Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, July 21st, 2024
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 139

Smith's WritingsSmith's Writings

Verses 1-24


The godly man welcomes the searchings of God into the inmost recesses of his heart, desiring that he may be delivered from every evil way and led “in the way everlasting.”

In the experience of the psalmist the consciousness of the omniscience of God at first plunges his soul into the deepest distress as he thinks of his own broken responsibilities towards God. When, at length, he realizes that God's “works” and God's “thoughts” are toward him in grace, the omniscience of God becomes the source of his deepest comfort.

(vv. 1-6) Psalm 138 had closed with the recognition that we are the work of God's hands. This psalm opens with the realization that, if this is so, we must be fully known to God, and ever in His hands. Thus the first six verses speak of the omniscience of God. First, we are searched and known (vv. 1-2); furthermore God searches into our paths, and takes note of all our ways: lastly, His hand is upon us, dealing with us according to His perfect knowledge. Such knowledge is too wonderful for us.

(vv. 7-12) Thinking of his own failure in responsibility, the godly man is overwhelmed in the presence of the omniscience of God. He would fain flee from the presence of God, and escape His all-searching gaze. He finds, however, that God is not only omniscient but also omnipresent. There is no escape from the Spirit of God; no place that God cannot penetrate; no solitude where God is not; no darkness that can hide from God.

(vv. 13-18) Here, however, there comes a great change in his experiences, as the result of turning from himself, and his own works, to God and His marvellous works as the Creator. With this change of experience he breaks into praise. He realizes that he is God's possession, formed by God for God's own purposes settled before ever he was fashioned. Above all, he realizes that God's thoughts are towards him and not against him. They are precious and beyond comprehension. God is not only for him, but he is ever with God, the object of His unceasing care.

(vv. 19-24). Conscious that God is with him, the godly man realizes that he cannot associate with the wicked, who will be dealt with in judgment as those that speak against God.

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Hamilton. "Commentary on Psalms 139". "Smith's Writings". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/hsw/psalms-139.html. 1832.
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