Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Psalm 139

I am currently in a class entitled "The Heart of the Matter" which looks at what the heart is, what it does, and how it affects our life. In the first session several verses mentioning the word heart were read and categorized by the action concerning the heart. One of those was:
Psalm 139:23-24 (ESV)
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!

There was plenty of discussion over what David thought and felt when writing this, but one comment struck me because it was based on: 1) the context of the psalm—a rare occurrence in evangelicalism; and 2) David's understanding of God's intimate and detailed knowledge of the individual. A rough outline of the psalm looks like this:
1. God's Familiarity as Seen in His Attributes
    a. Omniscience (1-6)
    b. Omnipresence (7-12)
    c. Foreknowledge (13-16)
2. Proper Response
    a. Delighting in God's Knowledge (17-18)
    b. Following God's heart (19-22)
    c. Requesting continued work (23-24)
The comment previously mentioned was from verse one, "you have searched me and known me." How often do we think about that? How often would we want to? I am like most other people and relish in the comfort that nobody with whom I have contact can read my thoughts unless I voice them, and even then they are heavily edited. To borrow a phrase, what happens in my thoughts, stays in my thoughts. The potentially unpleasant fact is that God knows.

Here is a thought-provoking question: how would I think differently if I understood that God was listening? Here is another: should I think differently knowing that God is listening? I leave the former question for you to ponder, but to the latter question, a typical Christian would say, "Yes, of course." I say, "It depends." If I am a new believer, this seems to be an obvious conclusion that I do not yet have a handle on, and that is fine as long as there is progress. If I am an older believer, this question should not even arise since the Lord's presence will be known daily. Remember how David was a man after God's own heart? He understood the Lord's presence. And when caught red-handed and red-faced in murder and adultery (Uriah and Bathsheba), he confessed immediately. David's sin caused a momentary break concerning God's familiarity, but it was revived through the accusation, and action was taken.

So what is my reaction to this wonderful news? Do I use that understanding to purge sin from my life? Do I hate the things God hates and love what he loves? Do I delight in worship the Lord for his familiarity with me?

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