Theme: Four Applications of God’s Omniscience
In this week’s lessons, we learn about the benefits of God’s omniscience for his children.
Scripture: Psalm 139:13-24
In the course of this study we have been looking at God’s omniscience, omnipresence and omnipotence—that God knows everything, is everywhere, and is all-powerful. But we have also seen that the overriding theme, the one for which the others are mentioned, is omniscience. Is knowledge of the perfect knowledge of God important? Is it practical? If we have understood the psalm thus far, we cannot doubt it. Here is what appreciation of the omniscience of God should do for every Christian.
1. It should humble us. I think here of Job. God allowed Satan to attack Job to demonstrate that a believer is able to love God solely for who he is and not merely for the many blessings he gives. But Job didn’t know what God was doing. When his friends came to see him they argued that since God is a just God and this is a moral universe, bad things do not happen without good reasons. Therefore, Job must have sinned in some way and have brought his troubles on himself. Job did not consider himself to be innocent of sin, of course. But he knew that he had done nothing to deserve what was happening to him. Who can explain it?
For thirty-seven chapters God was silent. But at last, toward the very end of the book, God speaks. We might expect God to explain things to Job, to tell him about Satan’s accusations and reveal how Job had been singled out as a righteous man who would trust God even in misery. But this is not what we find. Instead, we find God rebuking Job for presuming to think that he could understand God’s ways, even if they were explained to him. This is in the form of a lengthy interrogation having to do with God’s perfect knowledge contrasted with Job’s ignorance. It goes on for four chapters—a total of 129 verses, less the five verses that introduce and then sustain the narrative—and at the end Job is completely humbled. He replies to God, “Surely I spoke things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know…Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:3, 6).
If we ever begin to appreciate the perfect knowledge of God and by contrast our own pathetic understanding, the first effect this will have on us will be humility, as in Job’s case. We will be embarrassed to think that we ever supposed we could contend with God intellectually.
2. It should comfort us. It is not only humility that knowledge of the perfect knowledge of God will work in us. We will also find that our knowledge of God’s knowledge brings comfort. This is because God knows the worst about us and loves us anyway. Again, he knows the best about us, even when other people do not, and even blame us for things that are not our fault. Job expressed his comfort in God’s knowledge, saying, “He knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold” (Job 23:10).
3. It should encourage us to live for God. This is what has happened in Psalm 139. David has been reflecting on the omniscience of God, and although an unbeliever might be terrified by such a reflection or crushed by it, and rightly so, David has ended on a practical note in which he has asked God to help him lead an upright life, knowing that God will do it precisely because he knows him so well.
We know very little. We do not even know ourselves. But God knows us. He knows our weaknesses and our strengths. He knows our sins but also our aspirations toward a godly life. He knows when isolation will help us grow strong but also when we need companionship to stand in righteousness. He knows when we need rebuking and correcting but also when we need teaching and encouragement. If anyone can “lead me in the way everlasting” it is God. Moreover, since I know he knows me and wants to help me, I can be encouraged to get on with upright living.
4. It should help us to pray. Jesus taught this in the Sermon on the Mount when he encouraged his followers to pray to God confidently, expecting answers. “When you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him” (Matt. 6:7, 8). This is then followed by what we call the Lord’s Prayer, a model prayer consisting of just fifty-two words.
God’s knowledge of what we need is so perfect that he often answers even before we pray to him. “Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear,” wrote Isaiah (Isa. 65:24). Who can be terrified by a God who knows and answers us like that?
How should a knowledge of God’s omniscience humble us?
For what reason did God allow Satan to attack Job? How does this relate to Psalm 139?
Why does the fact that God is omniscient give comfort?
Key Point: We know very little. We do not even know ourselves. But God knows us.
Reflection: How often have you thought you knew a better way than God? What were the circumstances? How did you come to realize the supremacy of God’s wisdom and ways?
Application: In what areas of your life do you need to apply the truth of God’s omniscience?
Prayer: Thank God that he knows you so deeply and completely.