The Book of Psalms

Wednesday: Safe in God’s Thoughts


Theme: The Perfection of God’s Knowledge
In this week’s lessons, we see the importance and blessing of God’s omniscience.
Scripture: Psalm 139:1-12
The perfection of God’s knowledge is also disturbing, however, which is one reason why people try so hard not to think about God. As long as we only think about God knowing things or other people, the idea of God’s knowledge is only amusing, like our reaction to this report about a child’s school room. The children were asked whether they thought God understood computers, and the majority thought he did not. That is amusing because we know that God does understand computers. But the subject is not so amusing when we consider that God also knows about us. What are we to do with a God “before whom all hearts are open, all desires known”? An all-knowing God is immensely threatening, which is why we try to banish him from our minds. Arthur W. Pink, whom I quoted yesterday, notes that the thought of divine omniscience “fills us with uneasiness.”1
A. W. Tozer is even stronger: “In the divine omniscience we see set forth against each other the terror and fascination of the Godhead. That God knows each person through and through can be a cause of shaking fear to the man that has something to hide—some unforsaken sin, some secret crime committed against man or God.”2
Roy Clements says that David’s description of God is like some “master detective who snoops…into every detail of his existence, armed with X-ray cameras and laser probes.” He is like the oppressive, all-seeing eye of Big Brother in George Orwell’s futuristic anti-utopian novel 1984.3
For an unsaved person this powerful pervasive knowledge seems intrusive and frightening, and with good reason. God is the end-time judge with whom we must reckon. But strikingly, the response of the psalmist is not at all like this. He is not trembling when he thinks of God’s omniscience. On the contrary, he shelters himself in God’s knowledge and marvels at it. For the psalmist God’s knowledge is not a threat; it is a refuge. 
But isn’t it a natural reaction to want to escape God’s all-seeing, all-knowing presence, and actually try to? Yes. That is probably why David’s thoughts turn to the matter of God’s omnipresence in verses 7-12. 
Some commentators see in these verses a true desire of David to escape God’s gaze. But although that might be a natural response to reflecting on God’s omniscience, as I suggested, it is not at all what he is saying. In a sense, David is still meditating on God’s omniscience, noting that the reason why God sees everything and knows everything is that he is everywhere to see and know it. In fact, since the psalmist is making these points of theology personal, what impresses him is that God will always be wherever he goes. Try as he might, he would never be able to escape him. But he is not fearing that or dreading it. He is comforted by the thought. 
1Arthur W. Pink, The Attributes of God (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, n.d.), p. 13. 
2A. W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy: The Attributes of God, Their Meaning in the Christian Life (New York: Harper & Row, 1961) p. 63. 
3Roy C. Clements, Songs of Experience: Midnight & Dawn Through the Eyes of the Psalmists (Fearn, Scotland: Christian Focus, 1993), pp. 170, 171. 
Study Questions: 

Why is an all-knowing God threatening to some?
How does David regard God’s knowledge? 
Why does David talk about where God is? 

Prayer: Praise God today for his omniscience and ask God for a better understanding of it.
Key Point: God will always be wherever he [the psalmist] goes. Try as he might, he would never be able to escape him. But he is not fearing that or dreading it. He is comforted by the thought.

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