O LORD, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O LORD, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it.
(Psalm 139:1-6 ESV)
The beginning of Psalm 139 is as mind-blowing as it is humbling. God is Omniscient - He knows EVERYTHING about me.
- my actions
- my habits
- my thoughts
- my days
- my plans
- my words
- my rest
He hems me in, behind and before, and lays His hand on me. This knowledge is too wonderful for me. To know that God knows everything about me is humbling, to say the least. Nobody else really knows me. Nobody else really knows you, either.
Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
(Psalm 139:7 ESV)
God is Omnipresent - He is everywhere. There is no place that I can hide from God. There is no place you can hide from God, either.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
(Psalm 139:14 ESV)
How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
(Psalm 139:17 ESV)
God is Omnipotent - He created everything. He intricately formed each of us in our mother's womb; He made the stars and the sand and the snail and the slug. His thoughts are unfathomable. I can't begin to understand Him. You can't begin to understand Him, either.
David acknowledges how wonderful God is, and how precious God's thoughts are to him. As he contemplates God's omniscience, His omnipresence, and His omnipotence, he looks around and sees those who do not care. They are wicked men of blood, who speak against God with malicious intent, and take his name in vain. David hates them. He loathes them. He wants God to slay them.
Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God! O men of blood, depart from me! They speak against you with malicious intent; your enemies take your name in vain! Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD? And do I not loathe those who rise up against you? I hate them with complete hatred; I count them my enemies.(Psalm 139:19-22 ESV)
Don't we all do that? We look around us and see injustice and horror and hatred and pain. And we get angry.
There is much to be sad about in this world. We read of a widow bereaved of her husband and left with two small children to care for, and we grieve for her, and pray for her, and wonder why. We see pictures of devastation and loss in tornadoes, hurricanes, and tsunamis, and we are saddened, and we pray, and long for a better day.
But these things, sad though they are, are not what really gets us riled.
It's stories like these that make us angry:
- Horrific tales of cruelty in Kosovo
- Torture in Rwanda (young girls given the choice of which hand they want to lose first)
- Tales of persecution in Romanian prison camps
- Anecdotes about rude, rebellious teens and their bad behaviour in public places
- Fraud that decimates people's life savings
The list goes on. We cry out to God, Oh, that you would slay the wicked. We solve the world's problems, sitting on the deck with a glass of wine and plenty of opinions. We think we know the answers, and we think we have the solutions. We cheer when the Bin Ladens of the world are taken out, or when the Bernie Madoffs are sent to jail.
We know nothing.
David had an inkling after he cried out to God to slay the wicked.
Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!
(Psalm 139:23-24 ESV)
He'd just finished crying out to God to slay the wicked. He thought he hated what God hated. He thought he understood.
Then he realized, he knew nothing.
Should a wise man answer with windy knowledge, and fill his belly with the east wind? (Job 15:2 ESV)
Who are we to decide the fate of another? It is God's decision.
Who are we to think we're better than another? We are just as deserving of hell.
God is the One Who is Omnipotent, Omniscient and Omnipresent. We are not. God may intend to spare those wicked men we rail against. We have no idea.
If you go back up and click on the link to the video of people who survived the Romanian prison camps, you'll be humbled. You'll realize that men and women who were tortured and raped and humiliated can find the grace to say, "I'd rather be the tortured than the torturer."
I'd rather walk with God than pursue Christians.
I'd rather have a stable family life than be in a gutter with track marks on my arm.
I'd rather suffer financial woes than be dancing on a world-wide stage, half naked, and not knowing it.
There but for the grace of God.
Therefore, we need to keep our mouths shut, and stop the windy words. We need to walk humbly and thankfully with God, marvelling every day that He is a God of Compassion and Mercy who treads our iniquities underfoot.
He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the LORD require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?
(Micah 6:8 ESV)
God's Steadfast Love and Compassion
Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity
and passing over transgression
for the remnant of his inheritance?
He does not retain his anger forever,
because he delights in steadfast love.
He will again have compassion on us;
he will tread our iniquities underfoot.
You will cast all our sins
into the depths of the sea.
(Micah 7:18-19 ESV)