Psalm 139 Meditation: Infinite and Intimate

How appropriate to finish our Psalms study with a song to our Infinite, Intimate God.


The post was written by Becky Hofseth:

I love Psalm 139. In fact, it is probably the biggest chunk of Scripture I have ever attempted to memorize. One of the perks of homeschooling was having accountability to memorize…to none other than my own children (who of course, were quicker than I). Once in awhile we would join other families in memorization goals. I distinctly remember watching with other proud parents the bright faces of our children happily reciting Psalm 139 and quietly asking God that the import of these verses would not be lost, that they would experience for themselves this God of Psalm 139 who is infinitely and intimately fond of His children.

One of my favorite songs these days is entitled, “This is Our God.” The lyrics list one attribute after another of this God, who like none other, is infinitely powerful yet intimately Father-like:

A refuge for the poor, a shelter from the storm
This is our God.
He will wipe away our tears and return our wasted years
This is our God. Oh… this is our God
A father to the orphan, a healer to the broken
This is our God.
And He brings peace to our madness and comfort in our sadness
This is our God. Oh… this is our God
A fountain for the thirsty, a lover for the lonely
This is our God.
He brings glory to the humble and crowns for the faithful
This is our God.

Without talent or time to syncopate the Chris Tomlin melody, it seems the words of Psalm 139 provide ample fodder for additional verses:

He knows when we sit and when we rise;
He perceives our thoughts from afar.
This is our God.

He discerns our going out and our lying down;
He is familiar with all our ways.
This is our God.

Before we say a word, He knows it completely.
This is our God.

He hems us in on all sides, and He lays His very hand upon us.
This is our God.

Yes, I know in my heart of heart these wonderful things, but it is beyond my comprehension, and frankly, too lofty for me to attain.

We cannot outrun Him or flee from His presence.
Where ever we go His right hand will hold us fast.
Oh, this is our God!

Darkness is as light to Him.
This is our God.

He knit us together wonderfully in our mother’s womb, ordaining each of our days.
This is our God.

His thoughts of affection toward us outnumber the grains of sand.
Oh! This is our God!

We are left sighing at the thought of these things, then are abruptly jolted by David’s sharp turn where he slips into one of his familiar refrains: disdain of God-haters and the request for God’s wholesale slaying of the wicked. After all of those powerful images and wonderful sentiments, it seems like such a strange thing to say, David. (We did not have our little ones memorize this section.)

I admit that most of the time I let these bewildering, “slay the wicked” passages just lay there. I suppose because I am blogging I feel obligated to grapple with it. So here are some “perhaps.”

Perhaps David’s intimacy with God and understanding of His majesty makes the wickedness about him seem even more repugnant, turning him into a bulldog defending his master (“I hate those who hate You”).

Perhaps as soon as he places himself in this “I vs. them” position, the Holy Spirit invades his space and shows him the hypocrisy of it, for no sooner does he call down God’s wrath on the wicked, then we read these juxtaposing words:

Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

Perhaps we are witnessing the check of God’s Spirit. I regularly get pricked. Case in point: I am scolding (i.e., lecturing, exhorting) my children, and there is this haunting resonance even as the words leave my mouth that I am just as guilty as they. “Heed your own words, daughter,” I hear from Father God. He lovingly searches me, knows my heart, reveals my unbelief, kindly shows me my own offenses, then always leads me back into “the way everlasting,” a place where His mercy covers a multitude of sins.

This is our God! And now we get to prepare for his most intimate act, being born among us.

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