And are intimately acquainted with all my ways. They used the word nepes to mean breath, the animating force that gives the creature life. The one who creates always has a special place in his/her heart for that which he/she has created––and so it is with Yahweh. The word yada has various meanings. The psalmist quickly recognizes the fault in his own logic, however, because “even the darkness will not be dark to [God]” (v. 12). Christ calls us to love even our enemies––not to hate them (Matthew 5:44). One of the most notable of the sacred hymns. This connects well with the rest of v. 15, where the “secret” place and “depths of the earth” likely refers to the depths his mother’s womb. When your world turns dark and your journey turns rugged, where do you turn for help? Add Psalms, Volume 2 to your library today and you will grasp the original meaning, exegetical context, and contemporary significance of these precious biblical poems, hymns, and prayers. Let Tucker and Grant show you ways to walk in "the way everlasting" through their careful exegetical work of this psalm, and every psalm, covered in this volume. Note that the Hebrew word translated search in this verse (zarah) is different from the word translated searched (haqar) in verse 1. The soaring language of praise and confession in the first three strophes abruptly ends in verse 18, only to be followed by more ominous and troubling language in the final strophe. The psalmist acknowledges that Yahweh created him, so Yahweh has a special place in his heart. Does he feel supported or hemmed in? The reciprocal is also true. 23-24). This verse states that Yahweh had foreknowledge of the psalmist’s life before he was born. As they explain: A merism is a poetic technique that expresses a totality by mentioning two parts, typically polar opposites … Poetically speaking, a merism provides vivid images that are meant to replace more abstract concepts such as “all,” “every,” or “always.” Given this intended usage, a merism is meant to be understood figuratively or metaphorically, but not literally. Nothing past, present or future is hidden from Him. 22 I hate them with perfect hatred. But the psalmist declares that, if he were to find himself in one of those distant places, he would find Yahweh there. ), Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2000), Mounce, William D., (ed. The fact that Yahweh created him makes the psalmist precious in Yahweh’s sight. And he marvels at this, confessing a sense of awe at the vastness of God’s thoughts about him. Does the psalmist mean awakening from sleep or meditation? The darkness is like light to you. No reason is provided or justification offered for the divine hand that has befallen the psalmist. 1 For the leader. He likens that task to trying to count every grain of sand. If I would count them, they are more in number than the sand” (vv. The psalmist says that Yahweh has searched him. What those people had in abundance was mystery. “You search out (Hebrew: zarah) my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways” (v. 3). “Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord?” the Psalmist asks. How precious to me are your thoughts, God! Although God’s vast knowledge of an individual’s deeds can be reassuring for the righteous, it … The issue of Davidic authorship of the psalms is sufficiently complex that I can’t do it justice. The word sur (hem me in) usually means to besiege. and lead me in the everlasting way. 1, 2, 4, 6, 14, 23 [2x]), thereby repeatedly reinforcing the “I-Thou” relationship between the psalmist and God. and abhor those who are in rebellion against you? The wings of the dawn and the uttermost parts of the sea stand for incomprehensibly distant and remote places. The psalmist acknowledges that Yahweh has searched (haqar) him and known (yada) him. the light around me will be night;”. 2 you know when I sit and stand; * a. you understand my thoughts from afar. The psalmist has no recourse against such violent power but to turn to the God who is present with him” (924). And he petitions God to act because they are against him, God himself. Yahweh created him. Tucker and Grant note how many hymns tend to highlight the fascination and comfort gained from God’s presence. However, Tucker and Grand note, “The focus on his birth, however, is not an afterthought but actually serves to buttress the claims made in the first two strophes. But Yahweh is not an enemy set on the psalmist’s destruction, as would normally be the case in a siege. At the start, they offer a unifying thread that serves as an interpretive key: As in Psalm 138, the writer of Psalm 139 announces the threats that befall him and pleads for God’s action (Ps 139:19–22). Even then they would spend most of the day independently. Yahweh knows, not only what the psalmist expresses in words, but also the thoughts of his mind. Get updates from Zondervan Academic directly in your inbox. He describes God as:-Omniscient. Like fugitives, we may run, but we cannot ultimately hide from the God who penetrates even the darkness with the gaze of His light. Tucker and Davis offer an overview of these four movements: In Genesis 22, God tests Abraham’s obedience by asking him to sacrifice Isaac, his only son. Psalm 139 combines praise of, appeal to, and wisdom meditation on this God who knows all and who encompasses all. But verses 9-12 suggest that the psalmist finds God’s presence comforting, not threatening. A fisherman would be well acquainted with the sea, but would understand that the uttermost parts of the sea were distant beyond measure. woven together in the depths of the earth. By submitting your email address, you understand that you will receive email communications from HarperCollins Christian Publishing (501 Nelson Place, Nashville, TN 37214 USA) providing information about products and services of HCCP and its affiliates. The psalmist continues the theme of God’s pervasive presence: “Where can I go from your Spirit? Praise him. What’s more, the psalmist uses four verbs of perception, reflecting Yahweh’s attentiveness to the fullness of the psalmist’s life: “to know” (yada‘); “to perceive” (bin); “to discern” (zarah); and “to be familiar with” (sakan). With a holy satisfaction in our own integrity, concerning which we may appeal to God, Ps. The names of the righteous are inscribed there, and that record will prove decisive at the last judgment. the days that were ordained for me, “When I wake up, I am still with you” (v. 18b). Pastor Lloyd says, "In the opening six verses of Psalm 139, there are eight different Hebrew words that stack up to tell you that God knows your story intimately." for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. A psalm of David. This Psalms commentary, which is part of the NIV Application Commentary Series, helps readers learn how the message of the Psalms can have the same powerful impact today that it did when they were first written. As the psalmist was given pause by the thought of God’s pervasive presence, we too should be inspired and taken aback. Just as an engineer would understand an engine that she had designed––or as an artist would know a painting or sculpture that he had created––in the same way Yahweh would naturally know the people he had created. Tucker and Grant emphasize that this is not "a critical, hostile, or even scrutinizing attitude toward the psalmist; instead, they reveal the depth of Yahweh’s knowledge” (917) in a way that’s both intimately personal, yet cosmically kingly. As evidence of this logic, verse 13 begins with the causal use of the particle ki, translated as ‘for’ or ‘because’” (921). 19–22). If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, you are there! The supplicant David, then, blends wisdom themes with a complaint in offering his psalm of prayer and worship before the Lord. How vast is their sum! We find ourselves doing hateful things––and failing to live according to treasured values (Romans 7:15-20). If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me. “I will give thanks to you, for I am fearfully (Hebrew: yare) and wonderfully made” (v. 14a). (17-24) Verses 1-6 God has perfect knowledge of us, and all our thoughts and actions are open before him. Come. 18 If I would count them, they are more in number than the sand. In this context, golem parallels “my frame” (‘otsem) in verse 15a, “with both terms referring to a human in its embryonic state. “The verb ‘to search’ (haqar) can refer to searching out land (Judg 18:2) or searching out a city (2 Sam 10:3), but often, especially in the wisdom literature, the verb means ‘to search’ in the sense of ‘to examine’” (917). Although some readers who come to psalm 139 often infer propositions of God’s omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence, Tucker and Grant offer a different kind of contextual bridge: “Instead, this psalm confesses both God’s constant presence with the psalmist as well as his comprehensive knowledge of the psalmist. You have searched me and known me: David prayed to Yahweh, understandin… Please check errors and resubmit. but the night shines as the day. “If I take the wings of the dawn, and settle in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there your hand will lead me, and your right hand will hold me” (vv. The darkness is like light to you” (vv. has pastored on Capitol Hill and with the Evangelical Covenant Church in Michigan. and know me”—my heart and my anxious thoughts. The emphasis here is not on workmanship, but on the mystery of creation itself. In the presence of Yahweh, “night shines as the day.” Darkness is like light to Yahweh, because he brings the light of his presence into dark places––so we need not fear darkness when Yahweh is near. What is your source for the confidence you need to face the headwinds of life? Psalm 139: No Escape From God Related Media. As the verses immediately following Psalm 139:14 say, "My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. 139:23, 24. Yahweh is indeed close enough to bind him up (in support) but also ‘to lay siege’ to him, should doing so be warranted” (918). But this verse takes it a step further. Psalm 139:1–12. (916). Hers is a 24/7 job, at least while the child is small. 4 For there is not a word on my tongue, For the Chief Musician. Readers through the centuries have interpreted “A Psalm of David” to mean “A Psalm written by David,” but a number of scholars question that interpretation today. (914). “In your book they were all written, the days that were ordained (Hebrew: yasar––formed or fashioned) for me, when as yet there were none of them” (v. 16b). ), The Complete WordStudy Old Testament (Chattanooga; AMG Publishers, 1994), Baker, Warren and Carpenter, Eugene, The Complete WordStudy Dictionary: Old Testament (Chattanooga: AMG Publishers, 2003), Bromiley, Geoffrey (General Editor), The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised, 4 vols. Try me, and know my thoughts. If we were wholly honest, we would have to admit that we harbor similar feelings occasionally––and perhaps not just occasionally. The word yare (fearfully) means fear or reverence or to be awesome. (916-17). Know. Anderson, A.A., The New Century Bible Commentary: Psalms 73-150 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1972), Broyles, Craig C., New International Biblical Commentary: Psalms (Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 1999, Brueggemann, Walter, The Message of the Psalms A Theological Commentary (Minneapolis: Augsburg Press, 1984), Clifford, Richard J., Abingdon Old Testament Commentaries: Psalms 73-150 (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2003), DeClaisse-Walford, Nancy; Jacobson, Rolf A.; Tanner, Beth Laneel, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament: The Book of Psalms (Grand Rapids: Wm. And asks for God to redress his present circumstances ” he declares psalmist understands himself the psalms is complex... Breath, the enemies of God ’ s love to focus on one detail s love to focus on detail. Theme of God eternally movements connected surface where we can be grateful that Yahweh has taken the initiative know!, WorkingPreacher.org, 2015 ; ” has taken the initiative to know ”! 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