Psalm 139 – Who Knows You Best
Who’s the one person that knows you best in life? That’s the question I want to start off asking. Who knows you best? They know what you like, what you don’t like, they know how you’re wired, they know how you think, they know how you’ll react in any given situation, they how you used to be years ago, and who you are today, they know stuff about you that most other people don’t know. Who knows you the best? Now if you’re married you might say your spouse does. That you and your spouse know each other inside out. That you’ve been together so long you can finish each other’s sentences and anticipate every move. In fact, studies have shown that couples who’ve been together for so long can sometimes end up looking alike-and maybe know some older married couples who do look alike. Apparently the University of Michigan says that decades of shared emotions result in a closer resemblance due to similar wrinkles and expressions. So maybe your spouse knows you so well you share the same wrinkles! But who else knows you the best? If you’re not married you might say it’s your best friend, or your longstanding childhood friend. That you can’t remember this person not being in your life you’ve been friends for so long-and they know everything about you. You’ve shared so many secrets together, so many inside jokes, so many memories and experiences-there’s nothing you can hide from them. That if something’s wrong they can immediately tell-and are asking what it is, what’s going on? Or maybe your sibling knows you best-your brother or your sister. You grew up together, shared a room together, maybe even fought together-but through it all they’re the one person who knows you best in life. Or maybe that’s a parent-your mom or your dad. That as a kid right now you’re really close-or maybe as the years have gone on you’ve stayed really close and they know you best. It’s an interesting question to ponder-who knows you best?
So think of who that is-but I want you to also think about this in a slightly philosophical way for a moment-what if you wrote a story? Whether it was for creative writing class in school, or because you wanted to be an author-what if you sat down to write a story about a variety of characters-but within the story you were writing there were 2 best friends. Lots of stories and literature is filled with a couple of best friends-there’s Sam and Frodo from LOTR, there’ s Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn from Mark Twain, Han Solo and Chewbacca-those guys were best buds! I just finished reading the book Lonesome Dove and there’s 2 cowboys named Call and Gus who know each other better than all the other cowboys on the cattle drive. So within these stories because these 2 characters know each other best, they help each other out on the journey, they’re there for each other in whatever challenges they encounter. They stand by each other in whatever problems they face-that’s what best friends do. But do they know each other the best-or is there someone else who knows them better still? And this is where the philosophical part comes in-because I would venture to say that even more than close friends who know each other really well, the author knows them the best. And why is that? Because the author truly knows every detail, thought, and action of the character. He’s the source. Without the author the character wouldn’t exist, the’s character’s story wouldn’t be written. The author is the one who gives life to this character we’re reading about, the author is intimately aware of every detail of the character-who they are, where they’re going, what will happen, how they’ll react and where the story will end. A character doesn’t write himself or make his own book. A character can’t keep secrets or have thoughts the author doesn’t know about. Or that somehow buried in the pages of the book are a few paragraphs the author has no idea exist. It doesn’t work that way. Nothing is hidden from the author or can happen to the character without the author’s involvement. And we’re going to be reminded of that same truth in our lives-that the author and perfecter of our faith; the one who knows us the best, far beyond anyone else is God-and that nothing we think, nothing we do, nowhere we go or no place we run is hidden from Him.
So as we continue our Summer in the Psalms series, open your Bible or take a look at Ps 139:1-3. Now the rest of this Psalm will go on to explain all the different ways that God knows us-but it starts with our heart. O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. And once again the psalmist is David and he’s not saying that God knows you like you know somebody. Oh yeah-I know that guy-I know who you’re talking about. The Lord knows us completely and thoroughly. As our Maker and Creator, the Author writing our story-He knows everything about us. And it’s a knowledge that’s far more expansive than anyone else has. What David’s writing here isn’t just nice poetry-but the truth. Look back at the verse-v. 1-2a. And not even your spouse knows that all the time. They don’t keep track of every time you sit down-spouse is seated at 4:15-should be standing up by 5pm-or even the precise time you wake up-as if they’re next to the bed the moment you open your eyes. Good morning-how was your sleep? That would be a bit creepy! But the Lord is with us the moment we lie down and the moment we arise. He knows where we are-and even what we’re thinking-v. 2b-3. The Lord knows all parts of you. He doesn’t just get an idea of what you’re thinking after you tell Him about it. He already knows. He understands everything you’re thinking and what you’re intending. And what if you remembered that? No doubt you can keep your thoughts hidden from others-we do it all the time. We don’t share what we’re thinking-or we work hard to cover up what we’re thinking or considering-even when people ask. How are you doing? I’m fine-doing good. And yet doing good might be the furthest thing from our thinking. But usually we’re successful in convincing people and hiding our feelings-even from the person who knows you the best. But with the Lord-He knows your thoughts and sees your intentions and understands your motives from afar. God discerns them-and cuts right through any facade you may be putting up. Or look at the next verse-Ps 139:4. Even before you say anything-before you grumble, before you hurl an insult or tear someone down or say something you shouldn’t. Before you spread that juicy gossip-the Lord knows the words that will come out of your mouth. So Pt1: Nothing inside of me is hidden from God. He sees, knows, and understands everything. And I am the only one who finds this intimidating?
On the one hand, this is a great truth-as we’re going to see it unfold across this Psalm. But on the other hand, it can be an intimidating, eye-opening reality that nothing inside of us is hidden from God. Because isn’t that one of our greatest fears-to have everything we think inside and everything we want to say be on full display for people to see. Would you willingly and confidently say to someone-here’s all my thoughts, sift through them, I think you’ll enjoy them. We shudder at the idea. I had the news on this past week and a couple of news anchors were talking-and one lady said to the panel-if people knew everything I ever thought about I don’t think I’d be welcome in society! But how true is that? She feared how people would respond if they could see inside her and uncover her thoughts-and we fear that too. When we examine our thoughts-when we recognize what’s in our hearts we quickly see the sin and depravity and selfishness that’s there. What does it say in Jer 17:9-10a. Jeremiah is saying exactly what David is saying. What would the Lord find when He searches your heart and examines your mind? Things you’d be ashamed of or embarrassed about? Things you wouldn’t want anybody to see? Things that would keep you from being welcome in society? Back to Pt1. He already knows everything about you. Yes-you can hide from others, you can work hard to protect your reputation or not say what you really want to say or are really thinking. But who you are is laid bare before God-He sees everything about you. And let me just say that despite seeing and knowing everything about you-He still loves you. God doesn’t peer into your heart, examine your thoughts and then backs away creeped out. Wow-did not know all that was in there! He completely knows what’s in there-and still thoroughly and completely loves you! We’re going to circle back to that point later on-but David isn’t saying these things in fear or frustration-He’s saying them in praise and worship. Back to the text-Ps 139:1-3. He’s thankful and rejoicing over this truth! Ps 139:4-6. Lord, your sovereignty and omniscience (that’s the big word for God knowing everything) are amazing and overwhelming. You know everything about me, you’re never surprised or caught off guard. David is praising God for who He is in His divine knowledge and omniscience. I like what AW Tozer says-Knowledge, 284. Isn’t that incredible! God has never learned anything. It’s summer break-so all learning is put on pause. Or you’re unlearning everything from this past year-brain dump for all that math and science. But God has no need to learn anything ever-He already knows it. No surprises or wondering for God. He never says-Hmm…wonder what he’s up to, wonder how this is going to turn out? We wonder about stuff all the time. But our God doesn’t. He knows the beginning from the end. He knows exactly how it’s going to turn out. He knows who you are and He knows where you are.
Listen to how David continues-Ps 139:7-10. I love how he’s trying to think of all the possible options for hiding from God or getting too far away from Him. Up in the heavens to outer space? What if I joined SpaceX and went with Elon Musk to Mars? Or what if I went on a deep sea diving deep expedition in the ocean? Or I could go where the sun rises in the east or where it sets in the west-but even there-in all those places-your hand guides me and holds me fast. So Pt2: Nowhere I go is too far from God. Once again we arrive at the intimidating-but wonderfully encouraging truth-that there’s nowhere we can run to hide from God. Just as He knows everything about us, He sees everywhere we go-no matter how far it is. What’s the furthest place you’ve been from home? Could be halfway across the country, or out west at a National Park, maybe overseas in a different country or on a different continent. Anybody been to Antartica? That feels like about as far away from home as you could get! For me, the furthest I’ve been is India on a missions trip. And we would fly to Hyderabad-a big city for the bulk of the trip-but then we would take a few days to head out to the orphanage our church supported. And that was an internal flight in India to another city-then a 9 hour car ride through the mountains and jungle-rough, rocky roads-to another city where we would stay-and then another hour’s drive from there to the actual orphanage. So when our team was finally arrived I remember thinking we are really far away from home-as I’m adding up all the time it takes to get there. But even there-as far away from home as you can get, in the middle of nowhere or someplace completely new-Pt2.
Look at the next verses-Ps 139:11-12. Trying to hide from God doesn’t work-even in the darkest of places God still sees us. It’s like a little kid trying to play hide and seek. We all know how that goes-here’s a few pic. But this is a lot like us-and our efforts to hide from God. We might think He doesn’t see us-but He completely does. What did Adam and Eve try doing after they sinned-Gen 3:8-9. And this wasn’t God not sure where to look as Adam and Eve were hiding behind some palm trees playing a good game of hide-and-seek. This was an opportunity for confession. God wanted them to reflect on the foolishness of trying to hide from Him. He wanted them to step into the open and face Him, not hide in shame or think they could run somewhere that He couldn’t find. But how often do we try and do that? How often do we try to hide from God or think there’s some place we can go where He won’t find us? As one commentator said-Akin, 286. It just doesn’t work. We don’t have an option to hide from God or run away-no one can escape from Him. There is no corner of the universe or spot on the globe you can go to get away from His presence-you can only surrender to Him or ignore Him. It’s one or the other because there’s no place where He isn’t.
And that truth is reinforced by what David says next-Ps 139:13-14. We’re not even hidden from God when we’re hidden from the rest of the world as we’re being formed inside our mother’s womb. Even there He sees us-far more than that-He’s made us. He’s knitting us together. You’re His creation that’s fearfully and wonderfully made! When was the last time you wonderfully made something? We’ve all built things in life, created things, assembled something, put something together-maybe it was a project at home, your garden this summer, or something you built outside, maybe it was a room you remodeled in your house or some furniture you built-even a Lego set is wonderfully made after you get it all together! But maybe it was something you made at work-a big project or report you put together, a team of employees you built up, or even your company you worked hard at and wonderfully made into what it is today. But far more than any of those things-you yourself are wonderfully made by God. Who you are in all your uniqueness and gifts and talents, your personality, the way you look-there’s only one you that’s fearfully and wonderfully made. Pt3: Everything about me is intentionally designed by God. When was the last time you remembered that? Your life isn’t a tragic mistake, potential that never materialized, or a series of unfortunate events. You are made by God which gives you infinite value and significance. That means these verses highlight how sinful and tragic abortion is-that life does begin at conception as God is skillfully weaving us together. Or if God is the author of our lives as we said earlier and the one writing our story, then abortion is erasing some of His characters even before they ever get a chance to speak. Abortion is so offensive to God because He’s so involved in our lives right there in our mother’s womb. Look at Ps 139:15-16a. Yes, we understand the biology that takes place in a baby being born-but I love how David is pointing to the one who’s ultimately at work. That God is weaving you together-He’s sculpting you, molding you, stitching you and shaping you into who He’s called you to be. Your existence, who you are, is because of Him. Back to Pt3. He knows exactly what He’s doing. I picture a watchmaker using the tiny tools to install all the tiny gears. That’s the image of God forming you and weaving you together. Your life has purpose and meaning, your role is so necessary, your story is just as integral as every other person’s story in God’s great book!
Because listen to how David describes it-Ps 139:16b-17. God is writing the biggest and most complicated book ever-because He’s weaving all the threads of each of our stories, all the details and experiences of our lives, into one great story-the story of the ages-that glorifies Him and reveals His grace. So that means you have a role to play. You have a part in the story-and God’s already written it, all the days ordained for you. And as you trust God and follow His will for your life, when you go where He’s called you to go-you have to remember that God doesn’t write bad books! I’m sure we’ve all read a bad book or too in life. You picked up a novel or read something a friend recommended and thought this is terrible! I loved A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens when I read it back in high school-fabulous book-but I have to say that same year we also read Great Expectations by Dickens-it was terrible! Too me it didn’t live up to its title of those great expectations! He should have named it Low Expectations! But God not only has great expectations for us, He’s written our stories perfectly-just as He intended them to be-all the days ordained for us according to His perfect wisdom and counsel. So Pt4: Everything that happens to me is perfectly written by God. That does’t mean life is carefree and easy-or that nothing bad should happen to you. As in all good stories sometimes, many times, the characters go through some tough stuff, really difficult challenges-but that’s what shapes them into the beloved characters they are. And that’s exactly what God is doing for each of us. Shaping us into the beloved characters, shaping us into His beloved sons or daughters as He takes us through some tough stuff in life-because God knows that isn’t where it ends. God’s story for your life doesn’t end with the suffering. As we said back in Ps 23 the suffering is part of the journey but it isn’t the destination. Instead God’s story literally ends happily ever after. Have you thought about that? We will dwell with Him our perfect God, in a perfect world-the new heavens and new earth, with all of His people, our brothers and sisters in Christ, having finally been perfected and without sin. God’s story ends with His people living in a perfect world-and that means the story now-all the days ordained for you and written in His book-are bringing you to that ending.
And that brings us to the first of 2 applications this morning-App1:There’s no such thing as fortune, fate, or good luck. There’s no such thing as bad luck either! But nothing that happens to you happens by chance. Life isn’t getting lucky by being in the right spot at the right time-and if you miss it you’re out of luck. Life isn’t rolling the dice and hope it lands in your favor. Or the famous line-life is what you make of it. No-life isn’t what you make of it-life is following your God and His good plans for you. What does it say in Jer 29:11. God’s not guessing or wondering or making this up as He goes. He knows the plans He has for you. And when this was written it was when God’s people were in captivity in Babylon-not a good time-but even then God knew that His plans lead to hope and healing when we trust Him. And that’s exactly what David is saying-Ps 139:16b-17. If you’ve trusted in the Lord, then you can live with confidence that everything that’s happening in your life isn’t a stroke of bad luck or coincidence, but is exactly what your God has written out for you that will lead to blessing and praise as you follow Him. He designed your beginning, He knows your destiny-and He’s written out everything in-between. The road will be rough at times-but as we’ve seen in this Psalm-your God is with you through it all-there’s nowhere you can run from Him, nowhere you can hide, nowhere He isn’t with you. Not only is He the author writing your story, but He’s your companion in the story!
And this leads to our other App2: The One who knows me best, loves me the most. We said we’d circle back to this point-and it’s the heart of what Psalm 139 is all about. God knows every last detail of your life, every nook and cranny in your heart, every mistake you’ve made, secrets you’ve tried to hide, sins you struggle with and issues you face-and despite all of that He still loves you completely and thoroughly! He sees everything about you-and instead of punishing you, He showers you with grace and forgiveness in Christ. So what’s the response of our hearts to a God like that? It’s how David concludes-Ps 139:22-24. This is a call of surrender and invitation. God has already searched David’s heart, He already knows what’s in there. But David is asking God to do it-because David is acknowledging that he needs God to search him. And we do too. To let these verses become our invitation to God. Lord, I want you to search out all that’s in my heart, examine my thoughts which are so full of anxiety and stress half the time, see where I’m being stubborn and sinful and offensive to you. Show me that, reveal it to me so that I’ll leave it behind and go your way-the everlasting way. What keeps you praying that? Lord, tell me like it is-exactly what you see-because my heart is yours! Search me, O God, and know my heart.
Psalm 139 – Who Knows You Best