Psalms 139:18

18 If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.

Psalms 139:18 Meaning and Commentary

Psalms 139:18

If I should count them, they are more in number than the
, That is, if I should attempt to do it, it would be as vain and fruitless as to attempt to count the sands upon the seashore, which are innumerable; ( Psalms 11:5 ) . So Pindar says F19, that sand flies number, that is, is not to be numbered; though the Pythian oracle boastingly said F20, I know the number of the sand, and the measures of the sea; to which Lucan F21 may have respect when he says, measure is not wanting to the ocean, nor number to the sand; hence geometricians affect to know them; so Archytas the mathematician, skilled in geometry and arithmetic, is described and derided by Horace F23 as the measurer of the earth and sea, and of the sand without number; and Archimedes wrote a book called (qammithv) F24, of the number of the sand, still extant F25, in which he proves that it is not infinite, but that if even the whole world was sand it might be numbered; but the thoughts of God are infinite;

when I wake, I am still with thee;
after I have been reckoning them up all the day, and then fall asleep at night to refresh nature after such fatiguing researches; when I awake in the morning and go to it again, I am just where I was, and have got no further knowledge of God and his thoughts, and have as many to count as at first setting out, and far from coming to the end of them: or else the sense is, as I was under thine eye and care even in the womb, before I was born, so I have been ever since, and always am, whether sleeping or waking; I lay myself down and sleep in safety, and rise in the morning refreshed and healthful, and still continue the care of thy providence: it would be well if we always awaked with God in our thoughts, sensible of his favours, thankful for them, and enjoying his gracious presence; as it will be the happiness of the saints, that, when they shall awake in the resurrection morn, they shall be with God, and for ever enjoy him.


F19 Olymp. Ode 2. in fine.
F20 Apud Herodot. Clio, sive l. 1. c. 47.
F21 Pharsal. l. 5. v. 182.
F23 Carmin. l. 1. Ode. 28. v. 1, 2.
F24 Vid. Turnebi Advers. l. 26. c. 1.
F25 Fabrit. Biblioth. Gr. l. 3. c. 22. s. 8.

Psalms 139:18 In-Context

16 Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.
17 How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!
18 If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.
19 Surely thou wilt slay the wicked, O God: depart from me therefore, ye bloody men.
20 For they speak against thee wickedly, and thine enemies take thy name in vain.