Sunday 12th September 2021​

God KNOWS 

 

Psalm 139: 1-12

 

Just b4 I went on leave,

…. I videoed a short ‘thought for the day’ 5 minute reflection,

 

For the CHURCH ACROSS PEMBROKESHIRE facebook page -

 

Based on ps 139.

 

Going on leave for a couple of weeks I ‘SHUT DOWN’ mentally,

As it were -

 

But as I sat down again last Monday,

….. to prepare for a funeral and today's service -

 

This MUCH LOVED OLD PSALM,

…. instantly came into my thoughts again (must have stayed in my subconscious)

 

(I suppose there was a sense of ‘unfinished business’ as I wanted to spend more than 5 minutes scratching the service)

 

I’m going to look at ps 139 this morning,

...NOT the whole of it (i’d never do it justice)

…….but the 1st part (or 1st 2 parts to be exact)

 

And make 2 points -

 

  1. God KNOWS you 1-6

  2. God PURSUES you 7-12

 

(read verses 1-6)

 

First thing that hits me,

….whenever I read this AFFIRMING/INTIMATE Psalm,

…..= is how very PERSONAL it is

 

We know that God has a number of names - 

….see them at dif points throughout scripture,

 

= but the MOST PERSONAL of all is YAHWEH

………….And this psalm addresses him by his ‘personal name’

 

The psalmist isn’t some WRITER OF RELIGIOUS WORKS,

….SCRIBBLING AWAY IN HIS IVORY TOWER

 

But - I mentally view him as a man who - METAPHORICALLY SPEAKING,

.....is looking into the eyes of his Lord and addressing him directly

 

He make a number of statements that include the word >YOU

 

A powerful word - PERSONAL word,

….that again reminds us that that he’s not TALKING ABOUT A GOD CONCEPT

………………………………………………...BUT TALKING TO A PERSONAL GOD

 

After all - you don’t refer to a concept as you

 

  • YOU have searched me

  • YOU discern my thoughts

  • YOU know when I sit down and rise up

  • YOU search out my path

  • YOU know my words

  • YOU hem me in

  • YOU lay your hand upon me

 

This isn't the 1st time i've preached on this psalm -

 

And I DISCOVERED THEN,

….that as you background read commentaries/books around psalm 139,

……...you bump repeatedly into the thoughts and musings,

………………………………….. of a chap called MARTIN BUBER

 

a JEWISH PHILOSOPHER from the early 20th century,

……………...who was particularly STRUCK by this psalm

 

The most IMPORTANT ASPECT of this psalm,

….is how it POWERFULLY EXPLORES the relationship between God and Humankind

 

Not an INTELLECTUAL, ACADEMIC or IMPERSONAL exploration,

…. = but a RELATIONAL one

 

In one of his musings on psalm 139,

….he wrote this piece:

Where I wander - You!
Where I ponder - You!
Only You, You again, always You!
You! You! You!
When I am gladdened - You!
When I am saddened - You!
Only You, You again, always You!
You! You! You!
Sky is You, Earth is You!
You above! You below!
In every trend, at every end,
Only You, You again, always You!
You! You! You!

 

Like MARTIN BUBER,

...I was struck by all of the psalms powerful YOU statements -

….and I rank this as one of my favourite psalms

 

Without meaning to sound TOO sentimental,

...I always feel a bit SPECIAL when I read it

 

Not in a BIG-HEADED kind of a way,

….but in a COMFORTING, 

……”Dad loves me despite how small and silly I often am” kind of way.

 

I sometimes struggle with my SELF-ESTEEM,

...but this Psalm is like a LOVING ARM AROUND MY SHOULDERS,

…………..when I need it most

 

I DELIBERATELY missed out one of the psalmists ‘YOU STATEMENTS’,

…..when I listed them a few minutes ago.

 

*the most important one of all

…… = “YOU know me”

 

Not the IQ type of knowing -

Like KNOWING you times tables, KNOWING your mathematical formulae,

…..KNOWING enough to pass exams

 

The root word in hebrew, translated into ENGLISH as KNOW -

….is yada

 

As with so many HEBREW words,

...the word has a far greater scale of potential meaning -

 

At its least it refers to simple understanding -

….BUT IN ITS FULLEST,

……..it refers to the most intimately powerful connection,

……………………………. a human can have with another being

 

You first come across this word YADA (know) in GENESIS

...this is where we are told that ADAM knew EVE

 

Oooh - getting a bit embarrassing, sorry!

 

But marriage (and all that CONSUMMATION business that is part of it)

….is the most powerful example we humans have,

………………. of a REALLY CLOSE RELATIONSHIP

 

A complete and holistic BONDING -

...physically, spiritually, emotionally…...

 

And GOD deliberately uses this MOST POWERFUL OF EXAMPLES,

….to describe the DEPTH of closeness he wants with us

 

The Psalmist breathes - you KNOW me -

“You have searched and known me……..”

 

I get the sense that he says this with AWE

 

Perhaps I’m reading too much into it -

...but as I read it,

…..I get the sense that he’s SURRENDERING to his God - his YAHWEH

 

= as he makes this statement

 

Making himself VULNERABLE,

….and yet DRAWING CLOSER to God as a result

 

**Here’s a challenge:

….. = Try reading the beginning of this psalm in private sometime

 

  • Try reading it in the 1st person ( make them YOUR words)

  • = see how it makes you FEEL

 

  • Try reading those YOU statements not as a mere DECLARATION,

            … but as an INVITATION

(please KNOW me

...I lay bare my heart and soul right now -  to YOU ALONE Yahweh)

 

Pretty heavy stuff

 

All this making yourself vulnerable to the God who wants to completely KNOW you…

 

If it makes you uncomfortable,

….try not to get too hung up on the old MARRIAGE and CONSUMMATION metaphor

 

A metaphor is an attempt to find something from our experience,

….to explain something beyond our normal human experience

 

Which is =

A loving God who wants to relate to you more intimately,

...than you could ever imagine or experience with another human being

 

It’s pretty mind blowing stuff -

….the PSALMIST certainly thinks so -

 

He concludes with an awed gasp -

“It is too wonderful for me - it is high - I cannot attain it”

 

It seems impossible -

...but he has learnt that the impossible is possible for God

 

SO - God knows you - -------   AGAIN I ASK,

….HOW DOES THAT MAKE YOU FEEL?

………………………………………..RESPOND?

 

If KNOWING is symbolic of a loving relationship -

….something that we have accepted and promised to requite as best we can,

……...with GOD

 

= then how are we doing? - REQUITING?

 

Q have we been faithful?

Q has he consistently been our 1st love?

Q have we ever turned our back on him or hurt him in some way?

 

As PAUL SAID many years after this psalm was written -

..we have all sinned,

….all turned away

 

I remember saying years ago,

…… = that I would never stay with a girlfriend/wife who was unfaithful to me,

 

I really couldn’t conceive,

...of living with the daily reminder a that humiliation and pain

 

PAUSE (look up)

= but GOD DOES

 

….every day he chooses to live and bear with me

……….to REMAIN CLOSE

 

(read Psalm 139: 7-12)

 

The PSALMIST ASKS-

“Where can I flee from your presence?”

...ANSWER = nowhere.

 

Even If I go down into SHEOL (the abode of the dead)

 

My/our -  equivalent to SHEOL,

...are the kinds of choices and attitudes that have led us into spiritual darkness,

…...and emotional pain

 

= and behold - HE IS THERE WITH US TOO

 

I have wandered into darkness on a number of occasions in my life -

...which of us haven’t?

 

Be it the darkness of a situation,

….or the darkness of a negative feeling or attitude such as hate

 

But on those occasions GOD hasn’t just left us to lie in the bed we made -

….storming off like a jilted lover

 

The PSALMIST writes -

“Even though the night shall be about me,

...indeed, the darkness shall not hide from you,

…….but the night shines as the day”.

 

In the NT letters of JOHN,

….we are urged to WALK IN THE LIGHT

 

Good advice!

 

But my experience - as with so many other grace-blessed people,

….is the sight of GOD climbing down into some shadowy ditch that I have fallen into,

…….BRIGHT TORCH in hand,

……….and leading me back to the place of light

 

SO - God KNOWS you

………...and God PURSUES you

 

For the last time I ask:

  • How does that make you feel?

  • How will you respond?

 

amen