Rev. L. Althouse
March 19, 2006
Background Scripture: Psalms 139.
Devotional Reading: Psalms 100.
Whenever I come to verses 19 to 22 in Psalm 139, they hit me like a speed bump on a super highway: “O that thou wouldst slay the wicked … Do I not hate them that rise up against thee? I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them my enemies.”
Some scholars believe these four verses, so different in their content and purpose, do not belong in this psalm. Perhaps a copyist inadvertently inserted them. (Read the psalm without them and see what I mean.).
But, let’s assume these verses were originally a part of it. Dr. W. Stuart McCullough said: “… it is true that human nature, even when sanctified by a deep religious faith, displays curious inconsistencies.”
Any of us, no matter how spiritually evolved we may be, may inexplicably revert to feelings, words and actions incongruous with the best that we know.
A spiritual jewel
The Psalmist was not a Christian. His attitude toward enemies - his and God’s - is consistent with much, but not all, of the Old Testament. Unlike the Psalmist, we cannot say we didn’t know we weren’t supposed to hate our enemies. So, it doesn’t matter whether these verses are original, the rest of the psalm is a spiritual jewel.
There are five different facets: vs. 1-6, God’s omniscience; vs. 7-12, God’s omnipresence; vs. 13-18, God fashioned him from a plan; vs. 19-22, a prayer against their common enemies; and vs. 23 and 24, a final prayer of submission to God. While some psalms are hymns in form and were probably sung, this one is essentially a prayer of praise and petition.
In summing up vs. 1 to 6, it was easy to characterize these words as recognition of God’s omniscience, a theological term meaning “God knows all.” But, typically Hebrew, the psalmist does not deal with theological concepts, but personal experiences. Even if there were a Hebrew word for it, the psalmist would still focus on his experience with God: “Thou knowest me when I sit down and rise up; thou discernest my thoughts from afar.” (v. 2)
I do not care if you do not know or use the term “omniscience,” but I do pray that you may have the realization that God knows you deeply and totally. He is the one entity from whom you can hide nothing. It is frightening to know that God knows our deepest thoughts, feelings and acts, but it is also wonderful to realize that God can know all that there is to be known about us and still love us.
Once again, I do not care if you use the term “omnipresent,” so long as you personally realize that wherever you go - geographically or spiritually - you are never anywhere that he cannot find you and be with you. Jonah tried it and personally experienced the inescapable presence of God. That, too, is sobering, but still good news.
So, too, is the realization that God literally has fashioned each of us with a personal plan and design. “… in thy book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” (v. 16)
Although we cannot think the thoughts of God, neither are they alien from us, because it was from his thoughts that we were designed, conceived and born. “How precious to me are thy thoughts, O God!” And how wonderful that “when I awake, I am still with thee.”
The closing verses tell us that that he has meditated upon God’s all-knowing ever-presence. So, instead of trying to hide, he invites God in: “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (vs. 22, 23)
Go and do likewise.
This farm news was published in the March 15, 2006 issue of Farm World.