Do We Want To Know What God Thinks Of Us? Like many writers, I use software to evaluate what I write, including the title. According to that software, the title of this one is positive. I can’t help but wonder, how many of us think it’s positive? How many of us, if we had the opportunity, would really want to hear what God thinks of us?
Not us, as in people in general. I mean us, as in the individual we see when we look in the mirror. Just imagine, face to face with God, and it’s evaluation time. If you could do that, right now, would you?
It is possible, you know.
And it is going to happen. You know – in the end?
But wouldn’t it be nice to know before it’s too late to do anything about it?
Kind of like an Ebenezer Scrooge sort of thing. Except it’s about keeping the Christ spirit, not the Christmas spirit. After all, they are two very different things.
What does God think about us, since He knows all about us?
We do have an example in the Bible where someone did that very thing. It’s David. King David. We read it in Psalm 139.
For the director of music. Of David. A psalm.
As we proceed through this, try to see how much this Psalm scares you and how much it brings comfort to you.
The knowledge that a holy God sees every thought and deed is disconcerting to the guilty, but wonderfully comforting to the forgiven and saved soul. 1Comfort, R. (2003). The Evidence Bible: Irrefutable Evidence for the Thinking Mind, Notes. (K. Cameron, Ed.) (p. 803). Orlando, FL: Bridge-Logos.
I have one additional consideration as we go through this Psalm, although this one is more general in nature.
The whole psalm is a prayer that consists of praise (vv. 1–18) and petitions (vv. 19–24). It should not escape our notice that the praise comes first and receives much more attention. We have a tendency to rush to God with our petitions and to spend most of our time on them. 2Ellsworth, R. (2006). Opening up Psalms (p. 125). Leominster: Day One Publications.
Ps 139:1 O LORD, you have searched me and you know me.
To be sure the depth of this Psalm is understood, consider what searched and know meant when this Psalm was written.
“Searched” meant to examine thoroughly. Not just a casual search or cursory look at us. Rather, a complete examination.
In combination with that, “know” meant to know by experience. Not second-hand knowledge, but knowledge gained by being with us.
That possibly (probably?) sounds scary to most of us. But as the excerpt above says, it doesn’t. Or shouldn’t. We’ll find out more about that as we go.
Ps 139:2 You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.
Knowing when we sit or get up can be accomplished merely by observation. But here, it has to be total, constant, ongoing observation.
But when we get to thoughts, mere observation isn’t going to work. It’s something much deeper. More personal. Hold on to that thought. We’ll look at the same word again in verse 17.
Ps 139:3 You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.
We have another verse where two of the stated things can be known by observation: going out and lying down.
But what about you are familiar with all my ways? Taking familiar with all my ways as a phrase, it means that God has intimate knowledge of our way of life, including our moral character.
Why God knowing our way of life and moral character doesn’t have to be scary
Another scary thought. And yet, it doesn’t have to be. Let’s see why not. Here are excerpts from two different commentaries that tie together something about the reality of this searching. It looks at David, King of Israel but also the one responsible for the death of Uriah so he could have Bathsheba, Uriah’s wife, for his own. Certainly not something to be proud of in God’s eyes – to put it extremely mildly.
I’m going to do something rare for me. Take just one verse out of context, because it’s really only that one verse we need for this particular topic. It’s from Acts. I do invite you to use the link to read the entire passage if you’d like.
“After this, God gave them judges until the time of Samuel the prophet. 21 Then the people asked for a king, and he gave them Saul son of Kish, of the tribe of Benjamin, who ruled forty years. 22 After removing Saul, he made David their king. He testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’
Remember what David did? Most of us haven’t committed murder. David did. But look what God said about him. A man after God’s own heart. For us, if we choose to, we have Jesus to atone for everything we’ve ever done wrong. Everything. And even from the little bit of this Psalm we’ve looked at so far, God does know everything. And still, Jesus’ will pay the price for our sins. If we accept Him.
So how much do we really need to be scared of what’s in this Psalm?
Ps 139:4 Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD.
And now we see that not only does God know what we’ve already done, He knows what we’re going to do! Even before the word is on our tongue, even before we can even speak, let alone act on our thoughts. God knows what we have done – what we are doing – and what we will do.
What does God think about us? Enough to protect us?
Ps 139:5 You hem me in—behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me.
OK, what does this mean? Is it bad, like it sounds? Or is this also good?
There are various ways to look at this – especially the hem me in part. Taking it one word at a time doesn’t really seem to do justice to the thought, so let’s look at another place where David uses the concept of being surrounded – hemmed in.
It’s Psalm 32. Since I’m using it to show a possible, and I believe likely, meaning behind You hem me in, the entire Psalm is here. Note especially verses 7 and 10 (underlined).
Of David. A maskil.
Ps 32:1 Blessed is he
whose transgressions are forgiven,
whose sins are covered.
Ps 32:2 Blessed is the man
whose sin the LORD does not count against him
and in whose spirit is no deceit.
Ps 32:3 When I kept silent,
my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
Ps 32:4 For day and night
your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was sapped
as in the heat of summer.
Ps 32:5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you
and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, “I will confess
my transgressions to the LORD”—
and you forgave
the guilt of my sin.
Ps 32:6 Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to you
while you may be found;
surely when the mighty waters rise,
they will not reach him.
Ps 32:7 You are my hiding place;
you will protect me from trouble
and surround me with songs of deliverance.
Ps 32:8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you and watch over you.
Ps 32:9 Do not be like the horse or the mule,
which have no understanding
but must be controlled by bit and bridle
or they will not come to you.
Ps 32:10 Many are the woes of the wicked,
but the LORD’S unfailing love
surrounds the man who trusts in him.
Ps 32:11 Rejoice in the LORD and be glad, you righteous;
sing, all you who are upright in heart!
In this light, the reality of being “hemmed in”, so to speak, by God is definitely a good thing. For the righteous, that is. And of course, for those who have truly accepted God’s offer of salvation through Jesus, this includes us – even though, on our own, we are really far from righteous.
Whether it be a hiding place, a place of protection, being hemmed in by God should be a good thing for a Christian.
Ps 139:6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
We also should begin to see why the characteristics of God that we’ve looked at so far are so important. If God didn’t know our hearts, as in the way He knew David’s heart in spite of some of his actions, we wouldn’t be able to claim the words of Psalm 32 as our own. Truth is, we should want to do exactly that, so we should also want God to have the knowledge of us to show our hearts to Him.
That kind of knowledge is too wonderful to someone who understands it. To the one who doesn’t, who looks at God as the “big brother”, “eye in the sky”, find every mistake kind of god, that’s not wonderful at all.
But the problem for the latter isn’t God. The problem is the lack of understanding on our part of who God is.
What does God know about us, since He’s everywhere?
Ps 139:7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
Ps 139:8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
Ps 139:9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
Ps 139:10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
This entire series of verses is about what we call the omnipresence of God. God is everywhere. There’s no place we can go where He isn’t. Furthermore, for Christians, the Holy Spirit of God resides in us.
Think about that for a moment. Even if there could be a place in this life where God isn’t, and if we could go to that place, as a Christian we are taking God to that place with us. Of course, that’s not possible. But it shows the reality of God is everywhere.
Ps 139:11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
Ps 139:12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
This is another way to express the thoughts from the previous set of verses. Let’s take a look at something Jesus said that put’s this into context for us. It’s a passage where Jesus explains that He and the Father are one. In it, Jesus tells the people that He is the light of the world, and therefore His followers cannot be in darkness.
Jn 8:12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
Jn 8:13 The Pharisees challenged him, “Here you are, appearing as your own witness; your testimony is not valid.”
Jn 8:14 Jesus answered, “Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid, for I know where I came from and where I am going. But you have no idea where I come from or where I am going. 15 You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one. 16 But if I do judge, my decisions are right, because I am not alone. I stand with the Father, who sent me. 17 In your own Law it is written that the testimony of two men is valid. 18 I am one who testifies for myself; my other witness is the Father, who sent me.”
Jn 8:19 Then they asked him, “Where is your father?”
“You do not know me or my Father,” Jesus replied. “If you knew me, you would know my Father also.” 20 He spoke these words while teaching in the temple area near the place where the offerings were put. Yet no one seized him, because his time had not yet come.
So that’s the New Testament/Covenant way to understand what David wrote.
God created us, so He knows about us.
Ps 139:13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Ps 139:14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
Ps 139:15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
Ps 139:16 your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
Another series of verses, this time with David recognizing God knew everything about him, even before he was ever born.
I should point out here, there’s a difference between knowing ahead of time what we’re going to do and making us do those things.
If we believe that God basically wrote the script for our lives, and then made us live out what He wrote, then we’re no different than puppets or actors on a stage. But that view makes no sense, because God’s desire is for us to choose to love Him. There’s no love when it’s written into our story by the author/creator of us. Nor is there love if the puppeteer/creator forces it on us.
The only way, in the overall picture of the Bible, that makes sense is that God somehow knows what we are going to choose to do, before we ever came into existence.
The difference is huge, so I really hope that makes some sense. I also have a series on Predestiny versus Free Will if you’d like to learn more about it.
Ps 139:17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
Ps 139:18 Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand.
When I awake,
I am still with you.
Once again, something about God’s thoughts. About what God knows. Including what God knows about us. Notice, we don’t have to understand the gory details of how God knows all these things in order to appreciate, at least a bit, what that knowledge means to us and does for us.
Some thoughts from David
Ps 139:19 If only you would slay the wicked, O God!
Away from me, you bloodthirsty men!
Ps 139:20 They speak of you with evil intent;
your adversaries misuse your name.
Ps 139:21 Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD,
and abhor those who rise up against you?
Ps 139:22 I have nothing but hatred for them;
I count them my enemies.
Now we get some of David’s thoughts about other people. You maybe noticed that the word hatred comes up. More than once. And yet, aren’t we, Christians, supposed to love everyone? Even our enemies?
Could this be a sin on David’s part? Or ours? And for us, who knows how many other sins each of us could add to the list, even if it was only the things we wish God would do. Add the things we’d like to do and, wow, it’s gonna be a long one.
And so, we get to the conclusion of this Psalm.
If we want to know what God thinks of us – Pray!
Ps 139:23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
Ps 139:24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
God already knows all this stuff about us. The good, the bad, and the ugly. If He knows, shouldn’t we want to know also? That way we can do a better job of something Jesus told us to do:
Mt 7:13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”
Conclusion – Do We Want To Know What God Thinks Of Us?
I’ve written about Psalm 139 many times. Usually it’s about using the first verse and the last two verses as a prayer. It’s something we, as Christians, should do on a regular basis. Not because it’s required. It’s not. Rather we should do it because we want to do it. We should want to know what God thinks of us!
Remember Psalm 32?
In Ps 32:7, David spoke of God as His hiding place. But what if we never asked God what He thinks of us? We might now even know we need a hiding place. And if we did, how do we know where it is?
And in Ps 32:10, David writes about God’s unfailing love surrounding the one who trusts Him. But if we don’t know what God thinks of us, we might think God’s out to get us, rather than that God’s trying to protect us!
So I believe we need to know Psalm 139. Really know it. And we’ve got to live it. Pray it. And know that God loves us. That God loves us so much that He wants us to know what He thinks of us, so we can be even closer to Him.
- 1Comfort, R. (2003). The Evidence Bible: Irrefutable Evidence for the Thinking Mind, Notes. (K. Cameron, Ed.) (p. 803). Orlando, FL: Bridge-Logos.
- 2Ellsworth, R. (2006). Opening up Psalms (p. 125). Leominster: Day One Publications.