By Henry Mahan
There is nothing more dishonoring to God nor a greater denial of the very character of God than for us, in his name, to pretend to be what we are not, to use words that are not sincere and which do not come from the heart, and to do works of religion for the admiration and applause of men (1 Sam. 16:7; Luke 16:15). The Lord Jehovah knows us, understands us, and is intimately acquainted with our persons, nature, and character. It is so important that we know the God who knows us! (John 17:3; 1 John 5:20; 2 Tim. 1:12.) There is nothing in us that God does not know.
v. 1. I am a very small part of this universe; yet the Lord knows me as thoroughly as if he had examined me minutely, as if he had searched me individually with his sovereign eye. This infallible knowledge has always existed, for he has searched me. It is 'Jehovah and me.' With him I have to do (Heb. 4:13).
1. He knows all my movements--'downsitting and uprising,' whether I sit down to read, watch television, write, or rise up to walk, work, or play.
2. He knows all my thoughts--what they have been, what they are now, and what they will be.
3. He knows my actions--he encircles me whether awake or asleep and is acquainted with my ways, my motives, my purposes.
4. He knows my words--Yea, there has never been a word of my tongue that is not registered in the mind of God. He knows these words 'altogether'--the source of them, the reason for them, and the results of them.
v. 5. God not only beholds us but he besets us. He surrounds us and hems us in. There is no escape, for he is before and behind us; and lest one thinks that his surrounding presence is distant, he adds, 'And laid thy hand upon me' (John 17:2) to deal with in mercy or judgment. (e.g. Pharaoh, Rom. 9:17; Paul, Acts 9:15.)
v. 6. The omnipotence, the omniscience, and the omnipresence of God are too wonderful for me to understand. The wisdom, the glory, the holiness of God are far too high for me. At my most enlightened height his every attribute is higher than the heavens above me (Rom. 11:33-36).
1. The attributes of God make sure his promises, yet they are too high for me.
2. The incarnation of Christ is the most complete manifestation of God, yet unexplainable.
3. Redemption by the death of Christ is the highest guarantee of our salvation, but who can explain it?
4. The resurrection will satisfy the highest hope of sinners, but no one knows the mystery of it.
5. How do you account for his inspired word? the power of his gospel? 'O, that I may know him and the power of his resurrection.'
vv. 7-12. Notice how the Psalmist makes this matter personal to himself. If aware of my sin, full of fear at the presence of the most high God, desiring to escape that confrontation with his holiness, where shall I go? Where shall I flee? The highest, the deepest, the remotest are all his dwelling places. Darkness and light are both alike to God!
v. 13. God owns me! He not only observes me and knows me, but he is the owner and Lord of my innermost parts. Even hidden in my mother's womb he covered me. In my most secret parts (my reins) and in my most secret condition (yet unborn) I am under the ownership and control of my God.
vv. 14-16. I would not be dogmatic here, but it appears that David turns from the observer to the observed, from marveling at the mysteries of God to rejoicing in the mercies of God. 'I will praise thee.'
1. 'I am fearfully and wonderfully made,' and this is true of me in my fourfold state: (a) created in Adam, (b) fallen in Adam and born in sin, (c) regenerated in Christ, and (d) glorified forever. Marvelous are the works of our God.
2. 'My substance (my being, my frame, my life) was known to you when I was conceived and formed in my mother's womb' (Jer. 1:5).
3. You saw me, loved me, knew me, and in your book of life and purpose my name was written; and my life and days were recorded even when there were none! (John 10:14-16, 27-29; Eph. 1:3-7.) God has predestinated all whom he has foreknown to be perfectly conformed to the image of his Son, before they were born or even the world began (Rom. 8:28-31). How shall a Jewish boy ever sit upon the throne in Egypt? God knows!
vv. 17-18. 'How precious are thy thoughts unto me, O God!' God knows our thoughts of ourselves and of him, and they are by nature only evil continually. But his thoughts toward us are love and grace. What can I say?
1. It is marvelous that God should even think upon us.
2. It is marvelous that his thoughts are not evil toward us.
3. It is more marvelous and precious that his thoughts toward us are more than the sand in the desert and on the ocean floor.
I go to my bed rejoicing in thy mercies to me, and when I awake 'I am still with thee.' Soon we shall lie down to sleep for the last time; and when we awake, we shall awake in his likeness (Psalm 17:15).
vv. 19-22. Just as surely as God will redeem his elect, he will slay the wicked! Eternal death out of Christ is as sure as eternal life in Christ. These wicked men have two great offenses: (1) they speak against God, and (2) they carelessly use his name in vain. This is done in religion as much as in the dens of iniquity.
David adds, 'God's enemies are my enemies' (Rev. 19:1-3).
vv. 23-24. I do not want to be among his enemies. I want to think reverently and thankfully of my God. I want to own, revere, and praise his name. Lord, search me, try me, redeem me, and lead me in the way of Christ, which is the way everlasting. I must be led in that way, for by nature I neither know it nor desire it.