Psalm 139 is a favorite of mine. It can be very comforting knowing that God is intimately familiar with me. He knows my struggles, my good intentions, what I long for and what I need.
You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
(Psalm 139:1-4) On the other hand, God knows my demons, my sinful thoughts, my envious, hateful, spiteful and selfish thoughts. He not only sees the good things I do and think (that I want others to know); He sees the bad things I do and think (that I want no one to see). The idea that God knows me so well – even better than I know myself – is both a wonderful and a fearful thing!
Amazingly, even so, God loves me. He knows me intimately – better than I know myself. And He still loves me.
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence
(Psalm 139:7) King David’s question is rhetorical of course. The answer is clearly nowhere. Nowhere can I go that God is not present. David takes comfort in that thought.
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
(Psalm 139:8-10) That knowledge is as unnerving as it is comforting. Nowhere can I go that God is not present and nothing can I do, or even think, that God does not know it. David knew this full well. He learned it intimately through experience.
After he was tempted and succumbed to that temptation, seeing Bathsheba from his roof top, inviting her into his home and lying with her, and then plotting to send her husband to his death to cover up the misdeed, David was called to account by God in dramatic fashion. David’s sin was laid bare. He was completely undone by it. So, David knew well these words:
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
(Psalm 139:11-12) When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden, their first reaction was to hide themselves from God. People have been hiding from God ever since to this day. Hiding from God is as futile an exercise as it is foolish. God knows every hair on our heads and every thought that runs through our heads. He surely knows every action that we take. There is nothing hidden from God.
God sees into the hearts of men. Jesus lamented, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.” Matthew 23:26-28 Jesus also upped the ante: He said, the law states “thou shall not commit murder” and “thou shall not commit adultery,” but one who harbors anger against another person is subject to judgment and one who harbors lustful thoughts for his neighbor’s wife has committed adultery in his heart. Matthew 5:20-28
God knows exactly what is in our hearts, even if we are able to hide the character of our own hearts from others and to deceive even ourselves.
It is easy to consider our actions only in terms of what others see, or what we think others see. We maintain our facades and hide the proverbial skeletons in the closet. In that world of half-truth, we compare ourselves to others and think ourselves not so bad. But God knows the truth…
… And He loves us anyway. Jesus died for us, knowing who we were, knowing the thoughts and intents of our hearts, knowing that we were sinners.
We may fool others, and we may even trick ourselves, but our condition is not hidden from God who sees each of our hearts and knows what we do in the darkness out of the view of others. Ultimately, everything will be exposed. “He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart.” 1 Corinthians 4:4-6
The terrible truth is that every person has sinned; we have all missed the mark God set for us. Ephesians 2:23 If anyone claims he has not sinned, he is not being truthful. 1 John 1:10
The devil is a liar and the father of all lies. John 8:44 The devil would have us believe ourselves not so bad. God is truth. John 4:24
He knows exactly how bad we are, but He loves us anyway!
If we step into the light, our condition is exposed. But, that is where we find truth; that is where we find God. Our natural inclination is to shrink back, but God calls us out of darkness into His wonderful light. 1 Peter 2:8-10 In that light, with our sinfulness exposed, we ask for forgiveness, and our sins are forgiven.
God is truth, and we draw near to God when we draw near to truth, even the ugly truth of the sin that lurks in our own hearts. Only in the light of God’s truth can we find the comfort that comes with communion with God in spirit and truth. “[A] time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” John 4:23-24
We do that when we first put off the charade and understand, intimately, that God knows everything – every single thing – about us. He knows it all.
And He still loves us!
Like the woman caught in adultery, God is not (now) ready to condemn us. God sent His son into the world, not to condemn the world, but to save the world. (John 3:17) Jesus said:
“If anyone hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge that person. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world.” (John 12:47)
But then he added,
“There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day.: (John 12:48)
God does not condemn us now, though He knows us intimately well, but we will not escape on the Day of Judgment if we remain as we are.
Jesus came into to the world, not to condemn it, but to save it. He offers the solution to our sin – the impurity that would exclude us from God’s presence on the Day of Judgment. He gave Himself up for us, offering His life for ours, so that we can stand free of the consequences of our sin, having been purified from it by the offer of his own life. Justice was done. Jesus took the penalty of our sin so that God could offer us mercy.
When we come fully to realize that God knows us intimately, from every good thought and deed to every bad thought and act we have ever committed, and come face to face with the ramifications of that knowledge, only then can we appreciate what He has done for us. Though we shudder at the thought that our lives are laid utterly bare, we can embrace, as David did, the fact that God loves us anyway – so much that He gladly offered up His very self for us, emptying Himself of His privilege as God to take on human form and die for us. (Philippians 2:6-8):
being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
“Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.” Psalm 32:1-3
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:5-6