God’s characteristics are rooted in history. In Psalm 139 David reveals to us three attributes about God that he has witnessed or God has revealed in history. These three are that God is all-knowing (omniscient), all-present (omnipresent), and eternal. God’s character is never abstract but concrete and connected to our lives. We can trust Him.
God’s all-knowing is connected to his desire to know us. This kind of knowing isn’t abstract knowledge but a form of intimate lived knowledge, relational knowledge. Do you believe that God wants to know you and be in a relationship with you? In the Psalm it says that not only knows us in the present but wants to know us now; not at a distance but intimately. We can trust God and attach ourselves to Him.
David also says there is nowhere he could go where God would not be there. Jonah found this out that hard way when he tried to flee to Tarshish. God is not only all-present (omnipresent) physically but emotionally and spiritually as well. There is nowhere we can go emotionally or spiritually where God could not or would not go too. Even when we feel like darkness is covering us and our minds – whether in depression, fear, or anxiety, God can meet us there.
Finally God is eternal. David intentionally connects the Psalm to the opening pages of Genesis. The God who longs to know Him was present at the creation of the world. God is all-knowing because He was present everywhere throughout eternity. God’s knowledge is grounded in his experience. In the bible this is called wisdom, lived knowledge. We can trust God because of his lived experience of the universe, its connections, and meaning.
God’s divine character is never abstract but is “let loose in life.” So David asks God to search him and know – to know the fullness of him in his thoughts and his sins – because David wants to be led by God. Unlike the Wizard of Oz or the gods of ancient Rome and Greece the God of David, and the God of the universe doesn’t use his knowledge and power for his own benefit but for the benefit of others. David desires to be led by God because he trusts Him. This is seen most clearly in the person of Jesus who while being God bent down to serve us, giving his life on a cross. This is a God that we can trust.
Great is the Lord (Psalm 96)
Words & Music by Carson Li @KEC Worship
Great Are You Lord
Words & Music by David Leonard, Jason Ingram & Leslie Jordan
Words & Music by Aodhan King | Ben Fielding