1 O Lord, thou hast searched me, and known me.
Israel was surrounded by idolatry. Whether it was the nations around them when they were free, the Babylonian society when they were in captivity, or some of their own people in both situations, they were well acquainted with the gods that man had created. Each of these gods was limited in its capacity. For a good example of this, read the conflict between Elijah and the prophets of Baal in I Kings 18. The mighty prophet of God challenged the false prophets to call on their god to bring down fire from heaven. “And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them. And it came to pass, when midday was past, and they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that there was neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded.” (I Kings 18:28-29). The remainder of the chapter shows how Jehovah God responded to the request for fire from above.
In contrast to the false gods, the writer of Psalm 139 would have his readers understand that the true God is not limited in any way. There is not a time of day in which He is not present. No thought nor word can be hidden from Him. Darkness cannot cloak the actions of His creation. The highest heights and deepest depths find Him there.
Think about this great truth as it relates to comfort. There is no situation in our lives of which our God is unaware. There is no time or place in which we cannot seek God and find Him if we seek Him according to His will (I John 5:14-15). His Word is at our fingertips. His merciful ear is open to the prayers of the faithful (Psalm 34:15). He will not sleep (Psalm 121:3). He will not go on a journey to a distant land in which He cannot hear (Acts 17:27-28). Lovingly and tenderly He says to His faithful ones, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” (Hebrews 13:5).
When we’re struggling with life’s troubles, it’s amazing how quickly we can go from a high to a low. One day we can be on top of the world with everything appearing to be going our way. The next day we can feel as though we’ve been abandoned. There are so many factors that contribute to these seemingly sudden changes. A physical illness could dull our senses. Something we hear, something we see or even something we smell could bring to mind a sad thought. Anyone who has lost a loved one knows how this feels. A certain song comes on the radio and immediately you’re transported back to the time when you and that loved were listening to that song together. You want the memory to make you happy and perhaps it does for a moment, but then you begin missing your beloved. A certain smell wafts through the air and it’s almost as if the one with whom you associate that smell is in the room with you. Sadness ensues when you realize that he or she is not there. There are so many things that can trigger sadness but no matter where or when they happen, we have the God of all comfort at our side.
When this Psalmist considered the omnipresence of God, he wrote, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me.” (verse 6). The word “wonderful” means “incomprehensible, extraordinary.” When he talks about dwelling “in the uttermost parts of the sea,” in verse nine, he immediately follows that consideration with, “Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.” In verse eighteen, after commenting on God’s thoughts, the writer says, “when I awake, I am still with thee.” God was there when the Psalmist went to sleep, while he slept and when he arose in the morning. He was there, as we say in our terminology, “24/7/365.”
How marvelous it is to consider the fact that we can find God any time of day or night. When troubles strike or when the residual pain of these troubles rears its ugly head, we can turn to God and find Him there. Let us not deprive ourselves of this great blessing by limiting our contact with God to a building or an assembling with the church for worship. Saying this does not diminish the importance of worshipping with the saints (see this book’s chapter on Psalm 95). It’s just that we should not think of God as being confined to a certain place. When Solomon dedicated the temple to God he said, “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded?” (I Kings 8:27).
Israelite parents were taught how to bring their children up in God’s way. They were told, “And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7). They were to instruct their children in righteousness at home, in their travels, at night and in the morning. When we need the comfort that only God can supply, may we follow this example and also seek Him when we’re at home, when we’re away from home, at night time and in the day. In other words, let us never limit our contact with the infinite source of comfort for He is there for us “24/7/365.”
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