Soul-Searching: Psalm 139

What does it mean to search for something?

A search is not a low-energy effort to find something. A search is a deep, intense probing that will not stop until something is found. 

How do we search?
We pour through our environment intently looking to find that which we are seeking.

That is what we must ask God to do in our own hearts,

“Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!”- Psa 139:23-24

In Psalm 139, David is both asking God to and recognizes that he searches the heart. This idea of God searching our heart sandwiches (inclusio) the body of the Psalm, which describes God’s intimate knowledge of us in great detail,

“You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down… and are acquainted with all my ways.”-  Psa 139:2
“Where shall I go from your spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol [the grave], you are there!”- Psa 139:7-8 (cf. Rom 8:39)

God’s intimate knowledge of our whereabouts can be a great comfort to us and his inseparable presence gives us peace; but these can also be frightening realities in that we cannot hide our sin from God,

“If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night, even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you”- Psa 139:11

The reason God cares for us in this intimate way is that he made us intricately,
“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb”- Psa 139:13
(you’ve probably heard this verse used in pro-life contexts)
None of us are accidents or random projects, but intentional creations of God.

It is due to God’s intimate knowledge and care for us that makes him uniquely qualified to search our hearts. David has a similar message to Jeremiah,
“The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately sick; who can understand it? I [Yahweh] search the heart and test the mind” - Jer 17:9-10
This language closely mirrors David’s prayer. The heart is the most deceptive thing there is- therefore a person is unable to do an honest search of their own heart.
God searches the heart and he examines the contents of it.
In David’s prayer, he is asking for God’s help against enemies and expresses loyalty to God’s way. Yet, he closes with asking God to search his heart. David is aware that he may be harboring ungodly attitudes in his heart- those befitting for the enemies of God, but not for an ally of God. 

“And see if there be any grievous [painful; offensive] way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!”- Psa 139:24

When we are open to it, God will search our heart- but we must allow him to unveil discoveries we wish to remain buried. He will present the grade of our heart, if we allow him to give us the test. Even though we may be unaware of those ways, there are ways in our heart that cause pain to ourselves, others and God. Our prayer then should be that God would dig through the depths of of our heart and search us and then change our heart to pursue ways that last forever- that will lead to permanent bliss.

God knows you better than you know you- the focus of the Psalm is how intimately God knows us! Can we expect to hide anything from him? The truth of the matter is- the heart is the most deceptive thing there is, so there are things within our heart that we are NOT aware of. It is both to our benefit and detriment that God is the one who probes our heart.

So ask God in prayer to search your heart and reveal sins you may be unaware of. I can attest in my experience God will do that and then (since he loves us to so intimately) he will, 
“lead [us] in the way everlasting”! 



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