Sunday, March 31, 2019

Sermon: Psalm 139 Search me and know me

Today is Mothering Sunday, the day when we especially remember, and thank, and honour our mothers, and those who have been a mother to us. For most people, your mum was or is the person who knows you best of all. So with me, growing up, mum always seemed to know where I was, what I was up to, and everything about me. If I’d got into trouble, or done something I shouldn’t have, mum knew about it, and was waiting when I got home.

Now whether your mum was like that or not; whether you’ve had a good relationship with your mum or not; there is someone who knows you even better than that. That’s what we see in our Bible reading today, from Psalm 139. King David writes this Psalm, and it’s all about how God knows us, and loves us, and cares for us.

In verses 1-6, we see how God knows us. These days, every time you leave the house, you are being watched. And I don’t just mean by your neighbours. Just think of the number of CCTV cameras, police cameras, even dash-cams in lorries and cars - all keeping watch on what you’re up to. And that’s before you think of your Tesco clubcard and other loyalty cards - which monitor what you buy, in exchange for some discounts. OR the way Facebook or Amazon recommends adverts that you might be interested in. George Orwell talked about how ‘Big Brother is watching you’ in his novel 1984. But even more than all those various means, God knows you.

In almost every verse, we find the word ‘know’ or a similar word: ‘O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD.’

Every time you stand up or sit down (and in church it can be quite a few times), God knows about it. Every thought that you think, God knows about it. Every time that you go out the door, every time that you lie down, God knows about it. Even before you speak, before you say anything, God already knows it. I could get you to guess what I was going to say next... no one might guess that I was going to say that african elephants have bigger ears than Indian elephants - but God knew that was going to come out of my mouth.

The question is, how does all that knowledge make you feel? Knowing that God knows everything about you - how do you respond to that? Are you happy that he knows? Or fearful? Or angry? Here’s what David says in verses 5-6:

‘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.’

David’s response is amazement. He’s amazed that God has laid his hand on him, has chosen him, and knows all about him - he’s amazed that the great and awesome God of the whole universe knows all about little David - he’s amazed that God knows everything. It’s too much to really take it all in.

But God doesn’t just know everything about us, he is also always with us. That’s what he says in verses 7-12: ‘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.’ (7-10)

You might be thinking about summer holidays, or holidays at Easter. And whether you’re planning to go to the other side of the world, or the other side of Richhill, the truth is, that no matter where you go, God is with us. So on Friday, my friend S has gone to NZ for a month. He might have just arrived, and even there, God is with him. You see, there’s nowhere that we can go that God is not already there. That’s true in New Zealand, or Norway, or Newry. It’s true in Paraguay and Portugal and Portadown.

It’s also true in the darkness. With the clocks springing forward today, this evening we’ll all be remarking about the great stretch in the evenings. But when darkness comes, we can’t see so well. Maybe in the darkness we’re hidden? But even the night is like day to the Lord. ‘even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.’

So God knows everything about us, and God is always with us. But there’s even more, because God has also made us. Here’s what David says: ‘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. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. 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. 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.’ (13-18).

That tells us that God made us. Whether you’re tall or small; whatever your hair colour (or if you have hair); whatever your skills and talents and abilities; God made you to be you. He created us; he knit us together in our mothers’ womb. These days the scans can show the baby growing inside the mum’s tummy, can see in detail, but when David was writing this Psalm the first time the baby was seen was when it was born. But God sees, God knows, because God is at work, forming, making, knitting together. God knows all our days before even one of them came to be.

Isn’t that amazing? God knows us, God is with us, and God made us. It’s all amazing, and wonderful, and uplifting. And then the Psalm seems to take a weird turn. It’s almost as if it’s been tacked on at the end, out of place, like a copy and pasting error. Suddenly, David turns to talk about the wicked, and bloodthirsty men. So what is going on here? Well, let’s hear what he says:

‘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. 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.’ (19-24).

David is concerned about the people who don’t follow God’s ways. God knows them too, because wherever they are, God is there, and God made them. But they have turned their back on God, they don’t want to know God, they don’t want to be with God.

And actually, this is all of us. You see, even though God made us, and knows us, and is with us, we have all turned away from God. If we have sometimes told our mums ‘leave me alone!’ we have definitely said that to God. We don’t want him! But that’s why Jesus came into the world. He lived the perfect life that we haven’t lived; he always and fully loved God and loved his neighbour - and fully honoured and obeyed his parents; and he died on the cross, the death that David says the wicked deserve.

On the cross, Jesus takes our burden of sin, our record of wrongs. Imagine if we had cameras following you all last week, every word you said, everywhere you went, everything you did, every thought you thought. Would you be happy for us to all watch that footage on the big screen? Or if we had a complete record of everything you’ve ever said, thought, and done?

Jesus died to take away all the wrong things we have done. He died to give us his perfect record, his perfect right standing with God; to give us his life - as a free gift of grace. All we have to do is receive it, by believing that Jesus died for us - by trusting him.

That’s what David is asking in those closing verses. He’s asking God, who already knows him, to search him; to forgive his sins, and to lead him in the way everlasting. Today, it’s our prayer that Noah will grow up to know Jesus as his Saviour, and to follow in the path of Jesus, wherever he may lead him. Jesus already knows Noah - our prayer is that Noah will know Jesus.

But it’s not just what we’re praying for Noah. We’re praying it for you as well - that just as God knows you, and is with you, and made you, that you would know God as well. Why not come to him today?

This sermon was preached in St Matthew's Church, Richhill on Mothering Sunday morning 31st March 2019.


  1. image manipulation service is one of the best Clipping path service provider around the world. We offer our global customers: image masking, clipping path, background removal service, shadow creation Service, Jewelry Photo, Retouching Services, Color Correction Service, Image e-commerce business Service...

  2. Waw! Excellent post. Thanks for sharing your post. I think, its informative and effective post.