Searched, Known, and Loved: Psalm 139

Delivered 8 September 2019.

Have you ever wondered what’s the point of it all?

David knew. If anyone knew anything about the point of life, David knew. You can’t go from a sheep’s pen to a throne room without realizing God has a plan for our lives.

Today’s sermon text not only confirms that life has a point, it affirms that God cares about us and helps us to the point. In one of the most beautiful psalms you’ll find in Scripture, David wrote of the care of God, the wonder of God, and the plan of God for us.

David opened by assuring us of God’s knowledge of every person who ever lived. “O LORD, you have searched me and known me!” In his life, David had come to realize that God had examined him; God knew everything about him. God knew everything that David did. God knew everything David ever thought. God knew every word David said, and He knew the words David intended to say before he said them. God knew every word David thought of saying but decided to withhold. God knew every action David had ever taken, and He knew the intent behind those actions.

God’s protection of David brought comfort at times, but it sometimes troubled him as well. “You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.” Imagine cupping your hand and putting it over something so it cannot escape, and you’ll see David’s imagery here. Nothing could reach David in God’s hand, but he also couldn’t escape God’s presence, either.

David’s realization of God’s knowledge and protection overwhelmed him: “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.” David came to understand that God knew every intimate detail of his life. God knew everything about David, even those things David didn’t know, even those things David wished He didn’t know. God knew both the good and bad in David, both the conscious and the subconscious.

If this kind of knowledge frightens you, David would understand. The thought of escape flew into David’s mind: “Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence?” How many of us have wished God didn’t know anything about us? How many have wished we could flee from God? How many of us have tried to flee from God?

David wanted to run from God, but God’s omnipresence kept him from escaping.

“If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. 

“If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,’ even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.”

Regardless of where David thought of running, he knew no one could run from God; nowhere in the universe — or outside it — exists outside of God’s awareness. In our worst moments, we want to flee from God, but in our best moments, we realize God’s protection keeps us from trouble, and His Spirit guides us through the trials we face in life.

God guides us because He creates us for a purpose. David’s vivid description of God’s forming him in the womb reminds us of Jeremiah’s calling to the prophetic ministry over 400 years later. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1: 5). St. Paul wrote nearly 650 years after Jeremiah that God “had set me apart before I was born” (Galatians 1:15).

Since God created David for a purpose, David could rest in God’s care; David could trust in God’s provision. David understood God constantly kept him in His mind. “How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you.” When David faced Goliath, God remembered him. When David ran through the desert to escape Saul, God went with him. When the Philistines killed Saul, God stayed with David and protected him as he ruled Israel.

David understood God had chosen him to rule Israel. God had chosen David to bring justice to his kingdom. David prayed God would “slay the wicked” so his people would live in righteousness. David hated those who hated God, even counting them among his “enemies.”

David knew God’s purpose for his life included faithfulness to His covenant and righteous living. Because he had trusted in God, David could ask God to “search” him and “know” his heart. David knew God’s ultimate purpose for him would lead him “in the way everlasting” because God loved him with an everlasting love.

This brings us to the question I asked at the beginning. Have you ever wondered what’s the point of it all? David’s psalm declares, in glorious fashion, God’s point to life for us.

David’s descendant, Jesus, fulfills this psalm in perfect fashion. Jesus told Nicodemus the reason for God’s care for us: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:16-17).

God planned Jesus’ life from His birth by the Virgin Mary, throughout His ministry in Galilee, to His crucifixion and resurrection. Jesus’ resurrection made possible God’s ultimate plan for creation: The redemption of humanity from sin and the defeat of death. Now, everyone who confesses Jesus as Lord, believing in His resurrection, receives salvation from sin and death; every believer receives the right to a relationship with God.

Because of Jesus, we know God still creates us for a purpose. You cannot achieve that purpose without God’s aid. You exist for a purpose only you can achieve. You have a part in God’s plan for the ministry of the Church. 

You may not comprehend God’s plan for your life, especially since no one receives a written-out copy of God’s plan at birth. We must live by faith, knowing that God’s wondrous thoughts for us assure He will accomplish His plan for us, protecting and guiding us through life.

Lastly, we know that plan will lead us in “the way everlasting.” That “way” begins with our spiritual birth as we confess Jesus as Lord of our lives, believing in His resurrection. God guides us in that way through Scripture, prayer, worship, and fellowship with other believers. God’s way challenges us at times when we wish we could escape God’s care, but it also comforts us when we remember God provides for all those who live by faith, believing in Jesus and living rightly before God.

David looked for an everlasting life. His descendant, Jesus, died and rose again to bring everlasting life. God has searched you, He knows you, and He loves you with an everlasting love. Live assured in God’s care for you, knowing He will bring you to an eternal life in a new heaven and new earth, resting in His eternal love.