Who are we?

In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Psalm 139:1-6 - Knowing God

In this psalm, David makes it very clear that he understands that his God knows him (vv. 1-6). The theological term for God’s knowledge is his omniscience. To put it into one sentence, God knows all things actual and possible. As David indicates, the Lord knows our behaviour in public and private and he knows our thoughts and our words. Moreover he has always known everything about us and always will.

Yet we have to be careful that we don’t regard God as a kind of detached super computer. David here describes God’s knowledge of him as a very personal act. To begin with, we can see that he speaks as if he was the only person with whom God was dealing. And that is one of the amazing realities about the relationship we can have with God. He can interact with each one of us and give us full attention all the time.

It would be possible for us to reduce God’s searching of us to the level of a snooping detective trying to find evidence that would lead to our conviction of a wrong actionAnd if we regard his knowledge in this way then we will be afraid of him because we will assume that he is pursuing us only to punish us. Or we can wrongly consider his searching of us to be like the actions of a visitor to a tourist site who is given a lot of information but leaves the place unaffected by what he discovered. The psalmist makes it very clear that his God is interested in him, and the reason why this is so is because the Lord has a great affection for him.

As we think about the knowledge of God, we can see that there are no secrets we can hide from him. So we should be encouraged to be honest before him. At the same time, we can be very hopeful because he knows us. If I have physical troubles, I want a doctor who can see all my problems and who also knows how to heal them. In a far higher sense, the Lord we worship is the heavenly physician who knows our sins and defects and who has the skill to apply his knowledge of the remedies required.

At the same time, he is the loving God who wants to share his knowledge with us. He does want us to know who we truly are (therefore he will convict us of our sins and correct us for our faults), but he also wants us to know who he truly is. Is that not what David is discovering? While it is not possible for us to assess how much David, as an Old Testament believer, knew about God and his plan of salvation, we know so much more because of the coming of Jesus. So when he says, ‘I know my sheep’ (John 10:14), it is the same idea as David says about God and him. And Jesus went on to say that his sheep know him, and we can see from this paragraph that David could say the same about God.

As we can see from verse 6, the response of David to the fact that God knows all about him is to express his wonder. And wonder is of the essence of worship. It includes adoration marked by awe, an attitude of delighted amazement at the greatness of the gracious God who know us and wants us to know him.

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