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Exploring the Psalms
Psalm 139

Exploring the Psalms

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Exploring the Psalms
Psalm 139 

Read : Psalm 139 

Psalm 139 is an incredibly beautiful Psalm in which we hear the Psalmist praising his Creator God.  

It's a Psalm of personal prayerful worship to a majestic marvellous God who knows us completely for He created and shaped us in His image. Long before we drew our first breath God knew our name, our names are written on His heart, each of us precious in His sight, fearfully and wonderfully made, continually being woven together and formed into who He wants us to be, we are His masterpiece, our lives are like a fine tapestry skilfully designed and woven together by God, the great artist and creator of all.  

This psalm celebrates the wonder of human creation, that each of us is lovingly created and cared for by God. It shows us God's all-encompassing love for us, how He is constantly with us and will never leave us and in that context it has sometimes been described as the ultimate feel good psalm, the equivalent of 5 self-help books, or a long, hot bubble bath with candles, wine and chocolate. It has the power to soothe, to comfort, to ground you and inspire you, if you allow it to.  

There may be times when you wonder whether your life really matters, in the vastness of creation you may feel small and insignificant, circumstances may make you feel distant from God, and if you do feel like that, I encourage you to take time to read this Psalm and really let the words sink into your heart and realise how much you matter to God. God created every part of you, you are uniquely designed with your own specific gifts and talents, God made you for a reason, He has a purpose and plan for you, your life is not an accident or a mistake, your parents may not have planned you, but God did.  

Long before you were conceived by your parents, you were conceived in the mind of God. It says in Ephesians 1, 'Long before he laid down the earth's foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of His love' and in James 1 it says that 'God decided to give us life through the word of truth so we might be the most important of all the things he made.' This is how much God loves and values each of us, in His eyes we are His beautiful creation and He smiles with love when He thinks of each of us.  

Russell Kelfer writes a poem which sums up how we are created for a purpose as he says; 'You are who you are for a reason. You're part of an intricate plan. You're a precious and perfect unique design, called God's special woman or man. You look like you look for a reason. Our God made no mistake. He knit you together within the womb, you're just what he wanted to make. The parents you had were the ones he chose, and no matter how you may feel, they were custom-designed with God's plan in mind, and they bear the Master's seal. No, that trauma you faced was not easy, and God wept that it hurt you so; but it was allowed to shape your heart so that into his likeness you'd grow. You are who you are for a reason, you've been formed by the Master's rod. You are who you are, beloved, because there is a God!'  

The Psalmist knows deep in his heart that he is who he is because he is created by a loving God, he praises God because he is fearfully and wonderfully made, he knows all God's works are wonderful and find's comfort in God's love. We too can find comfort in God's complete care of us knowing that He is constantly with us, He will never leave us and nothing can ever separate us from His love. God is the maker and keeper of our days, the God of our present, past and future, all our times are safe in His hands.  

We are held in His love, strengthened and sustained by His presence and so have no need to fear as He is always near. God's loving presence is comforting to us all and yet it can also feel confronting coming face to face with our own identity of who we are, realising that God knows everything about us and is familiar with all our ways, there is no where we can hide from God, even before we make any effort to know Him, He knows us inside out. 

An all-seeing, all knowing God has the potential to make us feel afraid, knowing someone has access to our every thought, our hurts, our fears, our weaknesses, knowing how we really feel inside. There are no secrets as God sees every nook and cranny of our lives and our first instinct is probably to want to try and escape from His gaze for fear of total exposure for who we really are. But nothing is hidden from God. We can't introduce ourselves to God as the person we want to be tomorrow, or next week, nor can we pretend that we are someone we are not. Try as we might, we can't hide our true nature from God, there is no pretending with God. God is not fooled by outward appearances but looks into the heart and knows what is really there.  

I'm sure we've all had thoughts and secrets that we are not happy or comfortable with, and if we were to imagine our every thought was displayed on the wall for all to see, I doubt we would feel too comfortable and probably wouldn't want to stay around for a reaction. Even though we may have close friends who we would discuss deep secrets and thoughts with, none of us reveals everything, generally trying to present our best side so people see us for our virtues not our vices. We may not know each other's thoughts, yet God knows all our thoughts. He knows us even better than we know ourselves and instead of feeling comforting that may feel quite confronting.  

And yet the all-seeing, all-knowing God is not like a giant surveillance camera in the sky, God is not trying to catch us out but rather watching over us in love and compassion. He is like the doting parent who never takes his eyes off his children. Even in the dark places such as the womb which is out of sight to people, God sees us and cares for us, He is always within our reach and despite knowing all our faults, God accepts us as we are and loves us with an unconditional love.  

How amazing to know that God knows us completely and yet still in love He desires to have a relationship with us. Our Creator God is forever with us which can be both beautiful and burdensome, comforting and confronting. The Psalmist acknowledges this and yet still is able to celebrate the wonder of who he is as part of God's creation. He is blown away by this concept realising it is beyond his comprehension but still he is convinced of God's great love for him and in that conviction he recognises his responsibility to reflect on his character and so discover his true identity as part of God's creation.  

Accepting ourselves as part of God's creation always comes with responsibility, a responsibility to see ourselves and others through God's eyes and to care for all his creation, to share his love while also standing up for Gospel values even if that means showing anger and hatred as we seek justice and peace.  

The Psalmist shows his loyalty to God in saying he loves what God loves and hates what God hates. His words which may seem harsh are not meant to be seen as an opportunity to seek some sort of revenge on those whom we don't like but rather it is a calling for God to remove all that is evil, to get rid of all that is opposed to the one who lovingly and with great care knits each of his creatures together.  

The Psalmist is so convinced of his intimate connection with God that an assault on his identity is an assault on God and likewise an assault on God's identity is an assault on his own and so the Psalmist then requests that any such evil should also be sought out from himself as he prays to God to examine his thoughts. 

This Psalm is comforting, confronting, convincing and also challenging. It challenges us to accept the openness of a true relationship with God, to be known completely by God and to allow God to search us so we can discover our true identity in Him, enabling us to grow in Him and become more like Him. That means accepting our failings, our struggles and weaknesses knowing that as we hand these over to God, we will find strength in our weakness, security amidst our insecurities as we experience the wonder of God's limitless love for us.  

We are in the hands of a love that will not let us go, it is not our weak hold of God that is important but it is His mighty grasp of us that matters.  

But the question is, are we able to and do we really want to accept this offer from God, the God who is acquainted with all our ways? Will we let God's hand rest upon us and fill us with a peaceful love for ourselves as God's beautiful creations? Will we let God mould us and make us into the people He wants us to be?  

This Psalm is one of great intimacy which comforts, confronts, convinces and challenges us to abide in God's love and to live our lives according to His will. May we, like the Psalmist, be open to a true relationship with our Creator God and may our prayer also be that God would examine us, get rid of anything that hinders us from following His way and so may we truly find our identity in Him and let Him lead us in the everlasting way.  


Creator God, we pray that you would help us to be secure in the knowledge of who we are in You, to live in Your truth and Your way, not trying to be anyone else but always striving to be the person You want us to be and so fulfilling Your purpose. Search us O God, and know our hearts, test us and know our anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in us, and lead us in the way everlasting. Amen.


Note - The video based on this soul space, can be found here : https://youtu.be/Uc7pkhGe1oE

Iona Pringle, 2015


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