Psalm 139

Psalm 139 God knows and understands everything – from the nature of life to the depths of the human heart, from beginning to end. Since it is impossible to escape God’s presence, David concludes by pursuing a relationship free from hypocrisy both with God and men.

VERSES 1-6

From the very beginning of the psalm, David refuses to leave the all-encompassing nature of God’s knowledge impersonal or abstract. He affirms, “You have known me” – 1 and not in a general way, either, but attentively watching his ways, his thoughts, and his words, even before they are spoken. 2 God is not confined to heaven, sleeping or distracted with other affairs. 3 However far off we may be from him, he is never far off from us. David rightly exclaims with sheer wonder at such comprehensive, intimate knowledge – far beyond anything we could hope to achieve.

  1. John 1:48 (ESV): Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.”

    The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

  1. Matthew 9:4 (ESV): But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts?

    The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

  1. 1 Kings 18:27, 37-38 (ESV): And at noon Elijah mocked them, saying, “Cry aloud, for he is a god. Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.” … “Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.” Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.

    The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

VERSES 7-12

Building upon his declaration of God’s infinite knowledge, David next focuses on God’s infinite presence. 4 It is simply impossible by any means, whether avoidance or deceit, to escape the presence of God. Hypocrisy is useless, since God can and will see through every mask. 5 No matter how hard we try, we cannot hide from God.

  1. Matthew 28:20b (ESV): “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

    The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

  1. John 2:24b-25 (ESV): [Jesus] knew all people, and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.

    The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

VERSES 13-18

This marvelous knowledge of God’s makes perfect sense when we understand that He is our Creator. 6 He has intimate knowledge of each and every individual human being, because he planned us, formed us, knit together not only body but also spirit, and sees the future as well as he does the past. 7 Once again, David leads us to exclaim in fear and wonder and praise, at the immensity and yet intimacy of God’s knowledge!

In verse 17, David continues his meditations on God's thoughts about him by responding with his thoughts about God. Once again he expresses how overwhelmed he is at the sheer greatness and infinite value of God’s knowledge. It is to our advantage to not only realize that God is with us, but to seek to be with him in our thoughts, words, and actions.

  1. Isaiah 44:24 (ESV): Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, who formed you from the womb: “I am the Lord, who made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself.”

    The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

  1. Isaiah 48:5 (ESV): “I declared them to you from of old; before they came to pass I announced them to you, lest you should say, ‘My idol did them, my carved image and my metal image commanded them.’”

    John 2:22 (ESV): When therefore [Jesus] was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.

    The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

VERSES 19-22

When the perfect, infinite nature of God is in view and our comfortable hypocrisy has been stripped away, the constant, raging battle between two kingdoms becomes apparent. 8 Those who are not with God, are against him. 9 Those who love God will hate and be at enmity with those who hate him. 10

This hatred does not refer to an emotional feeling directed against other people, nor does it justify personal vindictiveness. Rather, it is a desire for the complete destruction of wickedness (verse 19). One day Jesus Christ, the Son of David, will fulfill these words directly when he comes again. 11 Until then we preach Christ crucified, knowing that the cross is effective for the ending of hostility. 12 The chief weapon God’s people employ in our fight against wickedness is love for our enemies, 13 as David himself demonstrated. 14

  1. Colossians 1:13 (ESV): He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,

    Ephesians 6:12 (ESV): For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

    The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

  1. Matthew 12:30 (ESV): Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.

    The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

  1. Psalm 97:10a (ESV): O you who love the Lord, hate evil!

    The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

  1. 2 Thessalonians 2:8 (ESV): And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming.

    The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

  1. Ephesians 2:16 (ESV): And might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.

    The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

  1. Matthew 5:44 (ESV): But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,

    Romans 12:20-21 (ESV): To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

    The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

  1. 1 Samuel 24:11-12, 16b-17, 19b (ESV): “See, my father, see the corner of your robe in my hand. For by the fact that I cut off the corner of your robe and did not kill you, you may know and see that there is no wrong or treason in my hands. I have not sinned against you, though you hunt my life to take it. May the Lord judge between me and you, may the Lord avenge me against you, but my hand shall not be against you.” … And Saul lifted up his voice and wept. He said to David, “You are more righteous than I, for you have repaid me good, whereas I have repaid you evil. … So may the Lord reward you with good for what you have done to me this day.”

    The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

VERSES 23-24

In the last two verses, David just as passionately pleads with God to continually guard his heart from hypocrisy and deceit. The destruction of the wickedness which he hates must include a purging of wickedness from his own soul. Since all of us have fallen short of God’s glory and tend towards sin, we must vigilantly turn back to God in repentance and faith.

Emily Moore