God knows us, and has always known us, fully. And He longs for us to know Him. To know God is to understand His holy character and therefore love what He loves and hate what He hates. Knowing Him means submitting to His Word and being open to His examination of our hearts.
Designed for Life—Now and Forever
A popular physicist and cosmologist has argued that the universe began from nothing. He writes, “You don’t need a deity [to] produce a universe.” He admits, however, “I can’t prove that God doesn’t exist, but I’d much rather live in a universe without one.”
Let me tell you, this tragic viewpoint that denies the Creator ends up diminishing the value and purpose of life. This same scientist has described humans as “just a bit of pollution.” Without us, he argues, the universe would continue on as it is. The human race is completely irrelevant.
The Bible has something very different to say about that. Here in Psalm 139, King David writes that God created us with special care and special meaning in life. He writes in verse 15, “My frame was not hidden from you [God], when I was being made in secret.”
The Hebrew term for “frame” here literally refers to our bones—our skeleton. We each have 206 bones in our body. David writes here that God engineered them and put them together “in the depths of the earth”—that’s a metaphor for the hidden recesses of the mother’s womb.
David also points out that each life has been planned from the very beginning: “In your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me” (verse 16). Imagine that: every day has been designed by the same Creator who designed you.
David then says in verses 17-18:
How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
Have you ever contemplated the fact that God is thinking about you? More thoughts than the sands of the whole earth! Did He slip up or get distracted by something when He created you? No, He was thinking through everything about you, from the moment of your conception.
From your unique fingerprint to the shape of your nose and the color of your hair, to your best abilities and even your most painful disabilities, He designed everything about you to cause you to trust Him and depend on Him and long for Him and long to live with Him in your final glorified, perfected, immortal body. In the meantime, He designed you to uniquely testify to your world that His grace is sufficient for you to make it through another day!
Now, beginning at verse 19, David shares his righteous anger toward the unbelieving world that defies his creator God:
Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God! O men of blood, depart from me! They speak against you with malicious intent; your enemies take your name in vain! Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord? And do I not loathe those who rise up against you? I hate them with complete hatred; I count them my enemies. (verses 19-22)
This is what one author called holy hatred!
David’s prayer is, “Lord, why don’t You just slay them now? Why wait until the final judgment to deal with them in justice and righteousness? Do it now! Stop their defiant propaganda against Your creation.”
Now you need to understand, beloved, King David is taking God’s view of judgment in this Old Testament dispensation. God often judged sin immediately and commanded Israel to judge sin immediately. But today, in this New Testament dispensation of grace, we are told that God’s wrath is being stored up until the final judgment (Romans 2:5).
Sin is not always judged immediately, but judgment will arrive, ultimately. And that is why people who defy God and write articles against God’s handiwork can continue to get away with writing and defying God, just a little while longer.
In verse 21, David writes; “Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord? And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?” The word translated “loathe” explains the word “hate.” It’s a Hebrew word that can be translated as “grieve.” In other words, our hatred is mixed with grief and compassion for the sinner. Charles Spurgeon, commenting on this text, writes, “This isn’t ill-will so much as it is sorrow over their unbelief.”
Jesus demonstrated this same attitude in Mark 3:5, when He looked upon His unbelieving audience “with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart.” This is righteous anger mixed with sorrow over the sinner’s defiance against God.
Now David is not just interested in exposing the sinners around him and hating their sin and grieving over their defiance; he is also interested in his own heart. So, he ends this psalm with one of the most personal prayers in all the Bible.
He writes in verse 23, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts.” This final request makes perfect sense, doesn’t it? David has made it clear in this psalm that God is omniscient—all-knowing; He is omnipresent—always present; and He is omnipotent—all-powerful.
- Go as high as you can (verse 8)—He’s there.
- Go into the depths of the earth—He’s there.
- Go east on the wings of the dawn (verse 9)—He’s there.
- Go west beyond the sea—He’s there.
- Travel into the darkness (verses 11-12)—God is there, and He can see as clearly in the dark as He can in the light.
All that to say, there is no use trying to hide anything from God.
But David is not saying here, “Okay, Lord, since you know everything, I will give in to your inspection.” No, he invitesGod’s inspection: “Search me, O God, and know my heart!”
Why would David want that kind of personal inspection? Because, as Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick [or wicked].” Only God can accurately knock down our defenses, expose our motives, and search our hearts.
The verb here for “search” means to probe, to dig deeply, to investigate. It’s as if David is saying, “Lord, place me under divine investigation.”
Have you ever noticed the news footage of somebody who is under investigation? Officials exit the person’s office carrying boxes upon boxes, computers, bankbooks, file cabinets. And that person’s probably hoping they don’t find that one box, that one receipt, that one clue.
Well, that is not the picture here. David is effectively opening every drawer and every box as if to say, “Lord, don’t overlook this! Look here too!”
He writes in verse 24, “See if there be any grievous way in me.” The word “grievous” means something personally hurtful, or dangerous, or self-destructive.
David then ends this psalm by writing, “Lead me in the way everlasting!” Old Testament scholars point out that you could translate this closing clause, “Lead me in the old way—lead me in the ancient way.” In other words, “Lead me in the way You revealed in the ancient days.”
David is asking God to lead him according to His Word. That is really another way of admitting, “Look, I am prone to follow some new way, some popular way, some new path.” No, no, no … God’s Word still shows us the way. That ancient way is still the true way.
In fact, the fulfillment of this is found in the person of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, who announced, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). No one travels to heaven except on that path that goes through Jesus Christ. God doesn’t want you to miss the way—in life, and to the life to come.
Let me tell you, beloved, you are not irrelevant. You are not a mistake. God has made you. He has made heaven for you. He has designed a life for you now, and eternal life to come, through His Son, Jesus Christ.
 “Scientist Proclaims Humanity’s Irrelevance,” Sermon Illustrations, preachingtoday.com.
 John Phillips, Exploring the Psalms: Volume Two (Loizeaux Brothers, 1988), 599.
 Charles Spurgeon, The Treasury of David: Volume 3 (Zondervan, 1977), 285.