O Lord, you have searched me and known me! - Psalm 139:1
God knows each of us through and through. Do we consider it? A.W. Tozer exposes us when he writes in God’s Pursuit of Man,
Are you aware of the living God, the great I AM, the one who understands you and knows what you need before you ask him? How often do we see God all in our past, and expect him to inhabit our future, yet our present — the second of time inching along — seems vacant of God?
Psalm 139 reintroduces us to the God who sees us, knows us, and loves his people. The God who is bigger and nearer than we thought.
David introduces us to the God who knows us exhaustively. Consider just the first six verses.
“O Lord,” David begins, “you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar” (Psalm 139:1–2).
This God ruling above searches us, knows us, even to the minute details. Reader, are you sitting or standing? On your phone or your laptop? He knows. What consumed your thoughts ten minutes ago? He knows that too: he discerns our thoughts from afar. Though he rules heaven, he is not too far to hear the whispered secrets in the inner chambers of our mind. Is this the God you worship?
“You search out my path and my lying down,” David continues, “and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether” (Psalm 139:3–4).
He pays attention to what we do. Life has no incognito window. Nothing we do exists outside of the surveillance of God. He is acquainted with all our ways. So intimately is he connected with us that before a thought travels from our brain to our tongues, he knows what is coming. He inhabits our unfinished sentences. The crevice between ideation and speech is not too small for him to notice. Is this the God you pray to at night?
“You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it” (Psalm 139:5–6).
This God, who is bigger than we think, is not just a passive observer. Verse 5 contains a war metaphor: God encompasses you like a besieging army. You go to charge forward — he is there. You turn to retreat — he is waiting for you. You desperately turn to the right — there he stands. A glance to the left holds the same sight. You are surrounded by God.
And he does not watch us, but he lays his hand upon our lives. This God does not simply watch us like we watch a lion at the zoo. There is no glass; nothing separates us. He lays his hand upon us as he pleases. Is this the God you speak of in evangelism?
God knows us in and out. By itself, this is a horrifying prospect. Unsaved, we are loathsome worms under a holy God’s gaze, inciting divine vengeance with every wiggle of sin. Imagine what kind of enemy this all-knowing, everywhere-all-the-time God makes. There is no hiding from him. There is no secrecy, no surprise attacking, no escaping. Yet David implores God at the end of the psalm to continue searching him and knowing him (verses 23–24). What explains this insanity?