Thursday, March 08, 2007

Psalm 139

I always thought the first six verses of Psalm 139 were about God's omniscience, and the next six verses were about His omnipresence. But what if that's not really what it's about?

After all, if He has searched me and known me, if He knows all my ways and the words on my tongue, He knows that I am a sinner. Verse 2 even says He knows my thought "afar off." Well, maybe that means from far away He knows what I'm thinking. Omniscience. Or maybe it means that even though I am afar off (like the prodigal son) He still chooses to know and love me. Mercy.

What about the next section? I always thought it meant that God was everywhere. But, c'mon, "where can I flee from Your presence?" Like, maybe, I want to flee (like that prodigal son)? Like, maybe, I try to flee (like Jonah)? Even if I want the darkness to hide me, He brings light. There's no getting away because He tracks me down, wooing me back, like Hosea going after Gomer. As Pastor Eggert wrote (LSB 558): "O faithful love, that shepherded through faithless years! Forgiving love, that led us to Your truth! Unyielding love, that would not let us turn from You but sent us forth to speak pardon and peace."

And then in verse 17, I always thought that was a declaration that God's thoughts are precious to me. But maybe it's saying that what is precious are His thoughts to me, His thoughts toward me. It makes a difference whether the prepositional phrase is adjectival or adverbial.

"Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me, and know my anxieties;
And see if there is any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting."
Maybe that's a pat on the back for myself, a request for God to check me out and see what a good little Christian I've been, anticipating that His search will expose no "wicked way in me." Or maybe, on the other hand, it is a claim for Him to be faithful to His promises to those who have impure hearts and lives. If we examine ourselves, we find nothing in us but sin and death, from which we can in no wise set ourselves free. Therefore our Lord Jesus Christ has had mercy on us and has taken upon Himself our nature so that He might fulfill for us the whole will and Law of God and for us and for our deliverance suffer death and all that we by our sins have deserved. In other words, He will lead me in the way everlasting, eeeeven though He tested me and found me lacking.

I used to think that this psalm was for the pious and the outwardly holy, and thus it made me chafe a bit. But now I'm wondering if it might be for sinners too.

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