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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical
Psalms 139

 

 

Verses 1-24

Psalm 139

To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David

O Lord, thou hast searched me, and known me.

2 Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising;

Thou understandest my thought afar off.

3 Thou compassest my path and my lying down

And art acquainted with all my ways.

4 For there is not a word in my tongue,

But, lo, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether.

5 Thou hast beset me behind and before,

And laid thine hand upon me.

6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me:

It is high, I cannot attain unto it.

7 Whither shall I go from thy Spirit?

Or whither shall I flee from thy presence?

8 If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there:

If I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.

9 If I take the wings of the morning,

And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;

10 Even there shall thy hand lead me,

And thy right hand shall hold me.

11 If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me;

Even the night shall be light about me.

12 Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee;

But the night shineth as the day:

The darkness and the light are both alike to thee.

13 For thou hast possessed my reins:

Thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb.

14 I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made

Marvellous are thy works;

And that my soul knoweth right well.

15 My substance was not hid from thee,

When I was made in secret,

And curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.

16 Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect;

And in thy book all my members were written,

Which in continuance were fashioned,

When as yet there was none of them.

17 How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God!

How great is the sum of them!

18 If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand:

When I awake, I am still with thee.

19 Surely thou wilt slay the wicked, O God:

Depart from me therefore, ye bloody men

20 For they speak against thee wickedly,

And thine enemies take thy name in vain.

21 Do not I hate them, O Lord, that hate thee?

And am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee?

22 I hate them with perfect hatred:

I count them mine enemies.

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart:

Try me, and know my thoughts:

24 And see if there be any wicked way in me,

And lead me in the way everlasting.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

Contents and Composition.—The depth of religious feeling, the weightiness of thought, and the force and beauty of expression, which characterize this Psalm, may be readily acknowledged without praising it, in an excess of admiration, as the crown of Psalm -poetry (Aben Ezra). On account of some words and word-forms incontestably Aramaic, the correctness of the superscription is brought into question, and the composition of this poem, which otherwise might well be justly held as David’s, must, on linguistic grounds, be assigned to a period subsequent to the exile. The Cod. Alex. of the Sept. has also the addition: of Zechariah, and besides, by a second hand: in the Diaspora.

[Few of the German commentators hold to a Davidic authorship. Ewald, Hupfeld and Del. pronounce against it for the reasons cited above. Hengstenberg clings to it firmly, and accounts for the Aramaisms as he does in Psalm 6, 17, 18, by supposing that the Psalmist “penetrated by the loftiness of his subject, shuns also in the form what is of common and daily use.” He also remarks that a late writer could have no motive for prefixing the formula: “to the chief musician.” Perowne seems inclined to the opinion of a late origin, but in this he may have been influenced by his erroneous supposition that in the Hebrew the Psalm is anonymous, which error he repeats in his last edition. He however feels the force of the view that linguistic anomalies may be due to the use of another dialect within Palestine. The English commentators generally are unwilling to give up the Davidic authorship.—J. F. M.]

There are four clearly distinguishable strophes, each consisting of six verses, although the latter are not all of equal length. The Psalmist declares his persuasion that he is intimately and completely scanned and proved by Jehovah, the omniscient God ( Psalm 139:1-6), that he is surrounded by His illuminating presence, as the omnipresent God ( Psalm 139:7-12), that he is perfectly known and understood by Him as his almighty and eternal Creator ( Psalm 139:13-18), and feeling this profoundly and truly, is thereby admonished and comforted. Then, after strong asseverations of his abhorrence of men who act wickedly against God and are thus deserving of punishment, he prays that he may be preserved from self-deception by the revelation of the true condition of his soul, and that he may be led in the way which excludes the danger of destruction ( Psalm 139:19-24).

[Perowne: “Nowhere are the great attributes of God—His omniscience, His omnipresence, His omnipotence—set forth so strikingly as they are in this magnificent Psalm. Nowhere is there a more overwhelming sense of the fact that man is beset and compassed about by God, pervaded by His Spirit, and unable to take a step without His control; and yet nowhere is there a more emphatic assertion of the personality of man as distinct from, not absorbed in, the Deity. This is no pantheistic speculation. Man is here the workmanship of God, and standsin the presence and under the eye of Him who is his Judge. The power of conscience, the sense of sin and responsibility, are felt and acknowledged, and prayer is offered to One who is not only the Judge but the Friend; One who is feared as none else are feared; One who is loved as none else are loved.”—J. F. M.]

Psalm 139:1-2. And known. It is scarcely conceivable that no special object is to be understood here (Stier, Köster, Hengstenberg). For the connection by vav conversive shows that knowing is regarded as a consequence of searching, and it is as natural to supply “me” from the preceding here, as it is in Exodus 2:25. The word רֵעַ ( Psalm 139:2), here is not the familiar term denoting: a friend, but an Aramaic one, with the signification: willing, wishing, striving, and also, as in Syriac and Arabic: thinking. The expression: afar off Isaiah, as in Psalm 138:6, to be understood as contradicting the delusion ( Job 22:12-14) that God’s dwelling in heaven prevents Him from observing mundane things (Calvin, Hengst, Hupfeld), comp. Jeremiah 22:23. It is hardly intended to be expressed that God knows the thought when it is only in process of conception (Del.).

Psalm 139:3-6. The translation in Psalm 139:3 : Thou art around me (Luther), results from a false derivation of זרה from זֵר: a garland, which was held by some of the Rabbins. But the word in question signifies: to winnow, to sift; poetically: to prove, try. [Translate accordingly Psalm 139:3 a: Thou triest my walking and lying down. The translation of6b in E. V. is rather ambiguous. Literally it would be: I am not able for it, not capable of it, that Isaiah, of comprehending it.—J. F. M.]

Psalm 139:7-10. From thy Spirit, namely, in His power over the universe ( Psalm 104:30) and not in His all-comprehending vision of it. [ Psalm 139:8. If I make my bed in Sheol—the unseen world.—J. F. M.]—The wings of the morning ( Psalm 139:9) denote, like the wings of the sun ( Malachi 3:20), and of the wind ( Psalm 18:11), extreme swiftness in a long flight ( Psalm 139:8), as also do the wings of a dove ( Psalm 55:7). The morning is here the starting in the East, in a flight to the uttermost part of the sea, the extreme West. None can escape from the hand ( Psalm 139:10) of the Omnipotent and Omnipresent God ( Amos 9:2; comp. Jeremiah 23:24; Job 34:21) and before the light of His eyes no darkness can exclude His power of vision. Hence the righteous may trust in God even in darkness ( Isaiah 50:10).

Psalm 139:11-12. The translation in Psalm 139:11 : yea darkness will crush me (Hengst.) accords with the reading in the Text, for שׁוּף means only conterere, contundere ( Genesis 3:15; Job 9:17). But the meaning obvelare corresponds perfectly with the context (Chaldee, Symmachus, Jerome, Saadias, et al.); and if it is preferred here it is better to make a slight change in the Text in order to gain a suitable word (Ewald). The best word to insert is עוּף, after Job 11:17 (Böttcher, Hupfeld, Del.). This is preferable to giving to the word as it stands the meaning: to fall upon (Hitzig) or, by comparing with שׁאף, the sense of inhiare, insidiari, invaders (Umbreit, Gesenius) or, by comparing with נֶשֶׁף: to becloud, darken (the Rabbins, Geier, and most). The apodosis begins not in Psalm 139:11 b, (Luther), but in12a (Calvin). And in that verse it is not a state of darkness (Luther) that is mentioned, but a making dark ( Psalm 105:28). [Dr. Moll accordingly translates Psalm 139:11-12, And if I say: only let darkness cover me, and let night be the light about me; even the darkness, etc.—J. F. M.]

Psalm 139:13-16. Formed my reins.—According to the context קנה here does not mean: to possess, hold in one’s power (Hengst, with Sept, Vulg, Luth, and most of the ancients) but: to fashion, as Deuteronomy 22:6, comp. Genesis 14:19; Proverbs 8:22 (most of the recent expositors since Clericus with the Syr, Arab, and Ethiop. Versions). And סכך does not mean: to cover, (Hengst, with the ancients), but, as Job 10:11 shows: to plait, to weave, in allusion to the body framed and interwoven with bones, sinews, and veins (Chald, and the recent expositors). In Psalm 139:15 it is said to be wrought or embroidered with various colors [E. V.: curiously wrought], on account of its seemingly elaborate formation from parts of different forms and colors. [Translate Psalm 139:15 : My frame-work (lit, bones) was not hidden from Thee when I was formed in secret, curiously wrought (as) in the depths of the earth. On the last clause Perowne: “Elsewhere the phrase denotes the ‘unseen world,’ comp. Psalm 63:9; Psalm 86:13. Here, as the parallelism shows, it is used in a figurative sense to describe a region of darkness and mystery.”—J. F. M.] The choice of the word גֹּלֶם ( Psalm 139:16), was probably connected with the phrase just discussed. It signifies something rolled up ( 2 Kings 2:8) a mantle ( Ezekiel 27:24), a crude and unformed mass, as designating the human embryo (Sept, Aquila, Symmachus, Rabbins). But if we study the word in connection with the remaining clauses of the verse, it will appear probable that the conception of an undeveloped complex mass of members (so most), passes over into that of a skein of life, in which the threads which are to form the web of human existence and destiny ( Isaiah 38:12), are not yet unrolled (Hupfeld). For the simplest way of construing כֻּלָּמ is to refer it to “days” [E. V.: in continuance] which, with the future they enfold, are formed [E. V.: fashioned], i.e, planned, predetermined in the Divine counsel, when not a single one of them had come into the sphere of actual existence. Yet they were beheld by God even then, and so were entered (imperfect) in His book ( Psalm 56:9; Psalm 69:29). This view, at all events, gives a sound sense, agreeing with the accents and with grammatical rules. Others refer the כֻּלָּמ to the members of the body forming in the embryo (Kimchi, Geier, et. al.), which were being fashioned through the course of days, i.e, gradually, and not at once. But it would not then be said of them that they were recorded in the book of life. [Hupfeld says that this would be an absurdity.—J. F. M.] Another interpretation refers “all of them” to all men as embryos (Clericus, Hitzig); but this is very forced. The reading of the Masorites, also, וְלֹו instead of the written וִלֹא, leads to the explanation either that all the days formed by God are to Him only a single day (Rabbins) which is over-subtle, or that, among those days, there was one at hand for him, that Isaiah, for the undeveloped mass of the embryo, namely, the day of his birth, (Hitzig, Del.), which appears strange in the connection. Such a simple thought would not be expressed in such a curious manner. Vav in the adverbial clause might have the sense: while or as, and לֹא be used for אֵין, incorrectly indeed, but not without example (comp. Leviticus 15:25; Job 15:32). It is against the accents to construe, according to a view opposed already by Geier, the suffix in כֻּלָּמ pleonastically as referring to the following יָמִים (De Wette and most of the recent expositors). In Psalm 139:15, according to the pointing, the word is not עֶצֶם which denotes directly the bones and also the body, but עֹצֶמ: strength, power, from which notion the bones receive their Hebrew name. The place where the human body is formed before birth is called secret ( Ecclesiastes 11:5). It appears as if the parallel expression: in the depths of the earth. were only intended to serve as a poetical comparison (Hupfeld, comp. Isaiah 45:19). At all events there is no reference to a pre-existence in the realm of shadows (as in Virg. Æneid V:713 f.) or to a laboratory in the under-world (J. D. Michaelis, Knapp, Muntinghe). It may possibly be, however, that there is some more special reference to man’s origin from the dust (Delitzsch, Hitzig), in this comparison of the depths of the earth with the maternal womb ( Job 1:21; Job 33:6; Jonah 2:3; Sirach 40:1; Sirach 51:5) even if not in the form disputed by Hupfeld (Quæsliones in Jobeidos locos vexatos). [Alexander agrees exactly with Hupfeld and Moll. Hengst. agrees also in the main. So also do Perowne and Wordsworth. Noyes translates generally: and in Thy book was everything written.—J. F. M.]

Psalm 139:17-18. How weighty are thy thoughts.—[E. V.: How precious, etc.] The primary notion: heavy, may be transferred to that of value, costly, precious (Del. and most), or with reference to mental judgment or comprehension it may have the sense of: difficult of conception (Kimchi, De Wette, Maurer, Olshausen, Hupfeld), or weighty, important (Hitzig), Job 6:2; Daniel 2:11. The context appears to favor the latter. The sum, the total amount of these arriving through different channels, is so overpowering ( Psalm 40:6) that if they were to be reckoned up (fut. hypoth.) they would be shown to be as the sand of the sea. He does not reach the end of them, although his wakeful heart (Sol. Song of Solomon 5:2) busies itself even in sleep with these thoughts, which he ponders over by night upon his couch ( Job 4:13) and, wearied with the effort, falls asleep. When he wakes he finds himself still attended and occupied with the same thoughts concerning God, His counsels, and dealings. The Text says nothing of any hope or belief that after death, in his communion with God, he shall still be reckoning up that sum of thoughts more numerous than the sand (see Hofmann).

Psalm 139:19-20. Depart from me.—The transition from the optative [if thou wouldst slay the wicked!—J. F. M.], to the imperative is harsh, especially on account of the Vav copulative. Yet there is no ground for a change of סוּרוּ into יָסוּרוּ (Olshausen). A change in the text of Psalm 139:20 would be more justifiable. For יֹמְרוּ, Isaiah, it is true, not meaningless (Hupfeld), but the expression: they say, with thee as an object, is harsh, and can only by extreme necessity ( 2 Samuel 19:24; Isaiah 26:13) be explained as equivalent to: they mention Thee (Del.) they pronounce Thy name (Chald.) or: they speak against Thee as plotters. The correction into יַמְרוּ: they embitter (the Fifth Greek version),[FN1] they provoke Thee (Olsh.), they excite rebellion against Thee (Hupf. after Jerome, Ven, De W.), is very readily suggested, and, since it changes only the vowel, is preferable to the conjecture זַמְּרוּ which affords the sense: they sing praises to Thee with deceit (Hitzig). In the following member of the verse, also, עָרֶיךָ occasions some difficulty. The meaning properly is: Thy cities (Sept, Vulg, Arabic Vers, Cocceius). But there is no suitableness in the thought: Thy cities have risen in vain, or for wickedness, or faithlessly. But if we translate: Thy enemies (Aquila, Symmachus, Chald, Rosen, De Wette) the doubt of the correctness of this sense is scarcely removed by Daniel 4:16; for in 1 Samuel 28:16 the reading is suspected. [The word occurs in the Chald. of Dan. in the place referred to. Hupfeld remarks that it is unknown elsewhere, even in the Aramaic, in that sense.—J. F. M.] The conjecture עָלֶיךָ (Hupfeld, Kamphausen): against Thee, is then naturally suggested. But נשׂא means not only to raise ( Psalm 24:4) and to arise ( Habakkuk 1:3) but also to utter ( Exodus 20:7). Now if we follow that passage where the connection with לַשָּׁוְא also occurs we would be tempted to change the doubtful word into שְׁמֶךָ, thus giving the sense: utter thy name to falsehood, swear falsely (Olsh, Böttcher), or into זִכְרֶךָ thy remembrance (Hitzig formerly) or עֵדֶיךָ, thy testimonies (Ewald). The last conjecture agrees very nearly at least in the consonants with a reading עָדֶיךָ: to Thee, in seven Codices of Kennicott and twenty of De Rossi. So also does the reading עֶדְיְךָ which would lead to the rendering: they wore Thy robe with deceit (Hitzig now). We may, however, hold to the Text and retain the signification: enemies. This, as Delitzsch shows, is gained by means of the intermediate notion: ardent persons, zealots. [Delitzsch illustrates this sense of the root עור from the Arabic, as well as from the passages referred to above, and considers the use of the word in the Text as in keeping with the Aramaisms in which it abounds.—J. F. M.] But assuming this, we are still not to regard the enemies as the subject of the wicked rising (most), for a subject has already occurred in the relative, and a thought parallel to that of the preceding clause would be expected, or of false swearing (Hengst. after Chald. and Rabbins). Nor are they the object of an exaltation, by which God’s enemies are said to be brought to honor through deceit and wickedness (Rudinger, Geier). They are in apposition to the last. [That Isaiah, in apposition to the subject of the preceding member of the verse. This view is expressed in the following translation: Who mention Thee in craftiness (and) speak with deceit, Thine enemies. For the peculiar form of the verb in the second member see Green, Heb. Gr, § 164, 3.—J. F. M.]

Psalm 139:21-22. Should I not hate,etc.?—[E. V.: Do I not, etc.] This question does not express uncertainty or doubt in the mind of the Psalmist, but the most unshaken assurance that he is right in feeling thus. [Dr. Moll thus translates the verse: Should I not hate thy haters, Jehovah, and abhor thy adversaries?—J. F. M.] The extent of this feeling of hatred is expressed by a word which denotes the extreme end of an object [With perfection of hatred.—J. F. M.]

Psalm 139:23-24. In Psalm 139:24 the phrase which we translate: way of suffering, Psalm 16:6; Isaiah 14:3 [E. V.: wicked way], Isaiah, according to our view, the way of provoking and arousing God to anger (Kimchi, Amyrald, Bött.), Isaiah 63:10. According to another, it is the way of the idol-image, i.e, to the idol ( Isaiah 48:5) as contrasted with the way of Jehovah, Psalm 25:4 (Rosenm, Gesen, Maurer), identical with the way of opposition to the law (Sept.), of falsehood (Syr.), of the erring (Chald.). It is best to regard it as the way which causes both inward and outward pain. [See the different significations of the Heb. word.—J. F. M.]. Whether this is endured only in time or in eternity also, is not stated here. And the way which is contrasted with this by the Psalmist is not that which leads to bliss in eternity (Flaminius, Geier, Hengst, et al.), or that of former or ancient times, Jeremiah 6:16; Jeremiah 18:15 (Rosenm, De Wette, Maurer, Olsh.), but the one which endures forever. The idea is therefore not to be limited to that of an unchangeable purpose, followed out during the whole life, even to the end (Calvin, Clericus), comp. Psalm 1:6; Psalm 27:11. In Psalm 139:23. thoughts are represented by the term branches ( Ezekiel 31:5) as ramifying thoughts and cares ( Psalm 94:19). The demand is not the challenge of a confident and vain Prayer of Manasseh, conscious of his own purity, but it is a prayer for divine help and illumination, for the proving of the conscience and the searching out of the soul.

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. Men are not to suppose that God’s omniscience is an attribute in repose, and standing in exclusive relation to Himself. They must ever keep in remembrance that He gives proof of it by constant exercise, and that in relation to the person of man; not as being cognizant of certain individual facts, but of the whole sum of inner and outer circumstances, actions and needs, and likewise of their whole range and significance. Its transcendent superiority to human possibilities of knowing, imagining, and comprehending is a fact of the divine nature, whose salutary truth becomes fruitful certainty when viewed in its proper connection with the fact of the divine omnipresence.

2. For it is in the omnipresence of God that we are able and bound to trace the proofs that He does not, like a limited human creature or an isolated being, move through the perpetual change of place, circumstances, and employment, by which alone nearness and distance, repose and action, suffering and influencing, receive their significance. And if we hold fast to the truth that God is completely and indivisibly Spirit, Life, and active Energy, we can understand the close relation of His omnipresence, with His omniscience, on the one hand, and with His omnipotence, on the other, and also their practical bearing upon human life, especially in its moral and religious aspects.

3. From this point of view, even the natural life of Prayer of Manasseh, from its miraculous origin in the mysterious depths of the laboratory of creation, and onwards through its whole course in the world’s history, receives a highly increased significance. It is not merely unfolded under the eye of God; it even assumes its outward form in conformity to divine pre-determination. Of so much the greater moment does it become, that such a life should be regulated religiously and morally in accordance with the divine will, that its relation to eternity and to its divinely-appointed destiny should ever be kept in mind, and be deeply impressed upon the spiritual nature.

4. To realize this end, it is necessary that men should continually yield themselves up to God; especially that they should give themselves up to meditation upon His “thoughts,” though they cannot sum them up, even if they should be busied with their contemplation in their wakeful hours and in their dreams, by day and by night, as in the noblest and sweetest employment ( Jeremiah 31:25-26); that they should give themselves up to obedience to His holy will in opposition to transgressors and hypocrites, in order to overcome evil; that they should give themselves up to love, believing in God’s gracious guidance, in order to obtain real and abiding salvation.

5. Hengstenberg: The more glorious the formation of man Isaiah, so much the stronger is the proof of God’s absolute omniscience and omnipresence, so much the more striking the testimony it furnishes against those who abandon themselves to sin, under the idea that God does not see or Judges, or those who surrender themselves to despair, saying: My way is hidden from God, Job 10:9-11.—J. F. M.]

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

What avails all knowledge of God’s nature, words, works and ways, if it is not improved according to His will?—We should impress upon our conscience what we hear, experience, and learn to know of God, so that we shall not only meditate upon His counsels, but consider what shall promote our peace.—We cannot comprehend God; all is wonder and mystery; but we can apprehend what He has ordained and revealed and communicated to us for our salvation.—When shall the time arrive when we shall not only cease to have outward fellowship with the wicked, but shall also have no inward and private connection with them?—God is ever round about us; oh that we were ever with Him!

Starke: Blessed is that soul which can appear before God, the omniscient God, with joy and confidence. But to do this it must have been continually controlled by conscience.—God’s omniscience is terrible to the wicked, but comforting to the pious.—Continue in what is good, and God will behold it, and so behold it as to further it.—God can press upon a man so closely that he will acknowledge at last that the hand of God is there.—It is foolish and unavailing for a man to try to measure the divine mysteries by the short standard of the understanding. Mirari licet, non rimari. Anything that is done in darkness lies as clear before God as if it were done in mid-day and in the bright sunshine.—Men can inflict no greater injury upon themselves than to imagine that the Spirit of God is far away from them. This persuasion of Satan makes them daily more presumptuous.—If great earthly rulers can reach so far that it is often very difficult to escape from them, how is it possible to flee from the Lord of all lords who fills heaven and earth?—If there is so much that is wonderful and incomprehensible in the natural birth, what shall we say of regeneration? Oh that all might know and experience it truly!—Be not so insensible and indifferent towards God’s wonderful works and the dealings in which thou also dost share. Be thou able to say: And that my soul knoweth well!—If a soul has not communion with God, it cannot be said to be surrendered to Him. In heavenly contemplation the soul is with God. The anchor of its hope and desire is cast in heaven.—A true Christian can and must pray against those enemies of God and His Church who oppose themselves, not through ignorance or weakness, but from wickedness; yet he must do it in such a way as not to prescribe to God the time, mode, or place of punishment.—We must hate the wicked, yet not their persons, for we should seek their conversion, but on account of their wickedness.—The noblest hatred is that which is directed against wickedness.—The first effect of divine illumination is to make men learn the folly of their hearts.—The reason why so many awakened souls relapse again into slumber and even fall away from every good thing, is chiefly because they neglect to prove themselves.—Man carries the Judge and the judgment in his own breast, even in the smallest actions. This is conscience, implanted within him by God.—There are only two ways leading to eternity, the narrow and the broad. Let no one think that he will reach heaven by an intermediate road. All such by-ways lead into the broad road.

Frisch: Do not fancy that your demeanor, posture, dress, or deportment are not under God’s providence. You deceive yourself. Do not think that your thoughts pass free from inspection. The Lord understands them afar off. Think not that your words are dissipated in the air before God can hear. Oh, no! He knows them even when still upon your tongue. Do not think that your ways are so private and concealed that there is none to know or censure them. You mistake. God knows all your ways.—Give thyself up to God as guilty, and seek His mercy. Flee not from Him, but to Him. It is always better to fall into the hand of God than into the hands of men.—If the heart is not well kept, it goes astray and becomes lost from God.—Rieger: We learn how well it is with that soul which has been withdrawn away from sin by the word of truth, and brought to a just hatred of all wickedness; when it has, and desires to have, no secrets from God, who is so near, and no secret connection with evil, but can behold reflected in conscience all that God knows of us, and rejoice in the comfort it gives.—Stier: Why would David flee from Him who is so near on every side of him? Or why does he say first that he cannot do Song of Solomon, even if he were to fly over the whole creation in its height and depth, from east to west? Because as soon as he reflects with wonder upon God’s omnipresence, the terrors of conscience are awakened with the consciousness of unrighteous courses and sinful words and thoughts, which are manifest to the sight of the Eternal and Holy One.—Tholuck: Who can embrace or touch that Spirit by whom he is every where embraced and touched?—Richter: The unconverted fear to search their hearts earnestly, to try them and judge themselves, and much more to pray God that He would enlighten them.—Guenther: God is everywhere, even in the realms of death, and therefore men can never rid themselves of His presence; if they do not follow Him willingly, they must submit themselves to His omnipotence unwillingly.—I must love my enemy and hate God’s; but it is hard to make the distinction. How easily does self-love deceive us, desire of revenge lead us into error, and anger make us sin! Yet I must decide between them. Who helps me to judge aright?—Diedrich: To know the truth when it is presented, and yet to slight it, and come to terms with falsehood, is an act worthy of double stripes.—The seeing and knowing which are attributed to God were nothing but loving and caring, helping and delivering, leading and blessing, so as to crown with blessedness.

[Matt. Henry: Divine truths look as well when they are prayed over as when they are preached over, and much better than when they are disputed over.—Those that are upright can take comfort in God’s omniscience as a witness to their uprightness, and can with humble confidence beg Him to search and try them, and discover them to themselves; for a good man desires to know the worst about himself, and to discover them to others; he that means honestly could wish he had a window in his breast, that any man may look into his heart.—All the saints desire to be led in the way everlasting, that they may not miss it, turn out of it, or tire in it.—Bp. Horne: The same consideration which should restrain us from sin should also encourage us to work righteousness, and comfort us under all our sorrows; namely the thought that we are never out of the sight and protection of our Maker.—The reformation of our corrupted and dissolved bodies, which is to be wrought at the last day in the womb of the earth, in order to their new birth, will crown the works of the Almighty.—We are neither to hate men on account of the vices they practise, nor love the vices for the sake of the men who practise them. He who observeth invariably this distinction fulfilleth the perfect law of charity and hath the love of God and of his neighbor abiding in him.—Scott: We should inquire what the Lord would have us to do, and whither we ought to remove, and pray that His gracious presence may always attend us; and then we shall have everything to hope, and nothing to fear, in life, in death, and in the eternal world.—Barnes: Search me thoroughly; examine not merely my outward conduct, but what I think about; what are my purposes; what passes through my mind; what occupies my imagination and my memory; what secures my affection and controls my will.—J. F. M.]

Footnotes:

FN#1 - The fifth of the versions collected by Origen in the Hexapla, author unknown, like those of the Sixth and Seventh. They are called respectively the Quinta, Sexta, and Septima versions.—J. F. M.]

 


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Bibliography Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Psalms 139:4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lcc/psalms-139.html. 1857-84.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, December 15th, 2019
the Third Week of Advent
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