Sunday, December 29, 2013

[Matt's Messages] "Search Me"

“Search Me”
December 29, 2013
Psalm 139

We will return, Lord-willing, to David the fugitive in 1 Samuel next Sunday, but this week, I wanted to build a bridge from 2013 to 2014 with the prayer of David in Psalm 139.

Starting next week, we’re going to memorize, as our “Hide the Word” passage verses 23 and 24 of Psalm 139. An awesome prayer to make your own:

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

Isn’t that a great prayer?

So, the sermon title for today is “Search Me.”

And that’s not a snide remark like, “I don’t know! Search me!”

It’s a prayer for God to look into your heart and see what is truly there.

It’s an invitation for God to know you as you really are and to move you to become who you were made to be.

“Search Me.”

I chose Psalm 139 for today mainly because we’re looking at a new year, just around the corner, a year of uncertainty. Who knows what 2014 will bring?

I’m certain that 2014 will have blessing in it for God’s people.

But I’m also sure that 2014 will have trouble in it for God’s people. Trials and difficulties, some of them bewildering, I’m sure.

And I wanted to preach a message of comfort but also one of challenge and conviction as we look at the new year.

Because the bigger question is not what is going to happen to me in 2014, but what kind of a person am I going to be before God in 2014?

Will I be faithful?
Will I be trusting?
Will I be obedient?
Will I be loyal?

What kind of a person am I going to be before God in 2014? That’s the question.

“Search me.”

Psalm 139, verse 1, the superscription.

“For the director of music. Of David. A psalm.”

We don’t know much more about the context of this prayer–many scholars believe that David has been accused by someone else of being unfaithful to the Lord, and he is seeking vindication here. Not sure if that’s true.

Not sure at all what the historical setting was for this Psalm. Sometimes, it’s better not to know because the application feels even more immediate.

Regardless of the setting, it’s a psalm of David meant to be sung by others like us and applied to our lives today.

David ends the Psalm by asking God to search him, but he begins the psalm by stating that he knows the LORD already has searched him. V.1

“O LORD, you have searched me and you know me.”

Point #1 of 4 this morning.


David can end up asking God to search him, because he already knows that the LORD has already done so.

You know me.

“O LORD, you have searched me and you know me.”

That word for “search” means to examine.

In our computerized world, we use the word “search” all the time these days.

Often, we set a computer going to find some piece of information that we lack.

Searching, searching, searching.

We google things nowadays. Right? The ubiquitous “search bar.”

But this is not an impersonal search for a trivial piece of information.

This is being known. This is being examined. This is a Person taking a close look at another person.

It’s more like a trip to the doctor than putting a word in a Google search bar.

“God, You have checked me out.  You know me.” ...

David is amazed at how well God knows him. V.2

“You know when I sit and when I rise;”

Up or down. You know it.

And not just what position, I’m in. What I’m thinking!

“ perceive my thoughts from afar.”

God is a mind-reader. V.3

“You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.”

Whether I get up and head out to work in the morning or come home and go to bed, you know all of my doings. My patterns. My ways.

And this is not just impersonal information. It’s not just that God has a database of factoids about me. He knows me. He is familiar with my ways.

Many of you have pets. Do you know the ways of your pet?

If you come home and that pet is nowhere to be seen, do you have a good idea where they could be found?

You know the ways of that pet. Their comings and goings and habits.

It’s not just that you could look it up in an Encyclopedia. “This is what cats generally do.” You know this pet and how he or she acts. You are familiar with their ways.

How much more is God familiar with our ways?

He knows us better than we know ourselves. V.4

“Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD.”

Sometimes my wife knows what I’m going to say before I do. I thought I just came up with that sentence, but she was way ahead of me.

Not necessarily because we think alike, but because she knows me.

How much more does God know us.

Do you see how personal this is?

David is saying, “You know me.” Completely. And not just as a bunch of facts but personally, intimately, deeply, truly, relationally.

You know me. V.5

“You hem me in–behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.”

I just can’t grasp how much you know me, God!

David is filled with wonder that he is known in this way.

Does that same truth fill us with wonder today?

Most people desperately want to be known.

I think that’s one of the major reasons for much of what we see, for example, on social media like Facebook.

“Know me! I’m putting myself out here. Know me!”

You are known! By the One that matters the most.

“O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. ... Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.”


That’s what David saying in v.5 with “You hem me in–behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me.”

You’ve got me. I’m trapped!

There is no escape from behind–not back door.
There is no escape from before–you’ve arrested me. You’ve laid your hand on me.

It’s not clear whether or not David wants to escape from God.

Perhaps, that feeling of being known also gives him a touch of the willies and fosters an urge to escape.

Or maybe he’s just saying that even if he wanted to get away, he knows that he can’t.

Either way, there is no hiding from the Lord. V.7

“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.”

There is no getting away from God. He is everywhere.

If verses 1-6 were about God’s omniscience, verses 7- 12 are about God’s omnipresence.

But it’s not just that God is there and standing around like some absent minded professor.

“Oh yes, he’s here, but he’s not all here.”

No, this is saying that God is present. He is relationally with David wherever David would run to.

The sky? Check.
The ocean floor? Check.
Flying at the speed of light? He’s there.
On the other side of the world. He’s there, too.

You can’t get away from God.

You can run, but you can’t hide.

Not even the darkest place. V.11

“If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,’ even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.”

For the God who is light, there is no place that is dark.

What’s the upshot of that?

Well, at first, it might not seem like good news.

Who wants inescapable supervision?

Somebody watching you all of the time?

But David knows that it is good news. V.10 again.

Wherever I am, “...even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.”

I’ll tell you wants inescapable supervision: sheep do.

Sheep need a shepherd.

We are needy people, and we need a good shepherd to keep a guiding hand on us all of the time.

It’s so good to be able to say, “You’ve got me.”

“Lord, you’ve got me. I know that I can’t get away from you, and that’s  such a good thing!  I’m yours.”

Because #3. YOU MADE ME. V.13

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

This is how deep this relationship goes: David knows that he is the Lord’s creation.

God is not just omniscient and omnipresent. He is the Creator. The maker.

God didn’t just come to know David over time.

He has known David all along.

Because He made him!

This is the verse that we quote every year around Sanctity of Human Life Sunday.

And that’s right. It’s all about that. All about how God is intimately involved in making us. He designed us.

He designed each of us personally, and that bestows a heaping measure of dignity to every human life.

But David is saying something even more profound. He’s saying that in making us, God knows us and has every right over us. V.15

“My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place [the womb]. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

I think that David uses the image of “the depths of the earth” to describe the most hidden place that he can think of.

The womb was, for David, the most hidden place on earth.

But God saw into the womb.

God was there, and God was directing that new life.

“All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with you.”

David just lives in amazement.

He can’t believe how fearfully and wonderfully he is made and he can’t hardly believe how sovereign God is over his life, and he can’t believe how deep and long and wide are the thoughts of God.

Thoughts that make and create. Thoughts that are so awesome they cannot be numbered.

Now, scholars are divided over what that last sentence means.

“When I awake, I am still with you.”

Does that mean that David has been exhausted by these innumerable thoughts and then wakes up at that point?

Or does it go back to the first section and mean that even in the mornings when David gets up, there is God?

Some scholars even think it means awakening from resurrection. Even when we come back from the sleep of death.

Any way about it, the point is “I am still with you.”

There He is! There He is.  God is present.

And I am with Him.

Now, how “with Him” am I?

How with God am I?  He’s all here, but am I all his?

I think that’s the point of the next four verses.

For many of us, these four verses feel like an intrusion. Like they don’t fit.

But they flowed very naturally for King David. V.19

“If only you would slay the wicked, O God! Away from me, you bloodthirsty men! They speak of you with evil intent; your adversaries misuse your name. Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD, and abhor those who rise up against you? I have nothing but hatred for them; I count them my enemies.”

Now, we tend to stumble over these verses because they seem so far from our Lord Jesus’ command to love our enemies.

And there is something new about our Lord’s command that at least modifies what is going on here in these verses.

But the emphasis here is not on personal hatred of those who are our enemies.

The emphasis is on loyalty to God over against those who are His enemies.

David is saying that he does not side with those who side against God.

“Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD, and abhor those who rise up against you?”

Another way of saying it would be to say, “I am not on Satan’s side. Not one bit.”

I’m on God’s side!

I don’t identify with the enemies of God. I hate them.

Do you see how that works?

It’s not saying that we shouldn’t love our enemies. God loves His enemies!

But there is a way to love our enemies and a way to hate them.

If the choice is between loving them and their ways or loving God and His, then we side with God every time.

David is saying:


How’s that for a declaration for 2014? I’m going to be on the Lord’s side.

“You can count on me, Lord.

You know which side of the field to find me on.”

I know that you know me.
I know that you’ve got me.
I know that you made.

And so, I’m yours.

So, go ahead–search me.  V.23

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

Go ahead, Lord.

I know that you already know what you’ll find.

Search me. Know my heart.

Test me. Examine me.

Listen to my thoughts.

Some of them, I admit, are anxious. Not just anxiety in general, but I’m anxious about you. God, sometimes you worry me.

Sometimes, I feel like I want to escape, to hide, to get out of your gaze.

But I know there is nowhere to go.

And when I think about it the right way, I know that there is no place I’d rather be than with You.

And my anxieties about life?  You can know those, too.  I cast my cares on You because You care for me.

Go ahead! Search me.

You can see for Yourself that I love you and am loyal to you.

I am on your side. You can count on me.

“See if there is any offensive way in me...” and if there is, I turn away from it right now.

Point it out to me.  And change me.

“Lead me in the way everlasting.”

“Take me on the new path, the path of eternal life.

The path of righteousness.

Search me.

I invite you to search me.

I invite you to know me as I really am and to make me who you want me to be.”

Search me.