Recently I had the opportunity to spend time with my 14-month-old grandson. He is in the active/touching everything/put stuff in his mouth/try-to-climb-the-unclimbable stage of toddlerhood, so I purchased a large, sturdy play fence. We established one area as a kid-friendly zone, and put the 100 lb. Labrador Retriever on the other. It proved to be a good purchase, as we could sit in the kid zone and enjoy him playing without worrying for his safety. The dog wasn’t thrilled, but she got over it.
Today’s reading is the 139th Psalm. I have to tell you how excited I was that this is in this week’s lectionary, as it is one of my favorite psalms. It introduces the incredible notion that God knows us. Not just “knows” us as a people, or a nation, but really KNOWS us. Intimately. Personally. Closely. Familiarly.
Psalm 139 (New Revised Standard Version)
O Lord, you have searched me and known me.
2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from far away.
How can the creator of the universe know us in such detail? How can the One who told the moon when to set and the stars where to spin know our very thoughts from far away? Why would he bother?
3 You search out my path and my lying down,
and are acquainted with all my ways.
4 Even before a word is on my tongue,
O Lord, you know it completely.
It almost amuses me to think that God knows the word that is about to be on our tongues even before we say it. How it must dismay him when we actually say it! He knows us this well AND HE LOVES US ANYWAY.
5 You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
Like a child inside a play fence, we are safely hemmed in by the One who made us. He desires to protect us, to surround us with grace, and to heal us with his mercy. Again I ask, why?
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is so high that I cannot attain it.
The psalmist speaks of the awe we feel in knowing how perfectly God knows us. He loves us so much that he is present in our every waking and sleeping moment.
What does it mean to you to know that God searches you and knows you to the very depth of your soul? Does it bring you comfort to know that you can never be alone? Is it a balm in your loneliness? Does it help you to realize that there is no sin you could ever commit that is beyond the reach of his understanding and forgiveness? Does it strengthen you to realize that with such a God, who is so close within you, nothing from the outside can harm you or separate you from his love?
Such knowledge is too wonderful. Such knowledge is so high, we cannot attain it. But we’ll take it anyway.
Rejoice, and be glad.