Understanding His story helps us to understand that His-Story is our Story!
“Great is the Lord, and highly to be praised, And His greatness is unsearchable” (Ps. 145:3). From the beginning, the greatness of God is clearly seen by Adam and Eve in the garden. Their fear and shame became overwhelming after they had sinned as they heard the Lord approaching. They did their best to hide themselves from the awesome and great God! But one cannot hide from the all-knowing God! And in the generations that followed, the greatness of God was clearly seen.
Noah worships the Lord as the great and merciful God who saved he and his family from certain death. Abraham worshiped the Lord with such fierce faith that he was willing to trust the Lord to raise his son from the dead as he willingly offered his son upon an altar to the Lord. But the great and wonderful Lord stopped him and gave him a sacrifice to take Isaac’s place. Issac, Jacob and Joseph all came to understand more and more about the awesome, most holy and wonderful Lord God Jehovah who has had a plan for man even before the beginning of time! The Lord reveals this through Paul when he speaks of God, “who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity” (2 Tim. 1:9). He has not only known us from the beginning but throughout all eternity! That is a thought that I cannot even begin to comprehend. Our Lord is great and is worthy to be praised!
Moses led the children of Israel to praise the Lord! “You shall fear the Lord your God; you shall serve Him and cling to Him, and you shall swear by His name. He is your praise and He is your God, who has done these great and awesome things for you which your eyes have seen” (Deut. 10:20-21). This knowledge of God was passed down from generation to generation until God searched the heart of a young shepherd boy and made him the shepherd of Israel and his name was David. David’s name is mentioned 971 times in the Scriptures. Some may think we are spending a lot of time on David, his life and his writings, but did you know that the only person who is mentioned by name more than David is Jesus! David was a man who was promised great things by God himself and yet we see him as a real person. We see him as one of us. In this last lesson about David in our chronological study, let us look for the real David! The one that God made him to be. Maybe we can see him for who he really was and maybe find a little of ourselves in him too.
Students should gain a better understanding of the greatness of God. It is the goal of this lesson to bring students to a place of wonder and realization that God truly is Omnipotent, Omnipresent and Omniscient. And, that even though God knows our every thought, deed and even our intent, He still loves us and has redeemed us for His own.
Introduction - In his lifetime, David wrote so many songs of praise to the great and wonderful Lord God Jehovah. He reveals truths about the Lord in these songs and he implores us to sing of the greatness of the Lord! He sets the example for us with words like: “For You are great and do wondrous deeds; You alone are God” (Ps. 86:10). “Sing the glory of His name; Make His praise glorious. Say to God, “How awesome are Your works” (Ps. 66:2-3a)! “Let all who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; And let those who love Your salvation say continually, ‘Let God be magnified’” (Ps. 70:4). David sings of his trust in God! “For to You, O Lord, I lift up my soul. For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, And abundant in lovingkindness to all who call upon You” (Ps. 86:4b-5). David has to tell others not only what the Lord has done in creation but also what the Lord has done in David himself. “Come and hear, all who fear God, And I will tell of what He has done for my soul” (Ps. 66:16).
And then we come to Psalm 139 where David comes to this conclusion: he will never be able to understand the greatness of God! We will not be looking at every verse of this psalm in detail. One lesson would not suffice. But there are some things that the Lord made very clear to me as I studied it and I want to share them with you.
Like David, as we grow in Bible literacy, we begin to understand more about who God really is. We begin to understand how He sees us and we begin to understand what HE has done for us. That is why Bible literacy is so important and why we must pass it down to the next generation. The Scriptures teach us the ways of the Lord and as we learn about Him we find ourselves in awe and wonder. The Lord is TOO AWESOME to describe! We have no words to suffice! Our minds cannot comprehend the true power, majesty, presence, knowledge, love or mercy of God! It is then that we can identify with David and proclaim as he did that such knowledge is too wonderful for me!
1. The Lord Knows! - Ps. 139:1-4
“O Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. You scrutinize my path and my lying down, And are intimately acquainted with all my ways. Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O Lord, You know it all” (Ps. 139:1-4).
Will the Real David Please Stand Up! You may remember, depending on your age, a TV show called “To Tell The Truth”? The show actually began in 1956, but I remember watching the show back in the 70’s and even as a kid and then a teenager, I enjoyed trying to figure out who was telling the truth. We would watch and try to figure out who was a doctor, or who was a construction worker or some other profession by the answers they gave to the questions asked. The truth was not always obvious because we only had the information that resulted from the panel's questions. Now that I think about it, I think I may have played that game with the Lord a time or two in my life. The only problem is, God always wins! He always knows the truth! The game show was fun! Not so much when you try to fool the Lord...
In the first verses of Psalm 139, David admits something that he has come to realize and believe. And that is - God knows everything about David! He acknowledges that the Lord searches him, knows him, understands him, scrutinizes him, and that the Lord is intimately acquainted with him! God knows who David really is! “O Lord, You have searched me and known me” (v.1). But notice that David did not say that he is intimately acquainted with the Lord. David’s focus is the Lord! “You scrutinize my path and my lying down, And are intimately acquainted with all my ways. Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O Lord, You know it all” (139:3-4).
In v.3, the word “scrutinize” is Zarah (pronounced zaw-raw') in Hebrew. It means to scatter, fan, cast away, winnow, disperse, to toss about. It is a word associated with winnowing (or threshing) the wheat harvest. The word literally paints a picture of wheat being thrown into the air as the wind blows away the useless chaff and the precious grains of wheat fall back to the ground. When David said “Zarah” in v.3, he is probably thinking about wheat! David seems to be thinking about how we are like wheat and how God is the one who grows us, gathers us to Himself and separates us from the sinful, unhealthy and unholy things in our lives. He is working to reveal the real us, separated from the chaff, so we can become usable as wheat for making bread! The connections to Jesus, the Bread of Life are obvious! On a side note: David had purchased the threshing floor of Araunah as the place were the Temple would be built (2 Sam. 24:18-25). (Most likely the large rock that is now covered by the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem.) So it is no wonder that he would have thought about threshing wheat.
In order for wheat to become usable, it has to be separated from the chaff… (the shaft, the hull, and the parts of the stalk that are not edible). It is called winnowing or threshing. Chaff is the unusable parts and any weeds that are mixed in with the wheat when it grows in the field. The harvesters would cut the wheat off and tie it into bundles and take it to the threshing floor. They would take something like a pitchfork and scoop up the wheat and throw it into the air and the useless stuff like the stalk, weeds and leaves would blow away with the wind. The more wind they had, the better! Little by little there would be less chaff. The wheat was heavier and would fall back down on the rock! They would keep going until it was mostly just the grains of the wheat that was left. Then someone would process the wheat even more after that. They would take the wheat and rub it in their hands and let the hull (the skin) of each grain of wheat come off and blow away until they had clean fresh wheat that could be used to make bread and feed the people. Whatever the chaff is in our lives, even the thoughts and words that are not yet on our lips, the Lord knows them all (v.4)!
I believe that what David is saying is that the Lord winnows along the path of his life! The Lord works in David’s life! The Lord has shown unimaginable love and attention to David and the thoughts of the Almighty God doing this for him is more than he can comprehend! Our lives are His threshing floor! (There’s a connection there between the place where the Temple would be built and the fact that we become His temple when we are saved.) In David’s life, there were tumultuous times and the wind blew and it must have seemed as if he would be blown away but the Lord uses those times to remove the chaff, the unusable bits and pieces of his life. What a great picture!
2. The Hand of God and His Spirit at Work in Us! Ps. 139:5-7
“You have enclosed me behind and before, And laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is too high, I cannot attain to it. Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence” (139:5-7)?
In v.5, he talks about being closed up in the hands of God! The Hebrew word for enclose (Tsuwr) can be a positive thing - like protection? But it can have a negative connotation and mean something along the lines of assault, distress or beset. That appears to be a picture of God removing the useless hull of David’s life to get to the usable grain inside and David does not appear to see it as a negative thing that God has done. In fact, just the opposite! He has arrived at a place of humility before the awesome Lord God. In v.7, he talks about the wind of the Spirit of God! “Where can I go from Your Spirit?” "Spirit" - Hebrew - Ruwach (pronounced Row-akh) - means wind, breath, mind, spirit. It is translated Spirit or spirit 232 times, wind 92 times and breath 27 times in the NASB. Everything involved in the process of harvesting wheat is in Psalm 139. And right in the middle of that he admits “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is too high, I cannot attain to it” (Ps. 139:6). If I may give my opinion on this, what David is saying is - the fact that you love me Lord, is too hard to understand because you know who I really am and what I really think and do! You know who you made me to be and you know all the times I have acted like someone else…
3. God Made David to be...? - Ps. 139:13-16
“For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them” (139:13-16).
The picture we are given in Psalm 139 is that He has searched for the real David. And, He found the real David (past tense, “known me” in v.1)! The Lord helped Samuel understand this when he chose David as a scrawny young man over his big brother, Eliab: “But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart’” (1 Sam. 16:7 NLT).
He knew David’s heart and what kind of man he was capable of being. David reminds us that the Lord searches the heart! He searched for the real David that He formed in his mother’s womb. “For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Ps. 139:13-14a). He searches in your heart too for the real you that He made you to be. He doesn't search for your location. He always knows that! He searches in your heart for the real you. The real you that few people or possibly no one else knows except you and the Lord. His search goes to the very innermost part of who you are! Into your thoughts! Into your true intentions. Into the darkest, deepest parts of your being that you would never reveal to others! “‘I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give to each man according to his ways, According to the results of his deeds’” (Jer. 17:10). The Lord knows many things about you that you may not even realize yourself - yet… but the Lord helps us in this! “In the same way the Spirit also helps us in our weakness, because we do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with unspoken groanings. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because he intercedes for the saints according to the will of God” (Rom. 8:26-27 CSB).
So, here is what I have realized… In this psalm we see, winnowing v.3, enclosed in the hand v.5, and in v.7, the wind. The Lord has painted a picture of what He does for us! The process for revealing the real you! The you that He formed in the womb! The you that He loves so much! The you He wants to spend eternity with! The fact that He thinks about you nonstop and wants to be with you for all of eternity is just TOO WONDERFUL! Wow!
The Lord is watching as the wheat (David then and now us) is being winnowed and He sees everything that needs to be blown away by the wind of His Spirit! Every small foreign object that does not belong. Do you think that sometimes the wind may need to blow harder? Do you think that sometimes He may have to rub longer to remove the husk form us? But you can be sure that He is the best there is at getting to the kernel and producing bread! The bread is Jesus Christ and He offers Himself as the Bread of Life through us! There’s something to spend a little time thinking about!
David does not run or try to hide from the Lord’s searching! He ends with these thoughts: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way” (Ps. 139:23-24). He gives himself over to the Lord! He embraces the searching of the heart by the Lord who can then reveal anything in his heart that is hurtful to the Lord or to himself. He desires for the Lord to lead him into the path that is everlasting. Wow! He even asks the Lord to search him more! (vs.23-24) I love to pray the words used in the New Living Translation! “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.”
Application - Finding Jesus on Every Page
Is that your prayer? Maybe now is the time to pray that prayer and embrace the Lord who knows everything you have ever thought or done… And loves you anyway!
Our God Searches Us and He Knows Us! David said, “O Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. You scrutinize my path and my lying down, And are intimately acquainted with all my ways” (Ps. 139:1-3). He "searched" - In v.1 - the word searched is Chaqar in Hebrew (pronounced khaw-kar') means to search for or examine. But, this is much more than just looking to see what is there. When God searches, He intently looks for something and you can be sure He finds it! How intense is the gaze of our God who knows everything?! Peter understood this very well after denying Jesus three times. Upon the third denial, he turns and looks at the Lord only to see the Lord looking back at him. What an intense moment of realizing that the Lord truly knows his heart as Peter begins to weep (Luke 21:61-62). By the way, that teaches us another truth - any time we look at the Lord, He is always looking back!
He knows who you really are and in spite of that He still encloses you in His hands! In fact Jesus promises us that no one will be able to pluck us from His hand or the Father’s hand (John 10:28-29)! He is working to make you into the person He wants you to be! The person He made you to be! Unique in all of creation! He made you to be you! The real you that He is going to spend eternity with! And, when we realize this, like David, we realize this knowledge is too wonderful for me to understand.
He said to the Lord, “You are ‘intimately acquainted’ with all of my ways.” Most scholars agree that this is the proper interpretation of the single Hebrew word (pronounced saw-kan') used by David here in this verse, but this particular word is also translated as - advantage 1 time, profits 1 time, steward 1 time, use 1 time, useful 1 time, yield 1 time, intimately acquainted 1 time and a few more different uses in the KJV and in the NASB. It is a root word and a verb. Ok, I know you are saying that I am boring you now, but this is worth considering. David said, “You scrutinize my path and my lying down, And are intimately acquainted with all my ways” (Ps. 139:3). The Word of God teaches us that we are like wheat. Matt. 3:12, “His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” (See also: Matt. 13:24-30, Luke 22:31!)
Considering what we just looked at, it is as though the Lord is saying I know your most intimate ways and every inch of the road you travel through life and I still use it for good! He works everything for His good and that means that everything will ultimately be for our good! His good is our good! He searches and knows the road of our life and uses it to accomplish His ultimate will! And whether we want to admit it or not, His ultimate will is to bring Himself the glory only He deserves. “‘For My own sake, for My own sake, I will act; For how can My name be profaned? And My glory I will not give to another’” (Isa. 48:11).
So, like David, we can trust the all-knowing God who has enclosed us in His hands and is removing the chaff and the hull from us so that we may be part of producing the Bread of Life in others. What a great picture! We can pray the same prayer as David prayed! “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way” (vv.23-24). As I sit and think through what I have learned so far from Psalms and especially from 139, I have arrived at the same conclusion as David! Lord… these thoughts are just too wonderful for me and they are just too high for me to reach! “But Lord, please teach me some more. I want to know you better…” How about you?
God speaks through the Psalms in order to reveal His great and wonderful glory to us!
God acts by searching us and removing the chaff from our lives in order to make us usable in the way He intended from eternity past.
God reveals His great love for us through the thoughts He has for us that are precious and too many to count!
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