David’s Psalm 139, is both a love poem and a prayer of great force.
God is the Ground of Being itself, in whom all things find their being. It is He who creates and sustains all things, seen and unseen, from the furthest distances of space to the infinite smallness of subatomic reality. God gives his loving attention to all of reality at every moment. More importantly, he is intimate with and knows each one of us at every moment and in every place.
David’s Psalm 139, is both a love poem and a prayer of great force. It is a recognition of God’s intimate, all-knowing, omnipresence in all of creation, especially in each of our personal lives. David came to know this intimacy personally and his psalm expresses his humble awe at this realization. “Lord, you have probed me, you know me: you know when I sit and stand; you understand my thoughts from afar…Even before a word is on my tongue, Lord, you know it.” We can see that he has experienced God’s intimate presence when he says, “Behind and before you encircle me and rest your hand upon me.” Everything he has said here is true for each one of us as well. Do we see this? Do we know and believe it?
David also recognizes that God is present in all of creation. He has come to realize that he cannot escape God’s presence or his intimate knowledge of him. No matter where he goes, or how hard he tries to flee from God, God is always there and he realizes that, no matter where he is (or we are) “your hand guides me.” But he recognizes too, that there are those who are foolish enough, arrogant enough to “conspire to plot against” God and who are exalted “in vain” in this world. He expresses a desire to be removed from the company of such people. As we should also do.
More importantly, David recognizes the intimate love of God that has been present to him from the beginning when he says, “You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb, I praise you, because I am wonderfully made…” He also recognizes that God’s intimate care and affection goes out to all of his creation too when he writes, “wonderful are your works.” This knowledge causes a humble awe in David. As it should within us.
David ends his prayer by expressing his desire to openly invite this intimacy of God saying, “Probe me, God, know my heart: try me, know my thoughts. See if there is a wicked path in me; lead me along an ancient path.” He is not afraid of God’s omniscience. Indeed, he invites it even more into his conscience so that he might better love God in return. He is not intimidated by God’s intimate presence, but invites it even more into his consciousness. He realizes that knowledge of God’s presence at all times, is a recognition of God’s constant, ever-present love which guides him, counsels him, and helps him to grow more into the person that God made him to be.
This can be our prayer as well.