Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, July 24th, 2024
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
For 10¢ a day you can enjoy StudyLight.org ads
free while helping to build churches and support pastors in Uganda.
Click here to learn more!

Bible Commentaries
Psalms 139

Wells of Living Water CommentaryWells of Living Water

Verses 1-24

Thou God Seest Me

Selections from Psalms 139:1-24


The world today needs a new vision of the Deity of Christ. Our Lord Jesus has been dragged down from His place of authority and power, until the men of the world would leave us nothing but a great man as our Lord and Saviour.

The Christ of the Bible was God manifest in the flesh. He was the One who was on earth, and came down from Heaven, even the One who was in Heaven. He was the One who knew all things, who looked into the heart of man, who laid bare their innermost secrets.

The Christ of the Bible was the Christ of God's eternal now. He was the One who could say, "Before Abraham was, I am." He could even say, "Before the day was, I am." Reaching back into the eternity past, He could say, "The glory which I had with Thee before the world was." Looking on into the eternal future, He could say, And now Father, "I come to Thee."

Known unto God are all His works from before the foundation of the world. Known unto God are all things yet to be revealed to saints. See Ephesians 2:7 . He is the Alpha and the Omega. He is the beginning and the end. He is the First and the Last. In Him all move, and live, and have their being. His eye beholdeth all things, and all things move at His will.

Of old, God looked down, from Heaven and saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth. He even saw that every imagination of the thoughts of man's heart was only evil continually.

God looked down from Heaven and saw the abominations of Sodom and Gomorrah, and said that the cry of the city "is come up before Me."

God saw Abraham as he raised his hand to slay his son. God saw Jacob as he slept with his head upon a stone. God saw Moses as he turned aside to behold the wonders of the burning bush.

God beheld the perfidy of Achan as he hid the gold, and the silver, and the Babylonian garments, in his tent. God saw the insurrection of Korah and of Abiram, and the earth opened up her mouth and swallowed them up. God saw the hypocrisy of King Saul, and announced his destruction.

Let not the sinner imagine that he can hide any thing from God; for, the darkness and the light are the same to Him.

God not only sees the wickedness of the wicked, but He beholds the righteousness of the righteous.

God saw the shepherd lad, the son of Jesse, as he moved among the flock; and, when Jesse brought forth his sons, He refused them one by one. He said unto Samuel concerning Eliab, "Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart." Thus it was that David, and not Eliab, nor Abinadab, nor Shamman, was chosen of God.

God looked upon Mary, espoused to Joseph, He knew the beauty of her character, the strength of her purpose, and He chose her to be mother to Christ.

God looked upon Saul of Tarsus; looked beneath the bitterness of his spirit, and the ruggedness of his ways, and He stopped him on the Damascus road and said, "Why persecutest thou Me?" This man was chosen by God as a vessel to bear His Name before Gentiles, and kings, and the Children of Israel, before ever he saw the light of day.

Christ saw Zacchaeus in the tree. Saw the purpose of his heart and the longing of his soul. Christ saw the woman who was a sinner weeping at His feet; and, though Simon said that He knew not that she was a sinner, yet Christ did know, and He said, "Her sins, which are many, are forgiven."

"Come near me, O my Saviour!

Thy tenderness reveal:

Oh, let me know the sympathy

Which Thou for me dost feet!

I need Thee every moment;

Thine absence brings dismay;

But when the tempter hurls his darts,

'Twere death with Thee away!"


We wonder how many stand with awe before the words of our text. Does it solemnize the heart to know that God has searched us and known us? Does it startle us, to realize that God knows our downsitting and our uprising, and understands our thoughts afar off?

We have before us God's X-ray picture of our heart. He looks into the innermost recesses of our being. Do we cringe? Do we seek to draw away from Him? Or, do we gladly lay bare our whole being, saying, "Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me"?

1. Let us consider the thoroughness of God's knowledge. Surely, there is nothing hid from His eyes. He knows us altogether. We are naked and open before the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. If we think that we can ascend some mountain-top where He cannot find us, we deceive ourselves. If we imagine that we can hide away to some depth or abyss where He cannot pursue us, we are deceived.

We remember how a young Scotchman left home to flee from his mother's prayers, and from her daily testimony and pleas. He reached New York City, employed himself as coachman to a rich New Yorker. The next day he was told to drive his master to the church, and as the master left the coach he said to the driver, "Are you a Christian?" The coachman cried out, "I came all the way from Scotland to hide from God, but I find Him here."

2. Let us consider the purpose of God's search. Why does God look into the heart? Is it that He may find the evil that lurks within, and slay us; or, is it, that, finding the evil, He may provide the remedy? "He knoweth our frame. He remembereth that we are dust." Does He not then pity us, "like as a father"?

David wanted the Lord to search him out, that He might lead him in the way everlasting.

II. "THOU COMPASSEST MY PATH" (Psalms 139:3-4 )

Three things are stated in Psalms 139:3 and Psalms 139:4 .

1. We are told that our path and our lying down are "compassed"; that is, God has surrounded our path and our lying down. The word seems to suggest that we are hedged in by the Almighty. We cannot walk beyond the limit of His watchful eye. Even though we lie down and rest, we are lying down within the shelter of His care.

These words may strike terror to the wicked. Yet, they bear consolation to the saved. The hedge which God put around Job was his security and protection. When God compasses our path and our lying down, He not only keeps us from getting beyond the circle of His love and care, but He also keeps any and every opposing force from breaking through that circle.

There is no arrow flying by day, and no pestilence stalking by night, that can come nigh our dwelling. God garrisons us round about. We are sheltered under His wings.

2. We are told that God is acquainted with all our ways. In Job we read, "Acquaint now thyself with Him." Here we read that He is acquainted not only with us, but with our ways.

The word "acquaint" carries with it the thought of intimate relationship. It enters into the details of life. It conveys the idea of personal interest.

The Lord Jesus on one occasion said, that He and the Father would come in and take up Their abode with us. Such Heavenly comradeship is most delightful to the loving trusting heart.

3. We are told that there is not a word in our tongue but that the Lord knoweth it altogether. Our conversation is in Heaven. Our words must judge us in that day. If our words are pure, and lovely, and of good report, we will have nothing to fear. If, however, our words have been stout against the Lord, we may well tremble in His presence.

'Tis good to dwell where all is well,

Within the secret place;

God, the Most High, is always nigh

To those who seek His face.

My God alway, my Rock and Stay,

Thou art my fortress strong;

On battlefield my sword and shield.

My victory and song.

We will abide and safely hide

Under His shelt'ring care;

There, 'neath His wing, we'll trust and sing,

Safe from the tempter's snare.

Terror by night, nor arrow's flight,

Shall make our soul afraid;

Naught can alarm; no foe can harm;

In Him our trust is stayed.

Tho' thousands fall, God's over all;

He'll safely bring us through:

His angels guard, and keep their charge,

And render service true.


Once more three things are suggested:

1. Thou hast beset me behind. The 23rd Psalm says, "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life." Some one has suggested that "goodness and mercy" are the shepherd dogs that protect the rearward of our march. God is behind us to guard us and befriend us, but He is also behind us so that we cannot turn around and escape Him. He besets us. He is a wall through which we cannot pass.

Jonah thought that he would flee from the presence of God. So instead of going to Nineveh, he took ship to Tarshish. We know very well the folly of his attempt, for the Lord would not let him go, but caused him to be thrown from the ship that he might be swallowed of a prepared fish and carried to the land.

2. Thou hast beset me before. There are some who think that they can escape God, but this is impossible. There is nowhere that we can go from His Spirit. There is no place that we can flee from His presence. If we go to the rearward He is there. If we go forward, He is there. We cannot even go upward; for, if we ascend into Heaven, He is there. We cannot escape by going downward; for, if we make our bed in hell, He is there. If we take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, His hand will lead us, and His right hand will hold us. If, in our vanity, we say, "Surely the darkness shall cover me," "even the night shall be light about me."

3. Thou hast laid Thine hand upon me. We remember preaching in the Baptist Temple in Charleston, W. Va. In the center of the dome, in the main auditorium, a great eye was painted. That eye was ever looking down. It seemed to be saying to us, "Thou God seest me." Does fear come into our soul as we have thought of these statements, concerning the all-observing Jehovah? It should rather rejoice our heart.

Does the little violet, blooming alone 'neath the dark blue sky cringe with fear because it lies exposed to wind and sky and star? Does it not, the rather, feel that all of these are working for its good.

"When through the deep waters I call thee to go,

The rivers of sorrow shall not overflow,

For I will be with thee thy trials to bless,

And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress,

"When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,

My grace all sufficient shall be thy supply;

The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design

Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine."

IV. "THOU HAST POSSESSED MY REINS" (Psalms 139:13-15 )

We are now carried back to the beginning of things. Before ever we saw the light of day, God's watchful eye beheld us, and His loving care overshadowed us. Our substance was not hid from Him when we were made in secret.

Paul wrote that God had called him, saved him by His grace, having separated him unto Himself, before he was born. However, God did not reveal Himself unto Paul, until that remarkable light from Heaven shone upon him on the Damascus road. My father has told me that I was dedicated to the ministry before I was born, but this was only my parent's dedication. Firmly do I believe that God took hold of the reins which have directed my life, long before my parents yielded me to God, How does the knowledge of the predestinating God affect us? We read that we are chosen in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love. We read that we have been predestinated unto the adoption of children. We read that the inheritance which we have obtained was wrought out according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things according to the counsel of His will.

These things should cheer us, and fill our lips with praise. David, seeing all of this, immediately cried out, in spirit, "I will praise Thee." Shall we not also praise? Would we rather live a hit-and-miss life, without any God to plan our being, or to direct our steps?

We have often spoken of the helplessness of a little babe as it lay in its mother's arms. That babe is more helpless than a newborn chick. And yet, the infant who utters its first little cry is sheltered by a mother's love. Beyond that mother's love, however, and beyond the arms of men, is the love of the great and eternal God who watches over us, and loves and cares. Surely we will rejoice and praise God for these things. Is it nothing to us that God's eye saw our substance when we were yet imperfect? Is it nothing to us that all of our members were written in God's Book, when as yet there was none of them?

Surely, we will now love Him the more and trust Him the stronger. With John, we will steal a little closer to our Saviour and our Lord, and lean our head upon His breast.

"Hold Thou my hand; so weak I am and helpless,

I dare not take one step without Thy aid;

Hold Thou ray hand; for then, O loving Saviour,

No dread of ill shall make my soul afraid.

Hold Thou my hand, and closer, closer draw me

To Thy dear self my hope, my joy, my all;

Hold Thou my hand, lest haply I should wander,

And, missing Thee, my trembling feet shall fall."


We now come to that part of the Psalm which reveals David's own conception of his words. Two things throb in his mind, as he is borne along by the Spirit:

1. The preciousness of God's thoughts toward him. How great was the sum of them! They were more in number than the sand.

Thus did David feel toward the omniscient God, He reveled in the tender considerations of his Lord. He rejoiced that his God knew him, understood him, even to his innermost soul, Instead of seeking to fly from God's presence, he would fly into His arms; instead of seeking to hide himself from God in the heights, or in the depths, or under coyer of the darkness, he would hide himself in the light of His countenance.

Adam, the disobedient, might endeavor to hide from God among the trees of the garden, but, not so, the one whose sins are forgiven, and whose transgressions are covered. "If we walk in the light, as He is in the light," we have fellowship with Him.

We who are in Christ Jesus are made nigh by the Blood of Christ. We are no longer dwelling in the far country. We are basking in the sunshine of His face. Enoch was not afraid to walk with God, for he knew God. Abraham had no fear of going out with God, even though he knew not whither he went. Abraham was the friend of God. Moses was not afraid when God spoke to him face to face, as when a man speaketh unto a man, for, as the Lord spoke unto Moses, so did he.

2. The fear of God upon the wicked. In Psalms 139:19 of our Psalm we read, "Surely Thou wilt slay the wicked, O God." He who is disobedient may well tremble before the revelation of God's presence and knowledge, as set forth in this Psalm. From the presence of God the very earth will one day flee away. When God sets His judgments among men, and says, "Depart from Me, ye cursed," The wicked will weep and wail, When the Books which hold the record of God against the ungodly, are opened, and when God's perfection of knowledge is revealed, the ungodly will cry unto the rocks and to the mountains to fall upon them, and hide them from the face of their Judge. Even hell with its burnings would be more welcome to the wicked than the light of His face.



With lovingkindness have I drawn thee. Here is a little bee that organizes a city, that builds ten thousand cells for honey, twelve thousand cells for larvæ, a holy of holies for the mother queen; a little bee that observes the increasing heat, and, when the wax may melt and the honey be lost, organizes the swarm into squads, puts sentinels at the entrances, glues the feet down, and then, with flying wings, creates a system of ventilation to cool the honey that makes an electric fan seem tawdry a little honey bee that will include twenty square miles in the field over whose flowers it has oversight. But if a tiny brain in a bee performs such wonders who are you, that you should question the guidance of God? Lift up your eyes, and behold the hand that supports these stars, without pillars, the God who guides the planets without collision. From "Beams of Light."

Bibliographical Information
Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on Psalms 139". "Living Water". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lwc/psalms-139.html.
Ads FreeProfile