Psalm 139 is well known and is admired for its grand prose and uplifting sentiments for believers. Ultimately it is a psalm about God and the fact that He knows everything about us, is intimate with His creation and always present. The psalm can be divided as follows:
1-6 God’s intimate knowledge of the psalmist.
7-12 God’s presence is everywhere the psalmist is. There is nowhere he can go and nothing the psalmist can do to make God less present.
13-16 The psalmist illustrates God’s intimate knowledge of him at a time when no-one else could have known him. Like a weaver knows the detail of the garment he is weaving so God has unique ‘creator’ knowledge of all of His creation – to the extent He knows their birth day and death day before day one. These works are credited to God as wonderful and fearful, and cause the psalmist to praise.
17-18 The psalmist treasures the knowledge he has of God’s intimate knowledge of him. He is delighted that God knows him so well and that God is always with him.
19-22 The psalmist affirms he is on God’s side and therefore hates whatever God hates. He has a deep desire for justice to be done and for wickedness to be avenged.
23-24 In response to being on God’s side the psalmist is aware he himself could act as an enemy of God, and asks for God’s help so he can stay on the right path and away from sin.
1. Fear is often accompanied with isolation – feeling that no-one really knows us or knows what we are going through. Why are verses 1 & 2 an amazing comfort to all believers?
2. From verses 2-4 what specific things does God know about you?
3. Has there ever been a place or circumstance in your life where you assume God must be distant, or even absent? What do verses 7-12 remind us?
4. Have you ever watched someone knitting or weaving? What do these metaphors in verses 13-16 teach us about God?
5. What do verses 13-16 teach us about God’s relationship to the unborn baby in the womb?
6. In verses 19-22 the psalmist wants justice to be done and wickedness to be destroyed. Although at first glance this may seem out of place it is quite natural alongside praise of God’s work, to desire the destruction of the enemies of God’s perfect works.
In the light of this psalm and your own circumstances can you think of any injustices or consequences of living in a sinful world you would like to see done away with?
Now or Later
When we want justice to be done and wickedness in the world avenged, we also want wickedness to be got rid of in our own lives. Remember the source of evil lies not outwith – but within – men and women’s hearts. Meditate on verses 23-24 and make it your prayer before God.
This study was kindly created by Rev Jonathan A. Keefe, Robroyston Church, Glasgow.