Psalm 139:1-4 “O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord.”
Almost all religions would agree that “God is great.” “Great is the Lord” is splashed across the pages of the Bible. Much of our worship intends to teach and celebrate the fact. If God is not great, we might wonder why anyone would believe in him.
But what is so great about God? A Christian book exists that asks just this question in its title. Popular atheist Christopher Hitchens asked the same question in his lectures. We can list God’s attributes, his characteristics, and see that he has an impressive resume of talents: all knowing, almighty, eternal, and present everywhere. But maybe that seems like abstract theology. We believe it is true, but we don’t see that it makes much difference in our lives.
The psalmist David believed these things about God, too. But for him, it wasn’t just abstract theology. It had to do with the most intimate details of his life. He picks up the topic of God’s knowledge in the first verses of Psalm 139. What interested David, and should interest us, isn’t the abstract idea that God knows everything. It is the intimate truth that if God knows all, then God knows me.
Your Lord is deeply interested in you. He has searched you. He has become intimately acquainted with everything about you. This is not a casual or incidental knowledge. He has delved deep, as we shall see. Nor is this a dispassionate, unfeeling knowledge like the scientist researching rats in the laboratory. His heartfelt, concerned interest in you runs far deeper than that of your closest friend, or spouse, or parent, or any other person who has ever cared about you. His searching and knowing of you is a characteristic of his unparalleled love.
Your Lord knows you, right down to the thoughts running through your head at this moment. “You perceive my thoughts from afar.” He knows if you are feeling anger, or guilt, or doubt, or even a deep sense of emptiness and loss. He knows if you don’t know what to think or feel.
Some of our thoughts are not good. It’s a good thing no one else can see into our mind to know them. But now the Lord comes along and says he does. He knew, long before we did, that we are sinners. And he knows that is why we don’t always feel so comfortable with him knowing us so well.
But that is not the reason he reveals he knows you so well. Our Lord uses his intimate, thorough knowledge of you and me only to help us. He knew that the only solution for our sins was to send his Son Jesus to live and die to take them away. He knew that this was a burden that he had to carry entirely for us. He knows that this is still the best and only solution for our anger, our guilt, our doubt, our lust, our envy and every other ungodly thought that strays through our minds. Give them to Jesus. Let him take it away. God knew that we would need him.
Then be sure that he knows our weaknesses, not to take advantage of them, but to help us overcome them. He knows our troubles, not to exploit them, but to help us with them. You see, God also knows you as his own. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me,” Jesus says. God’s knowledge of you is an invitation to seek him in prayer, and seek him in his word, and expect that he will take care of the needs of the dear people he knows to be his very own.