Read Psalm 139:17-24: Psalm 139 testifies to a level of intimacy between God and man that surpasses the greatest intimacy ever experienced in human relationships. Intimacy thrives on closeness and knowledge. On both counts, no one can ever get closer to us than God who lives within us. And no one can ever know more about us, than God who created us.
And yet for intimacy to be meaningful it must be a two-way relationship. It is difficult for a parent to be close to a child who spurns his father’s love, refuses to communicate with him, and rejects his every advance. The same is true of our relationship with God. Despite His closeness to us and His perfect knowledge of us, for our relationship to be characterized as intimate, there must be at the very least, an appropriate response from us. It is not only possible, but most desirable that we should respond, both to His knowledge of us, and to His closeness to us.
We can never fully know God, and certainly not while we are on earth. We definitely will never know God as He knows us, for He has the advantage of having created us. But we can respond to His perfect knowledge of us with a genuine desire to know more and more of Him each day. We can demonstrate our desire to know him more and more by spending more and more time in His Word each day. We can spend more and more time in prayerful communion with, and praise and worship to Him each day. Eliza E. Hewitt sums it up in her 19th Century composition:
More about Jesus would I know,
More of His grace to others show;
More of his saving fullness see,
More of His love who died for me.
More about Jesus let me learn,
More of his holy will discern;
Spirit of God, my teacher be,
Showing the things of Christ to me.
More about Jesus in His Word,
Holding communion with my Lord;
Hearing his voice in ev’ry line,
Making each faithful saying mine.
More about Jesus on his throne,
Riches in glory all His own;
More if His kingdom’s sure increase;
More of His coming, Prince of peace.
We can respond to the closeness of God to us, first by recognizing and acknowledging His closeness, and secondly, by welcoming and facilitating this closeness. God’s closeness to us can virtually be described as a function of His occupation. He made us. He made us to be close to Him. He wants to be close to us and that is why He made us. He made the first move, and now it is up to us to make the matching move. We can say, “yes Lord… I want you beside me”. Or we can say, “No. I do not want you close to me.” The choice is ours. But wait! Our response is not limited to mere words.
“Therefore, submit to God. But resist the Devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, sinners, and purify your hearts, double-minded people! (James 4:7-8) Because God’s closeness to us extends to His living within us, our response must be to make Him feel as comfortable as possible. Paul admonishes us in Ephesians 4:30, “And don’t grieve God’s Holy Spirit. You were sealed by Him for the day of redemption”.
The Apostle John in 1 John 2:1 encourages us, “My little children, I am writing you these things so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ the Righteous One”
In Psalm 139, David almost exhausts the details of his intimate relationship with God. In verse 1-6 David describes God’s perfect knowledge of him and the foundation for this knowledge. And yet, it is not mere passive knowledge, but active knowledge. It is one that searches, not as for something hidden from casual observation, but rather more like a frequency scanner that systematically covers the whole spectrum, looking for nothing in particular, but being aware of everything specifically.
In verse 7 – 12, David describes God’s closeness to Him and illustrates the consequences of this closeness. There is no place that he can go that God is not already there. For us today, we can add, because God’s Holy Spirit lives within us, we take Him with us wherever we go.
In our relationship of intimacy with God, He has a knowledge-advantage over us. But could it be that in a real sense, we also have an advantage over Him? You see, God’s perfect knowledge of us will never lead Him to worship and adore us. Even before we fell through Adam’s sin, the relationship between man and God was designed for man to worship God, and never for God to worship man. After we sinned, that made matters even worse. Outside of Jesus, Paul gives us an insight as to how God sees us in Romans 2:10-13:
There is no one righteous, not even one…
All have turned away;
all alike have become useless.
There is no one who does what is good,
not even one…
Their throat is an open grave;
they deceive with their tongues.
Vipers’ venom is under their lips.”
The basis for our salvation is, and will always be the fact that God sees us clothed in the righteousness of God. Were it not for that, we all would be condemned, not only because we are inherently sinful, but because we also sin in thought, word and/or deed.
The advantage we have is that even with our limited knowledge of God, all that we can see of Him is beauty and holiness and perfection and love. All of this constitutes fodder for the flames of praise and worship from us, and results in enhanced intimacy between ourselves and God. As God reveals more and more of Himself to us, like David we can say:
“Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.” (verse 6);
“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” (verse 14)
“How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them!” (verse 17)
King David’s sense of intimacy with God on one occasion released him to publicly dance vehemently in an undignified way before the Lord, wearing only a linen ephod. In the context of Psalm 139, he not so much invites God to search Him, but rather acknowledges that God continuously searches his heart and his anxious thoughts. The action point in his prayer is “Lead me in the way everlasting. This is where David needs God’s Divine help, not for God to lead, but for him to follow.
Finally, verses 19 – 22, though uncomfortable, will not go away. David was fully justified in hating those who hated God. We are not. In 2 Chronicles 19:1-2 Jehu the Seer told King Jehoshaphat that because he helped the wicked and loved those who hated the Lord, the wrath of the Lord was on him. But after that, Jesus died and rose again and ushered in a new dispensation of grace. Today we are to vehemently hate the sin, and fervently love the sinner, forgiving and being merciful as Christ has forgiven us. The family of the eight recently slain black people in Charlestown, USA, reminded us of this love when they publicly forgave the white killer.
To God be the glory.
Remember to visit RBC’s Our Daily Bread Devotional today at www.ODB.org