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Psalm One Hundred and Thirty Nine

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.

Psalm 139:1 O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me.

known me. Psalm 139 is a remarkable testimony to the attributes of God. It is divided into four stanzas of six verses each. Psalm 139:1-6 describes His omniscience; Psalm 139:7-12 deals with His omnipresence; Psalm 139:13-18 emphasizes His omnipotence; and Psalm 139:19-24 stresses what might be called His omnirighteousness. The first stanza says that God knows everything about each of us; the second says He sees everything around us; the third shows that He does everything for us; and the last notes that He judges everything in us.

Psalm 139:2 Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off.

my. This psalm is intensely personal. The first person pronouns (“I,” “me,” etc.) occur forty-eight times in these twenty-four verses, and the second person pronouns (“thou,” “thine,” etc.) occur twenty-eight times.

my thought. It is striking to realize that God, because of His omnipresence and omniscience, continually knows the thoughts of all His creatures.

Psalm 139:3 Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.

Psalm 139:4 For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether.

Psalm 139:5 Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me.

behind and before. Psalm 139:5 notes God's knowledge of the past, the future and the present.

Psalm 139:6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.

cannot attain unto it. Psalm 139:6 stresses the foolishness of men who would try to comprehend the mysteries of God's omniscience. This surely includes the attempt to understand the mystery of the paradoxical relation between divine sovereignty and human liberty.

Psalm 139:7 Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?

Psalm 139:8 If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.

thou art there. Thus God is omnipresent. Since he is always present everywhere, He cannot actually be seen anywhere, except in some special theophany or incarnation. See notes on John 1:18.

Psalm 139:9 If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;

wings of the morning. This phrase speaks of the east; “uttermost parts of the [Mediterranean] sea” speaks of the west. Whether highest heaven or deepest hell (Psalm 139:8), east or west, day or night (Psalm 139:10-11), God is omnipresent.

Psalm 139:10 Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.

Psalm 139:11 If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me.

Psalm 139:12 Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.

Psalm 139:13 For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb.

covered me. “Covered equals “shielded.” This is a beautiful metaphor for the marvelous provisions for the protection of the embryonic child while growing in the womb.

Psalm 139:14 I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.

wonderfully. The word “wonderfully” stresses the aspect “differently.” That is, each baby is designed to be like all human beings in over-all aspect, but uniquely different from all others in detail.

Psalm 139:15 My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.

My substance. This refers to the basic frame or skeleton. Note also the similar testimony in Ecclesiastes 11:5. The marvels of embryonic growth are still largely unexplained by scientists, but God knows!

curiously wrought. “Curiously wrought” means “embroidered,” a striking description of the double-helical DNA molecular program, which organizes part by part the beautiful structure of the whole infant.'

lowest parts. For “lowest parts,” read “nether parts,” or “hidden parts.” God made these hidden parts, or elements, of the earth, then formed Adam's body from this “dust of the earth” (Genesis 2:7). He created within the body of Adam and Eve the marvelous and complex ability to multiply that body, finally to generate from these lowest parts of the earth through the curiously wrought embroidery of DNA all the many billions of their descendants, including David himself.

Psalm 139:16 Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.

unperfect. This “substance yet being unperfect” is one word in the Hebrew, meaning simply “embryo.” God is watching over each embryonic human being from the moment of conception. There is never a time when it is “recapitulating” its imaginary evolutionary ancestry, as the so-called “pro-choice” people seem to think. The baby is “unperfect,” not “imperfect,” until it is ready for delivery, but it is always truly human, with an eternal soul.

continuance. “In continuance” is the same as “days” in Hebrew. That is, God was overseeing the development of all the days of the life, as well as the substance of the body.

fashioned. The embryo is being “fashioned” in a way analogous to the way in which God “formed” (same word) the body of Adam from the dust of the earth (Genesis 2:7).

Psalm 139:17 How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!

thy thoughts. We should desire to think God's thoughts after Him, as the early scientists (e.g., Kepler, Newton, Maxwell) used to say. He knows our thoughts (Psalm 139:2), and we should seek diligently to bring all our thoughts “into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). We can never exhaust the mind of Christ or the Word of God!

Psalm 139:18 If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.

Psalm 139:19 Surely thou wilt slay the wicked, O God: depart from me therefore, ye bloody men.

Psalm 139:20 For they speak against thee wickedly, and thine enemies take thy name in vain.

Psalm 139:21 Do not I hate them, O LORD, that hate thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee?

Psalm 139:22 I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies.

mine enemies. We should love our personal enemies (Matthew 5:44), but hate with perfect hatred (i.e., Godly hatred) those who have made themselves enemies of God.

Psalm 139:23 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:

know my thoughts. The psalmist David prayed (and so should we) that God would discover and remove any “wicked way” even in his thought-life.

Psalm 139:24 And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.