Today's Scripture Reading
Search Me, O God, and Know My Heart
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.
139:1 O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
3 You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
4 Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
5 You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it.
7 Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
9 If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light about me be night,”
12 even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with you.
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
24 And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!
Have you heard people say that God is always watching you? Whatever you do, what ever you say, even the very thoughts in your heart, God knows them all. Sometimes when I hear that I think it sounds more like a threat than a comfort -- especially when people say it in that tone of voice which makes me feel guilty no matter how good I’ve been. It makes me feel like there are eyes watching me everywhere, just waiting for me to screw up so I can be found wanting.
The psalmist writes that YHWH knows our words before we speak them, the Lord knows when we sit and stand, God knows our thoughts no matter where we are. Somehow for me, “Where can I go from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence?”, doesn’t read like a threat. It prays like comfort.
Traditionally, this Psalm is attributed to David. David was beloved by God and David really screwed up on more than one occasion. He’s often remembered for seducing a married woman (and she probably didn’t have much choice against King David), then having her husband killed to cover up his own sin. When David was confronted wisely about his sin by a trusted person he earnestly confessed his sin (2 Samuel 12:13). Even so there were terrible consequences to his actions.
Can one who sinned against God in his heart and in his behavior pray this Psalm 139 in comfort instead of threat? It would seem so.
I can’t speak for David, but I am comforted that God would be with me in the darkness, at the furthest limits of the sea, and even in Sheol (the abode of the dead). When I have strayed, when I am lost, when I make mistakes, when I intentionally screw up, God is still with me. Neither my location, nor my behavior will drive God away from me. God knows me intimately and still loves me. God knows the hairs on my head (Matthew 10:30) and still offers grace and mercy. God desires to lead me, not to get me in trouble.
Its not that I think God doesn’t take our sin seriously – just ask David how seriously God takes sin. But God isn’t looking over our shoulders waiting to catch us being bad. God so loves us that God cannot let us go, always healing and working toward right-relationship with and for us.
Holy, Mighty Mothering God,
It doesn’t always feel like you are near. Sometimes it’s because we feel like we don’t deserve your love. Sometimes it’s because we just don’t feel good or things aren’t going our way. Please help us know your faithful love and steadfast presence with each one of us. Teach us to walk in the light of your love, not in fear of your attentiveness. Show us how to carry your love to all of your children.
We pray this in the name of your beloved son, Jesus.
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