In the entire Book of Psalms, the 139th sits as its climax. British biblical scholar, R.E.O. White said "this psalm represents the peak of the Psalter, the maturest individual faith in the Old Testament, and the clearest anticipation of the New."
GOD IS OMNIPRESENT
Psalm 139 speaks of God as omnipresent and all-knowing. This understanding is a hallmark of honest, sensible living and is foundational to developing intimacy with God and living a transparent life. Knowing that God is omnipresent helps believers keep short accounts with God and encourages familiarity with the confessional.
Personal moments of terror with my own journey into advanced degenerative disability (multiple sclerosis) have brought me back, time and again, to the comfort of Psalm 139. God knows my terror; His hand rests upon me!
Lord you have probed me, you know me:
You know when I sit and stand;
You understand my thoughts from afar.
My travels and my rest you mark;
With all my ways you are familiar.
Even before a word is off my tongue,
Lord you know it all.
Behind and before you encircle me
And rest your hand upon me.
The undeniable truth is that an intimate touch of an omnipresent God, who is all-knowing, has soothed tormented souls throughout the ages. It's reassuring to know that I do not even need to blurt out clumsy words - words that always fall short of expressing sorrow and fear.
God understands my thoughts and knows what I want to say before the words leave my lips. He encircles me with divine love and places his hand on my shoulder (just like he did before my birth). What exquisite intimacy! God's word tells me it is so.
And then I realize that God's word is a spiritual staircase: From the beginning of time the Word was with God and the Word was God (John 1:1). The word became flesh in Jesus Christ and dwelt among humanity (John 1:14). The Word will lead me home, regardless of what happens here.
THE PERFECT LOVER
What perfect romance! Charles Wesley's 18th century hymn was absolutely correct: Jesus is the lover of my soul. He has been the lover of my soul since I was conceived in my mother's womb. He embraces me in the darkest moments of my sorrow and pain just as He has embraced generations of humanity in theirs. Our darkness is not dark to God. The psalmist wrote, "Darkness is not dark for you, and night shines as the day. Darkness and light are as one" (139:12).
Christ drives back human darkness. He calls to you and me, "Take courage! It is I, do not be afraid!"
He says those words to me when I find myself in the ̔dark nights of the soul̕. My terror has been a body slowly becoming a carcass. Christ rests his hand upon my shoulder and asks me to let him use my affliction as a vehicle for my spiritual purification. There's so much with me that needs to be purified.
My curse becomes part of my blessing. As I surrender fear and my silly notions of God, and how my life was supposed to be, I can see the darkness of sorrow and bitterness being pushed back for the love of God to flood into my life.
MY DEEPEST LONGING
The lover of my soul knows that my deepest longing is not to walk or run again: My deepest longing is to soar to heaven in his love. Although I didn't know it until now, that's been my deepest yearning since before my birth. God was with me in my mother's womb.
Wonderful are your works!
My very self you knew;
My bones were not hidden from you,
When I was being made in secret,
Fashioned as in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes foresaw my actions;
In your book all are written down;
My days were shaped, before one came to be."
I know now that the MS was no accident. It's just a chapter in that book. The title of the chapter is 'Purification'. My disease does define me, it refines me; it is not destroying my life but preparing me for something and somewhere far richer and more abundant than this life. Christ is true to me; I must be true to him.
Yes, Psalm 139 is pro-life with good reason. The Author of life and love oversees it all. (See below.)
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