1 You, O LORD, have searched me and you know me; 2 when I sit or rise, to you is known. From afar my inner thoughts you ponder— 3 both my going out and lying down. 4 All my ways you know; I speak no word but you know it perfectly, O LORD.
5 For you hem me in before and after, and upon me you have laid your hand. 6 Such a knowledge is beyond my grasping, higher far than I can understand. 7 From your Spirit where can I be free? From your presence whither can I flee?
8 If I fly to heaven, you are present; or if in the depths I make my home. 9 If I rise up on the wings of morning, or beyond the farthest sea I roam, 10 Even there your hand will guide my way; your right hand will never let me stray.
11 If I say, “The dark will surely hide me, and the light around me will be night,” 12 Even night would not be dark before you, and the dark would shine for you as light. Darkness can hide nothing from your view, and the blackness is as light to you.
13 For you made and formed my inmost being; in my mother’s womb you moulded me. 14 I will praise you, for I have been fashioned by you fearfully and wondrously. All your works are wonderful, I know— I acknowledge this and stand in awe.
15 From your sight my frame was never hidden in the secret place before my birth, 16 For your eyes beheld my unformed body when I was conceived in depths of earth. You wrote all the days ordained for me in your book before one came to be.
17 Precious are your thoughts, O God, about me! they exceed my power to understand. 18 If I were to try to count their number, they are more than all the grains of sand. When I waken in the morn anew, I continue still, O LORD, with you.
19 O that you, my God, would slay the wicked! Go from me, all you who thirst for blood! 20 With an evil mind they speak against you; your foes take your name in vain, O God. 21 Do not I, O LORD, your foes despise? 22 I abhor them as my enemies.
23 Search me, LORD, and know my inmost feelings; test me now and know my anxious mind. 24 See if there is anything offensive in my way of life that you can find; And direct me, O my God, I pray, in your good and everlasting way.
This most intimate Psalm shows how much God loves each one of us – from the inside out, and in every moment of our lives, however far we may travel – both geographically and from God.
The level of knowledge that God has about us is so deep that it is hard to comprehend. A long-married couple know each other well, but that knowledge is nothing compared to the knowledge of us, and the love for us, that God has.
That knowledge extends to the time before we were born, when we were formed in the womb. A friend who recently became a great grandmother explained how she was meeting her great grandson for the first time, but yet she had known him for months – and indeed with modern scanning, we can perhaps feel closer to the unborn child than could previous generations.
This knowledge that God has of us means that we must never be afraid to confess when we get it wrong – God already knows, and is ready to forgive and move on. God is happy to surround us with love and to accept our thankful praise.
So, even in the part of this Psalm which we might find difficult, where David wants ill to fall on his enemies, it is their hate for God that he wants to see judged – to him, God’s enemies are his enemies too.
David is happy to be searched by God, to have wicked thoughts removed and to be set upon the right path. Are we also happy to undergo that examination and to walk the way that God chooses with Jesus at our side?
Jesus be beside me as I walk the way. Walk on my left and my right to keep me on the path, walk in front of me to lead the way, and behind me to stop me falling behind.
Be within me as I live out my day, and within those whom I meet. Let your love shine through me in all that I do. Amen
The Rev’d Sue Cossey, NSM and Synod Pastoral Advisor, Bristol.
Sing Psalms! (C) The Psalmody and Worship Committee, the Free Church of Scotland.