God’s Intimate Knowledge
If you've ever been a part of a large organization, such as a multibillion-dollar corporation or a governmental agency or a university, it's unlikely you've ever met the people at the top of the leadership chain. You may have heard their names or read their announcements, but you probably didn't know them personally. And they undoubtedly wouldn't have known you from any other person in the organization. So, it's only natural to wonder if the supreme Ruler of the universe has the slightest idea who you are.
How Well Does God Know Me?
O LORD, You have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
You understand my thought from afar.
You scrutinize my path and my lying down,
And are intimately acquainted with all my ways.
Even before there is a word on my tongue,
Behold, O LORD, You know it all. (139:1–4)
The songwriter says that God searches him. The Hebrew term that led to this translation originally meant "to explore" and sometimes conveyed the idea of digging into or digging through something. The thought is that God explores, digs into, and examines me through and through. In the next sentence David pictures himself in two phases of life—passive (sitting down) and active (rising up). Our most common and casual moments are completely familiar to our Lord. Furthermore, even our thoughts are an open book. Thoughts come into our minds through a series of distant, fleeting conceptions as microscopic nerves relate to one another in the brain through a complicated process of connections. Even those are known by our Lord. That is what David means by God's understanding "my thought from afar."
We can see thoughts enter people's heads as their faces "light up" or in some other way telegraph the entrance of ideas. We can hear thoughts as they leave people's minds through their mouths. But we cannot see what happens between the entrance and the exit. God can. In fact, God understands what prompts us to think certain thoughts. He therefore understands the hidden, unspoken motives behind our actions.
One Christmas we bought our small children an ant city. It was a plastic ant bed filled with a narrow sheet of sand, built out of transparent material that allowed you to watch the inner workings of the insects. Normally, all you can see in an ant bed in the ground are these busy little creatures crawling in and out of their hole. But this interesting ant city allowed us to watch what happened after the ants went into their holes—we could watch these small insects as they journeyed through their tunnels. That is exactly what verse 2 is saying about our thought-life before God. He monitors the entire process.
I appreciate the New American Standard Bible's rendering of the third verse: "You scrutinize my path." The verb "scrutinize" translates the Hebrew word that means "to sift." It is the idea of submitting oneself to minute scrutiny. God carefully sifts away at our choices and decisions. As a result of this phenomenal insight, He is thoroughly acquainted with us—and I mean thoroughly! To put the finishing touches on the facts of God's omniscience, He knows our words even before we utter them, which causes David to write: "You know it all." God knows every word of every language in every human being on every continent at every moment of every day. Think of it!
Matthew 10:30 adds the capstone, "The very hairs of your head are all numbered." It is not that God concerns Himself with mental and verbal trivia; it is simply that He is omniscient, that He is fully and accurately aware of everything at all times, the visible as well as the invisible, the public as well as the private.
How well does God know you? These first four verses tell us that He could not possibly know you better! Just in case the grind of insignificance is still doing a number on you, ponder the fact that you are the object of the living God's attention every moment of every day of your life!
Adapted from Charles R. Swindoll, Living the Psalms: Encouragement for the Daily Grind (Brentwood, Tenn.: Worthy Publishing, a division of Worthy Media, Inc., 2012). Copyright © 2012 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights are reserved. Used by permission.
Used with permission. All rights reserved.