• The Bible Studies for Life lesson for Jan. 19 focuses on Psalm 139.
I lay on the exam table as the doctor moved the wand over my abdomen. Black and gray blobs moved across the screen, and I strained to make sense of the grainy image. Then suddenly I could see the baby’s face. “Look,” the doctor said, “you can see her lips moving.”
I watched my unborn baby smack her lips and laughed as she kicked at the ultrasound wand. I knew her before she was born, beginning to learn the way she jumped at loud noises and kicked when her brother and sister talked to my tummy. Even before she took her first breath, she was known and loved.
God’s knowledge of us
God’s knowledge of us is even more personal and intimate than a mother and her child. Psalm 139 speaks of God’s complete knowledge of us. God has searched us and knows our thoughts. He knows our every move; even the words we will say before we speak them. He knows our fears and our failures. He sees our dreams and our hopes. All we lock away and try to keep hidden and secret is fully known to God. God knows us, and he loves us anyway.
There is vulnerability in being known by God. For most of us, there are few people we allow into the inner circles of our lives. That’s a healthy decision; not everyone who comes into our life should get to access the core of who we are. Yet we also recognize that as much as we crave being known, it also carries risk. Showing the truth about our deepest thoughts and longings opens the way to deeper relationships, but it also creates the possibility of pain if those feelings are rejected or misunderstood.
We may feel the same fear when we think about standing before the penetrating sight of the living God, but there is no risk in God’s knowledge of us. Psalm 139 doesn’t paint a picture of a God who is out to exploit our weaknesses or judge our failures. Instead, the psalmist finds security in God’s intimate knowledge. It is a portrait of a God who knows us, formed us and lovingly ordained a purpose for us before we ever came to be.
Intimately involved with creation
Psalm 139 describes God as personally and intimately involved with our creation. God is an artist who knits and weaves us together in the womb (Psalm 139:13, 15). God knew us before we were born and shaped us with a divine purpose in mind (Psalm 139:16; Ephesians 2:10). Our lives matter because God has imbued them with purpose. We are not just cosmic accidents. The stars, fate or circumstances do not dictate our lives. Our Creator ordained our days before we drew our first breath. Our lives are the gift of God, and we are meant to spend them for his glory.
This knowledge should shape how we see God. God is not a distant watchmaker who set up the world and left it to run undisturbed. We serve a loving, personal God who knows us intimately and cares for us more than we can imagine. We dare not forget his justice, and we rightfully tremble at his holiness. Yet through it all flows a current of love deeper and wider and stronger than we can fully comprehend. God knows us. God loves us. He intimately involved himself in our creation and created us with a purpose. It is reason to praise him.
How we see others
God’s intimate knowledge of us shapes how we see God, but it also should shape how we see others. Psalm 139 shows us life is precious to God. As John Goldingay points out in his commentary on the Psalms, the psalm should not be read simply as a proof-text against abortion, but it does teach every life is the work of a loving creator. Ending a pregnancy is not just about what happens to the woman’s body. Terminating a pregnancy also terminates a work God intimately is involved in creating. Life is a gift from our loving Creator, and we should not treat that lightly.
The same knowledge that spurs us to value the unborn should also spur us to value the lives of those around us. Psalm 139 portrays God as the author and creator of life—every life. Every person walking the face of the globe is known and purposed by the same God who loved and created us. God knows the prostitute and her pimp.
God loves them all
He knows the homeless man under the bridge and the woman sitting silently in the nursing home. The orphan, the drug dealer, the immigrant, the AIDS patient and the guy at work you can’t stand—God knows and loves them all. Their days also are written in God’s book. It is our job as the church to call them to the eternal purpose for which they were created.
We proclaim the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ and declare our God redeems. We show them love, and we sing the praises of our God who knows us and loves us completely. We do all this so when they come to know him, we can praise his glorious name together. God knows us. God made us. God loves us. Let us praise him.