Less About Me. More About God. | by Chassidy Rogers

The soundtrack of my childhood is varied. Thanks to my mother, with her strong alto voice, eclectic taste in music, and habit of singing while cooking, cleaning, and basically every other daily activity, from an early age I was exposed to a wide variety of music.

As a child I would sing along with Patsy Cline as she went walking after midnight, join with the Righteous Brothers and their Unchained Melody, and walk the tight rope with Stevie Ray Vaughan. But the one voice that really fills my childhood, over and over, is Rich Mullins.

It was through one of his lesser-known songs that I first learned about Psalm 139; although, I didn’t know it at the time when his rough, sometimes pitchy, yet always earnest and prophetic voice sang out, 

“Where could I go, where could I run/Even if I found the strength to fly/And if I rose on the wings of the dawn/And crashed through the corner of the sky/If I sailed past the edge of the sea/Even if I made my bed in hell/Still there You would find me.”

I became a believer when I was 11, around the same time this song was released posthumously. I found great comfort in the imagery the song provided for me, a new Christian. No matter where I went, nothing and no one could snatch me out of the Father’s hands, similar to what Jesus said in John 10. 

Though the most well-known portions of this Psalm are verses 13-14 and 23-24, those verses lose much of their luster if read apart from the greater message of the Psalm as a whole. Over the years as I’ve read this chapter more and more, I’ve come to see that Psalm 139 is less about me and what I’m like, and more about God and what he’s done.

Starting at the beginning of the chapter, we see the first stanza is full of action. Verbs. These important words tell us what God is like and what he is doing. In just 5 verses we see almost twice that many verbs: we learn that God searches, knows, discerns, is acquainted with, hems in, and lays his hand upon. 

We see in verses 7-12 the omnipresence, omnipotence, and omniscience of God. He is omnipresent- fully present everywhere. He is omnipotent- he holds all power and nothing is too hard for him. And he is omniscient- he knows everything. 

Then we come to verses 13-14, often quoted verses, and for good reason. It’s verses like this, and Genesis 1:27, among others, that frame our understanding of the value of human life. That each human being has inherent value because they are made in the image of God, even as they’re knit together in their mother’s womb. 

And yet look at the focus of David- “I praise you,” he says to God, “for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works. My soul knows it very well.” Without diminishing the preciousness of human life, as David reflects on his own masterful creation by God, it results not in an inordinate focus on David himself, but in praise to God the Creator. We see again in these verses the work and ways of God. He formed, knitted, made, saw, wove, wrote.

How precious are the thoughts and ways of this God who is so present, so powerful, so wise.

After thinking upon these marvelous ways, David reflects on the folly of those who would position themselves as the enemy of the LORD, asking that they would be silenced and put to an end. He repeats his oath and loyalty to God. 

But this is the same David who says elsewhere, “I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me…” David knows he isn’t perfect. He knows he isn’t above transgression and sin. He himself could easily walk in folly and place himself as God’s enemy if he doesn’t carefully guard himself. 

And so, David prays, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” I’m reminded of David’s similar plea in Psalm 51. “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me.”

Who else could search the innermost depths of our hearts, souls, and minds than the one who created and formed them? The one who wrote every single one of our days in his book before we ever lived a single one? 

David ends this Psalm the way he began it. O Lord, you have searched me and known me….Search me, O, God, and know me! You who know when I sit and when I rise, who is ever-present no matter my physical or spiritual location, please lead me in your everlasting and eternal way. Truly our Maker is perfect in all his ways and kind in all he does. 

That song by Rich Mullins goes on to say, “time cannot contain You/You fill eternity/Sin can never stain You/Death has lost its sting/And I cannot explain the way You came to love me/ Except to say that nothing is beyond You.”

Oh God, grant us eyes to see your ways and your work. You are not a god who is far off, but the God who is near. You did not make us and then leave us to our own devices; you foreknew us before the foundations of the world, intricately made us, designed every day of our life, and even still are with us. Truly, Lord, there is nowhere we can go, run, or hide where you are not already present. Our only right response to these marvelous truths is to praise you, Lord, for your wonderful works, and to ask, Oh God, that as you’ve searched and known us, that you would please search and know us. Bring to light any way within us that isn’t pleasing to you, and lead us in your light and your truth. For our great joy, and your supreme glory. Amen.

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