My response to day 4:
Psalm 139:1-16 is such a moving piece of the Bible. I am a rather private person. There’s a lot about me that I don’t talk about. Partially because I don’t want people to know, partially because frankly there’s not a lot of people who show they want to know. This includes a lot of joys and a lot of pains. My efforts at self-improvement, my insecurities, and everything in between. It is simply impossible to not be in the presence of God.
The word that NASB dubs “enclosed” in verse 5 is often translated as “besieged” but the idea behind the word is something like “envelop.” The idea being that God has surrounded believers like myself with his protective force.
These verses speak highly of God’s knowable power, but also acknowledge how incomprehensible God really is. I think this adds to the sense of awe that I feel when I read this psalm. I’m reminded of Jesus’s talk about the flowers and birds of the field in Matthew 6, and the sparrows in Matthew 10.
Verses 19-22 throw me off. The psalmist, presumably David, has just spoken of God’s greatness and protective ability – then speaks of the trouble he’s been in. And David was certainly in a lot of trouble throughout his life. Wars with other nations, being hunted down by Saul, the consequences of infidelity, yet he remarks on God’s protective power? This is like when someone gets into a car accident and is badly injured, but then people give thanks to God that they weren’t killed. Can you really say God was being protective? A protective God would have tried preventing the car wreck in the first place, no?
Maybe God has a track record of sorts with David before this psalm was written. Where God protected and provided for David in miraculous or otherwise wonderful ways, perhaps just in the little things in life. So in these bigger things even if crisis wasn’t totally averted or prevented, David still has the level of trust and relationship with God needed to say it was him. Maybe I need to work on creating this kind of track record with God as well. The problem is – how do I know when something is God’s doing, and when it’s just circumstances of life? I see so many things in my life that maybe God has done, but were just as likely and possible had I been atheist. Nothing really stands out as being truly a work of divinity.
I also struggle with the fact these lofty promises of providence and protection often do not turn out true, in my life and in the lives of others. I feel like people who do are either glossing over instances where they were not protected or provided for, deciding such instances “weren’t that big a deal,” or just outright lying.
Verses 23-24 make for a great prayer for someone who would truly be a disciple. “Search me to my deepest, find anything unpleasing to you, and lead me out of it.”
It would be interesting to see what would happen if I tried being more aware of God’s intensely close presence in my life. I can be convinced of his omnipresence and his omniscience. I believe in God’s perfect goodness, but I am burnt by the numerous instances of it not playing out like you’d reasonably expect.