O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. (Psalm 139:1-4 ESV)
It is often said that your character is known by what you do when no one is watching. Of course, the meaning is that of no person watching. It’s a good quote to help us understand who we are. It also reflects the fact that we too easily forget that God is always watching. The reality is, God knows our thoughts even before we have them. We delude ourselves when we think we can somehow fool God into thinking we aren’t as bad as we are. At the same time, we feel compelled to hide things because our guilt is too great to truly bear. We’re afraid that God will reject us if he really knew who we are. This psalm is crushing in the sense that it shows us that it is impossible to hide anything from God.
On the other hand it drives us to embrace the gospel. God knows who we are and he still loves us. Jesus came to deal with the ugliness of our thoughts and the self-centeredness of our hearts. For the Christian, then, this psalm drives us toward a deeper appreciation for the gospel and a better understanding of the extent of God’s love. It is frightening to “expose” ourselves fully to anyone. But the gospel provides the freedom to do so. The deep sense of gratitude that results is the seed of real change, so that it we move from a desire to conceal our hearts to an invitation to reveal our hearts.
Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting! (Psalm 139:23, 24 ESV)
What kinds of things do you hide from others?
Pray this psalm to the Lord and allow the gospel to sink in.
McCheyne’s reading plan: 2 Ch 26, Re 13, Zech 9, Ps 139