Again we turn to the Psalmist as we conclude our short journey through this beautiful Psalm 139. A Psalm that has recognized God in all his wonder, a Psalm that has praised God in every way – acknowledging His presence with us at all times, celebrating His knowledge of us from before we were born, rejoicing that He is always at our side blessing our lives and our service of Him. 18 verses have revealed to us the most amazing image of our Loving Heavenly Father.
It is almost too good to be true. Actually it is totally true – every word is a true reflection of God in all His glory. Why do you feel there is a “but” coming?
It is as if the Psalmist takes a time-out and reconnects to the world in which he lives. Something draws his attention to the world around him and, suddenly reality brings him down to earth. With a bump. Or a crash. Yes – all these things are true about God, but the world is not perfect. There is suffering, there is violence, there is hatred. It is not a perfect world and it is populated by imperfect and bad people.
And so the tone of the Psalm changes abruptly.
O that you would kill the wicked, O God,
and that the bloodthirsty would depart from me:
as well as those who speak maliciously against God.
And the Psalmist responds by hating the haters.
You can feel the anger. Feel the hatred. A perfect world ruined by sin.
And we would agree that the Psalmist has every right to be angry. All around him he can see the beauty of Creation. This marvelous world has everything we need to sustain us and our lives. But he has seen enough of the real world to know that the beauty and the value of this world is not respected.
Can we disagree? I think not. Whatever our political leaning may be, it cannot be right that some people live is grandeur and others in squalor. It cannot be right that some people have ready access to the most expensive of life-saving drugs while others can only die in pain and agony. It cannot be right that I could read an article in the AARP bulletin about intelligent people who compose scams to steal every cent from vulnerable elderly people who live alone, claiming to be helping them make arrangements for their funeral, leaving them destitute.
etc etc etc.
I’m sure there have been times when we felt that black cloud hovering over us and no matter what people say like: “think of the good times” – it doesn’t work. How is it that we can see such a change as came over the Psalmist in the Psalm?
Well, first of all, let’s rule out what it isn’t.
- It does not mean God has deserted us.
When God promises something that promise is 100% true. There can be no doubt. God is always with us wherever we are and whatever is happening to us.
- It does not mean God is putting us on trial.
It is not God’s way to “put us on trial”. A better meaning here would be to say to God: “please put me to work and prove me as ready to serve you”, like a metal worker might want a metal object to be tested for purity, before it is hallmarked.
God does not deliberately worsen our circumstances, but we know that when a crisis hit us, God will be with us – always.
So what are we to expect, as we look at the world around us?
It is in a mess! Yes – there are dictators who expect people to do as they are told for little or no money, and return to their hovels without complaining. Yes – there are countries where there is a huge difference between the wealthy and the poor. Yes – there will always be the risk of war and violence between nations. Yes – sin will always spoil God’s world.
But the Psalmist’s pessimism fades. He has expressed his anger and frustration – he knows the true answer is better.
He will not give in to the anger and frustration. That is where the sin comes in. God is better that all of this. His optimism returns and he returns to his theme:
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart, test me and know my thoughts.
24 See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
- He knows the better way – it is God’s way – and God has told us that very clearly;
- We know that God is stronger than any despair, stronger than any distress, stronger than the sinfulness of the world;
- We know that God is always with us – day and night – in every time and every location;
- We know that God is the solid foundation on which our lives are built. We know that God knows us better than we know ourselves;
- We know that God has written the plan of our lives and is giving us the strength to fulfill that plan, day by day.
And so, the Psalmist’s final thought is our thought:
Look at my life, O God, know my heart, O God, test me and know my heart is pure, and I am ready to be led in your way everlasting.