My Soul Knows it Very Well: Psalm 139 [Part 2: Neither Space Nor Time]

This post is part of a two week mini-series I am calling "My Soul Knows it Very Well: Psalm 139"; the heart of this mini-series is to seek God's word about who he is, who he says I am, with the goal of having his word come alive in my heart, growing feet that walk out redemption in Christ as the Biblical truth I discover becomes riveted to my soul.

I didn't get too far into Psalm 139 before my mind and heart were captured.

...you discern my thoughts from afar {verse 2b}

This line has gone unnoticed by me in the many times I have blown through the Psalm. It stood out this time through because I thought, "Yes- even though God is so far away he can see what my thoughts are." As I started to move onto verse 3 the Holy Spirit nudged me- "Tami, is this truth? Is your Father far off, distant from you?". No, he is not; this is confirmed in verses 7-10:

7 Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
9 If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me.

Likewise, Jesus promised that he is always with us. This is the beauty of God's omnipresence- he is both in the heavenly realms and here, on earth, everywhere at all times. This blows my mind, but I know it to be truth.

What, then, could it mean that God discerns (knows, understands) my thoughts from afar? My initial thought was that "afar" refers not necessarily to distance (space), but to God knowing my thoughts before I even think them (time). Some research into commentaries included in our amazing & beloved Logos Bible study software confirmed this, but took it even further. God doesn't just know my thoughts before they've transpired, he knows the thoughts I have forgotten, and the ones that slip through my mind so quickly that I continue on unaware of them ever occurring.

In his Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible : Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (originally penned in 1706, so forgive the archaic language and spelling), Matthew Henry wrote:

Though my thoughts be ever so foreign and distant from one another, thou understandest the chain of them, and canst make out their connexion, when so many of them slip my notice that I myself cannot.

Man, oh, man, how I love that! This is intensely personal to me because Christ has appointed this to be the time that I lean on him to sort through my past, to more fully understand my story in the scope of his story of redemption that encompasses all of eternity. Part of this is the painful realization that, with regards to events from abuse in my childhood and adolescent years, I can only view a few scenes in my mind like a YouTube clip of a movie. I can't remember how I felt, what I was thinking, and, worst of all, how I responded afterward. I feel completely disconnected from the girl in those movies, though she is me and it isn't a movie- it's my life.

Image courtesy of Vivian Dang via Flickr

Psalm 139:2 is a comfort to me, living truth I can stand on- despite me not remembering certain thoughts and feelings, nor even some events themselves (my "sit[ting] down[s]" and "ris[ing] up[s]"), my Father knows every one of them. Instead of feeling frustrated because I can't remember, or fearing what I might have to endure if God allows me to remember, I can trust that my Lord is a good God. He knows every moment, every thought. He is not far away, nor was he ever; rather, he is right here with me, as he always has been. When and if he chooses to exercise his limitless ability that transcends time and space and allows me to remember and feel that which I've forgotten I can rest, knowing that he doesn't just know me intimately, but he loves me completely and will still be there and be just as good.

There's so much more that I'm gleaning from Psalm 139, but this is a good cut off point. My goal is to write, on average, every other day, so be sure to tune in Thursday for more!

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