The Ways of God

Scripture Passage: 
Psalm 139:1-24
Attached audio files: 

INTRODUCTION: This is a psalm of David. Although we are not told of the circumstances in which it was written, it certainly matches David’s emotions in 2 Samuel 7 and 1 Chronicles 17. In these chapters, David determines to build God a house—the temple. God does not allow David to build the house but passes this honor to David’s son. However, God promises a house—a dynastic reigning line—to David. David’s reaction in 1 Chronicles 17:16-27 matches the tone of this psalm. Notice especially Psalm 139:6 (“Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.”) and Psalm 139:17 (“How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!’).

  1. THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD (Psalm 139:1-6)
    1. The Fact of God’s Knowledge (Psalm 139:1)
      1. “Thou hast searched me” (Psalm 44:21; Hebrews 4:12-13).
      2. “And known me” (Jeremiah 17:9-10)
    2. The Content of God’s Knowledge (Psalm 139:2-4)
      1. Our daily close and beginning - “Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising” (Psalm 139:2a). Note: This is another evidence of God’s design for a day being evening and morning (Genesis 1:5). Gentiles would say “uprising and downsitting,” but a Jewish man would say “downsitting and uprising.”
      2. Our distant thoughts - “thou understandest my thought afar off” (Psalm 139:2b).
      3. Our daily walk - “Thou compassest my path and my lying down” (Psalm 139:3a).
      4. Our habitual ways - “and art acquainted with all my ways” (Psalm 139:3b)
      5. Our unspoken words – “For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether” (Psalm 139:4; Psalm 38:9; Matthew 6:8).
    3. The Extent of God’s Knowledge (Psalm 139:5-6)
      1. Our surroundings (Psalm 139:5)
        1. “Thou hast beset me behind.”
        2. Thou hast beset me before.
        3. Thou hast “laid thine hand upon me.”
      2. The greatness of His knowledge (Psalm 139:6)
        1. “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me” (Psalm 40:5).
        2. “It is high, I cannot attain unto it” (Job 26:14; Job 42:3; Romans 11:33).
  2. THE PRESENCE OF GOD (Psalm 139:7-12)
    1. The Problem of God’s Presence (Psalm 139:7)
      1. Not that God leaves us (Joshua 1:9)
      2. But that we leave Him
        1. We roam – “Whither shall I go from thy spirit?”
        2. We run – “whither shall I flee from thy presence?”
    2. The Possibilities of God’s Presence (Psalm 139:8-12)
      1. Dominion – “If I ascend up into heaven” (Psalm 139:8)
        1. A picture of times of blessing and elevation in this world
        2. We tend to think we do not need God and these times become a great temptation (1 Timothy 3:6).
        3. Paul had to learn to abound and be full (Philippians 4:11-13).
        4. The example of David
          1. His elevation (2 Samuel 7:8-11)
          2. His temptation (2 Samuel 11:1-2)
          3. God’s presence (2 Samuel 12:7, 13)
      2. Depth – “If I make my bed in hell” (Psalm 139:8)
        1. A picture of times of despair and trouble
        2. The example of Joseph
          1. His troubles (Psalm 105:17-18)
          2. God’s presence (Psalm 105:19)
          3. His elevation (Psalm 105:20-21)
      3. Distance – “If I take the wings of the morning” (Psalm 139:9)
        1. A picture of times when we get away from God
        2. The example of Jonah
          1. His flight from God (Jonah 1:1-3)
          2. His descent (Jonah 1:4-5, 15-17)
          3. God’s presence (Jonah 2:1, 10)
      4. Darkness – “If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me” (Psalm 139:11-12)
        1. A picture of times when men feel hidden from God
        2. The example of Mephibosheth
          1. His condition (2 Samuel 9:3, 8)
          2. God’s presence (2 Samuel 9:1, 7)
          3. His provision (2 Samuel 9:9-10)
    3. The Provision of God’s Presence (Psalm 139:10-12)
      1. To lead us (Psalm 139:10) – “Even there shall thy hand lead me.”
      2. To lift us (Psalm 139:10) – “thy right hand shall hold me.”
      3. To lighten us (Psalm 139:11) – “even the night shall be light about me.”
  3. THE WISDOM OF GOD (Psalm 139:13-16)
    1. In the Making of Man (Psalm 139:13-14)
      1. The possessing of his reins (Psalm 139:13)
        1. The reins are mentioned 15 times in the Bible. Literally, the reins refer to the kidneys and that is the older meaning of the word.
        2. In scripture, the reins are mentioned with the heart seven times (Psalm 7:9; Psalm 26:2; Psalm 73:21; Jeremiah 11:20; Jeremiah 17:10; Jeremiah 20:12; Revelation 2:23).
        3. The reins refer to the seat of the emotions and affections of man.
          1. They instruct in the night seasons (Psalm 16:7).
          2. We can be pricked in our reins (Psalm 73:21).
          3. Our reins rejoice (Proverbs 23:16).
          4. We can say with our mouth what is not in our reins (Jeremiah 12:2).
        4. The reins are said to be tried by the Lord five times (Psalm 7:9; Psalm 26:2; Jeremiah 11:20; Jeremiah 17:10; Jeremiah 20:12). He also searches the reins (Revelation 2:23). Therefore, when we are judged by the Lord, we are judged to a great degree by what is in our reins.
      2. The covering in the womb (Psalm 139:13; Psalm 22:10)
      3. The greatness of God’s creation of man (Psalm 139:14)
        1. Fearfully made
        2. Wonderfully made
        3. Marvelously made
      4. The acknowledgement of the psalmist (Psalm 139:14)
        1. To praise the Lord
        2. To acknowledge His greatness – “that my soul knoweth right well”
    2. In the Molding of Man’s Substance (Psalm 139:15-16)
      1. Not hid from God (Psalm 139:15)
        1. My substance was not hid from thee.
        2. When I was made in secret
        3. When wrought in the lowest parts of the earth
      2. Seen in imperfection (Psalm 139:16)
      3. His members written in a book (Psalm 139:16)
        1. Which were fashioned
        2. When there were none of them
  4. THE GOODNESS OF GOD (Psalm 139:17-18)
    1. His Great Thoughts Toward Man (Psalm 139:17-18)
      1. How precious are thy thoughts (Psalm 139:17).
      2. How great is the sum of them (Psalm 139:17).
      3. More in number than the sand (Psalm 139:18)
    2. His Continual Thoughts Toward Man (Psalm 139:18)
      1. Subject of thoughts in the night (Psalm 16:7; Psalm 17:3; Psalm 42:8; Psalm 63:6; Psalm 119:55)
      2. But still just as real in the morning (Psalm 77:6) – “I am still with thee.”
  5. THE JUDGMENT OF GOD (Psalm 139:19-22)
    1. His Judgment Against Wicked Men (Psalm 139:19a, 20)
      1. Thou will slay the wicked (Psalm 139:19a).
      2. The wicked speak against God (Psalm 139:20).
    2. His Support by the Psalmist (Psalm 139:19b, 21-22)
      1. His shunning of bloody men (Psalm 139:19b)
      2. His hatred of those who hate God (Psalm 139:21)
      3. His grief with those who rise up against God (Psalm 139:21)
      4. His hatred of them with perfect hatred (Psalm 139:22)
      5. He counts them as enemies (Psalm 139:22).
  6. THE SEARCHING OF GOD (Psalm 139:23-24)
    1. The Prayer of the Psalmist (Psalm 139:23)
      1. Search me, and know my heart.
      2. Try me, and know my thoughts.
    2. The Purpose of the Prayer (Psalm 139:24)
      1. Find any wicked way (Psalm 7:3-4)
      2. Lead me in the way everlasting (Psalm 5:8).

CONCLUSION: God knows everything about us and we can never escape His presence or His all-seeing eye. However, His works are marvelous and His thoughts toward us are precious. We must trust in Him and pray that He will reveal to us anything that separates us from Him. His knowledge and presence comfort and strengthen us.

David Reagan and Andrew Ray

Daily Proverb

Proverbs 21:27

The sacrifice of the wicked is abomination: how much more, when he bringeth it with a wicked mind?