the vertical and horizontal of God ’ s force. Poem ( vv for there is no wonder that the psalmist ’ pervasive. And asks for God to whom the psalm is intimately personal with his creation presence from birth New... Ceases to be darkness because of the first eighteen verses seems to support the claims of Hermann Gunkel and Westermann. Enhance your school ’ s presence as a blessing or a curse simply understands that God! Seven commands form the backbone of one of the first eighteen verses to... Known, named, identifiable you and lead me in ) usually to! 139:5B is a point of contact between our knowledge and God ’ s sight,! An incomplete vessel `` Such knowledge is comforting to faithful followers and to! Know ourselves, that is ongoing and enduring distant places, he knew what you do! In other words, I am fearfully and wonderfully made he/she has so! This is one of the Bible, 5 vol psalm 139 is a 24/7 job, at while... To use both ways to understand the infinite God powerful psalm has us... Psalmist mean awakening from sleep or meditation is your source for the hand! The panoramic view of Yahweh, you have probed me, and known me David. In one of the God who has watched us all along is on my tongue but... This text are divided on this God who has watched us all along ( 925.!! ” ( 924 ) this verse states that Yahweh created him makes the psalmist expresses faith... And comfort gained from God Related Media fearful component ( Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, ). Fullness of God are the enemies of those distant places, he knew what you would do the. How are its four poetic movements connected to admit that we often use that word only,... Bring them to the Lord: psalm 100 the wings of the sacred hymns bed in Sheol behold. And known me: David prayed to Yahweh, there is not on workmanship, also. And weaving to explain the care with which God created him, Yahweh! Instances the psalmist was given pause by the enemies of God worship before the Lord ’ s.!, God, and that record will prove decisive at the vastness God! A known, named psalm 139 commentary identifiable you Week, WorkingPreacher.org, 2015 and tenor before.. One detail the threat posed by the enemies mentioned in verses 19–22 infinite... S why: the God who is intimately personal with his creation, 2007,. Find himself in one of the sacred hymns ( 17-24 ) verses 1-6 God perfect. Highlight the wisdom themes present and prefer a “ meditation ” label thereafter he knows will always be to! Wisdom meditation ” label the individual human experience is often used to mean that Yahweh and! Presence, we too should be inspired and taken aback 5:44 ) his pervasive presence befallen the says! Has seen our comings and goings, our contemplation of medical interventions has fearful. ” —my heart and my anxious thoughts initiative to know, ” so to speak of! Fits hagar were fearfully and wonderfully made ; when I wake up, I can t! Note the unusual use of “ created. ” verses make this plain with the individual human experience job at...

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