Psalms 139

For the director of music. Of David. A psalm.

1 You have searched me, LORD, and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue you, LORD, know it completely.
5 You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.
7 Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.
13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts,[a] God! How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand— when I awake, I am still with you.
19 If only you, God, would slay the wicked! Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty!
20 They speak of you with evil intent; your adversaries misuse your name.
21 Do I not hate those who hate you, LORD, and abhor those who are in rebellion against you?
22 I have nothing but hatred for them; I count them my enemies.
23 Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

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Psalms 139 Commentary

Chapter 139

God knows all things. (1-6) He is every where present. (7-16) The psalmist's hatred to sin, and desire to be led aright. (17-24)

Verses 1-6 God has perfect knowledge of us, and all our thoughts and actions are open before him. It is more profitable to meditate on Divine truths, applying them to our own cases, and with hearts lifted to God in prayer, than with a curious or disputing frame of mind. That God knows all things, is omniscient; that he is every where, is omnipresent; are truths acknowledged by all, yet they are seldom rightly believed in by mankind. God takes strict notice of every step we take, every right step and every by step. He knows what rule we walk by, what end we walk toward, what company we walk with. When I am withdrawn from all company, thou knowest what I have in my heart. There is not a vain word, not a good word, but thou knowest from what thought it came, and with what design it was uttered. Wherever we are, we are under the eye and hand of God. We cannot by searching find how God searches us out; nor do we know how we are known. Such thoughts should restrain us from sin.

Verses 7-16 We cannot see God, but he can see us. The psalmist did not desire to go from the Lord. Whither can I go? In the most distant corners of the world, in heaven, or in hell, I cannot go out of thy reach. No veil can hide us from God; not the thickest darkness. No disguise can save any person or action from being seen in the true light by him. Secret haunts of sin are as open before God as the most open villanies. On the other hand, the believer cannot be removed from the supporting, comforting presence of his Almighty Friend. Should the persecutor take his life, his soul will the sooner ascend to heaven. The grave cannot separate his body from the love of his Saviour, who will raise it a glorious body. No outward circumstances can separate him from his Lord. While in the path of duty, he may be happy in any situation, by the exercise of faith, hope, and prayer.

Verses 17-24 God's counsels concerning us and our welfare are deep, such as cannot be known. We cannot think how many mercies we have received from him. It would help to keep us in the fear of the Lord all the day long, if, when we wake in the morning, our first thoughts were of him: and how shall we admire and bless our God for his precious salvation, when we awake in the world of glory! Surely we ought not to use our members and senses, which are so curiously fashioned, as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin. But our immortal and rational souls are a still more noble work and gift of God. Yet if it were not for his precious thoughts of love to us, our reason and our living for ever would, through our sins, prove the occasion of our eternal misery. How should we then delight to meditate on God's love to sinners in Jesus Christ, the sum of which exceeds all reckoning! Sin is hated, and sinners lamented, by all who fear the Lord. Yet while we shun them we should pray for them; with God their conversion and salvation are possible. As the Lord knows us thoroughly, and we are strangers to ourselves, we should earnestly desire and pray to be searched and proved by his word and Spirit. if there be any wicked way in me, let me see it; and do thou root it out of me. The way of godliness is pleasing to God, and profitable to us; and will end in everlasting life. It is the good old way. All the saints desire to be kept and led in this way, that they may not miss it, turn out of it, or tire in it.

Cross References 42

  • 1. S Psalms 17:3; Romans 8:27
  • 2. Psalms 44:21; Jeremiah 12:3
  • 3. 2 Kings 19:27
  • 4. Psalms 94:11; Proverbs 24:12; Jeremiah 12:3; Matthew 9:4; John 2:24
  • 5. 2 Kings 19:27
  • 6. S Job 31:4
  • 7. S Hebrews 4:13
  • 8. S 1 Samuel 25:16; Psalms 32:10; Psalms 34:7; Psalms 125:2
  • 9. S Psalms 131:1
  • 10. Job 42:3; Romans 11:33
  • 11. Jeremiah 23:24; John 1:3
  • 12. Deuteronomy 30:12-15; Amos 9:2-3
  • 13. Job 17:13; Proverbs 15:11
  • 14. Psalms 23:3
  • 15. Psalms 108:6; Isaiah 41:10
  • 16. Job 34:22; Daniel 2:22
  • 17. Psalms 119:73
  • 18. S Job 10:11
  • 19. Isaiah 44:2,24; Isaiah 46:3; Isaiah 49:5; Jeremiah 1:5
  • 20. Psalms 119:164; Psalms 145:10
  • 21. S Job 40:19; Psalms 40:5
  • 22. Ecclesiastes 11:5
  • 23. S Job 10:11
  • 24. S Psalms 63:9
  • 25. S Job 33:29; S Psalms 90:12
  • 26. S Psalms 92:5
  • 27. S Job 5:9; Psalms 40:5
  • 28. Psalms 40:5
  • 29. S Job 29:18
  • 30. S Psalms 3:5
  • 31. Psalms 5:6; Isaiah 11:4
  • 32. S Psalms 6:8; Psalms 119:115
  • 33. S Psalms 59:2
  • 34. S Psalms 65:7
  • 35. S Deuteronomy 5:11; Jude 15
  • 36. 2 Chronicles 19:2; Psalms 31:6; Psalms 119:113; Psalms 119:158
  • 37. S Psalms 26:5
  • 38. Matthew 5:43
  • 39. Job 31:6; Psalms 26:2
  • 40. S 1 Samuel 16:7; S 1 Chronicles 29:17; S Psalms 7:9; Proverbs 17:3; Jeremiah 11:20; S Revelation 2:23
  • 41. Jeremiah 25:5; Jeremiah 36:3
  • 42. Psalms 5:8; Psalms 23:2; Psalms 143:10; Proverbs 15:9

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. Or "How amazing are your thoughts concerning me"

Chapter Summary

To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. This psalm was written by David, when he lay under the reproach and calumnies of men, who laid false things to his charge; things he was not conscious of either in the time of Saul's persecution of him, or when his son Absalom rebelled against him: and herein he appeals to the heart searching and rein trying God for his innocence; and, when settled on his throne, delivered it to the master of music, to make use of it on proper occasions. According to the Syriac title of the psalm, the occasion of it was Shimei, the son of Gera, reproaching and cursing him as a bloody man, 2 Samuel 16:5. Theodoret takes it to be a prophecy of Josiah, and supposes that he is represented as speaking throughout the psalm. Aben Ezra observes, that this is the most glorious and excellent psalm in all the book: a very excellent one it is: but whether the most excellent, it is hard to say. It treats of some of the most glorious of the divine perfections; omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence. Arama says, the argument of it is God's particular knowledge of men, and his providence over their affairs.

Psalms 139 Commentaries

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