139. An Outline of Psalm 139. The Character Of The God Who Knows, Loves And Cares. Series No.1 of 7

In this 139th article it would be a shame not to say something about that magnificent Psalm 139. In seminars in the past when we have taught on the Psalm, a lot of deep healing has taken place. The truths it contains are powerful and indeed life-changing. We will do a quick outline of the Psalm and then in later articles look at the riches the Psalm contains.

What we say in prayer gives a good indication of how we view God and our relationship with Him. The prayer of the writer of Psalm 139, King David, showed that he obviously wanted to be in the centre of the will of God. In the Psalm he recalls the attributes of the God to whom he prays.  He describes God as:-

  • Omniscient. He is the One who knows all things. Nothing past, present or future is hidden from Him.
  • Omnipresent. He can be experienced in any place by those who want to know Him.
  • Omnipotent. He is the God who can do all things that are in accord with His purpose.

The Psalm ends with a prayer in which David invites this all-knowing, ever-present, all-powerful God to search him so that he can be aware of the areas of his life that need change in the sight of God. Then he believes that as he cooperates with God he can continue to be led in God’s eternal way. His prayer is based upon his understanding of God. It reminds us that all prayer needs to be based on the character of God as He has revealed Himself in the Bible.  So here is an outline of the Psalm.

The first thing David recognises about God is that He knows everything, so that he cannot hide from Him, even if he wanted to.


{1}  O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. {2} You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. {3} You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. {4} Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD. {5} You hem me in‑‑behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. {6} Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.

Secondly David knows that there is nowhere to escape from God.


{7} Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? {8} If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. {9} If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, {10} even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. {11} If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,”  {12} even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.

 Thirdly, David was aware of the Almightiness of God.


{13} For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. {14} I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. {15} My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, {16} your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. {17} How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! {18} Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with you.

 He is our Creator.  He made us for Himself.  He made us for a purpose. In the light of this great love, what is meant to be the response to Him? For King David, the experience of God’s love made him committed to serve God throughout His life.  He would never side with God’s enemies as verses 19-22 show. {19} If only you would slay the wicked, O God! Away from me, you bloodthirsty men! {20} They speak of you with evil intent; your adversaries misuse your name. {21} Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD, and abhor those who rise up against you? {22} I have nothing but hatred for them; I count them my enemies.

This led to his prayer of openness to God, that he might become the person God wanted him to be.


{23} Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. {24} See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Nothing is hidden from God.  He knows all the things that have made us what we are.

He knows the damage others have caused us by their words and deeds.

He knows the things we have said and done, that have harmed us and others. He knows the inner attitudes we have, that are destructive to our human relationships.

David comes with an openness to God that God might search him. He wants to be all that God wants him to be. If he is carrying anxiety which is indicative of a lack of trust in God, then he wants God to reveal it, so that he can be rid of that anxiety and be more useful as a man of God.

If he has areas of his life that are an offense to God, he wants God to show him so that he might repent of them and be changed.  The word can also mean an image or an idol. God knows the idols we have in our lives that stop us from being totally committed to God.  It could be the idols of covetousness and greed. Or the hankering after a status or relationship or power that is not what God wants for us. Or it can mean the deep inner pain or sorrow that inwardly paralyses us, and to some extent, ruins our lives. Whatever it is, David prays, {24} See if there is any offensive (harmful, wicked way), (or any path that grieves God)  in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”  He wants to be free of anything that would mar his relationship with God, and prevent him from reaching his potential before God.

Is that what you and I want? Would we be game to let God shine the searchlight of His purity and His love into our hearts? Why not pray the prayer and see what God does in your life, to your benefit and to His glory.

Blog No. 139. Jim Holbeck. Posted on Thursday 6th February 2014

About Jim Holbeck

Once an Industrial Chemist working for the Queensland Government but later an Anglican minister in Brisbane, Armidale and Sydney. Last position for eighteen years before retirement in 2006 was as the Leader of the Healing Ministry at St Andrew's Cathedral Sydney.
This entry was posted in Bible verses. Comments, Forgiveness, Healing, Prayer, Studies in Psalm 139, TOPICS and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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