Psalm 139 Valuing Every Life

VALUING EVERY LIFE
Psalm 139:1-24    January 21 2007

This week’s lesson concerns the sanctity of human
life. Our study of Psalm 139 should help us perceive
the value of every human if. Contemporary Society
tends to rate some people as more worthy or
desirable than others. Simply put , some human
lives are valued more highly than others. As
Christians we know that God placed a supreme value
on every human life, and He expects us to treat all
human beings as important to us because they are
important to Him . Jesus Christ died for all persons.
Studying this lesson will help us resist conforming
to cultural pressures to devalue some people and to
treat them with lee respect than they deserve.

1. Value Of Being Known (Ps. 139:1-6)

Ps. 139:1   O LORD, you have searched me and you know
me. 139:2   You know when I sit and when I rise; you
perceive my thoughts from afar. 139:3   You discern my
going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all
my ways. 139:4   Before a word is on my tongue you
know it completely, O LORD. 139:5   You hem me in
—behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me.
139:6   Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too
lofty for me to attain.

A prayer for God to examine the heart and see
its true devotion (Ps.139:1-24). Like Job, the
author firmly claims his loyalty to the Lord.
Nowhere (outside Job) does one find expressed
such profound awareness of how awesome it is
to ask God to examine not only one’s life but also
his soul —God, who knows every thought, word
and deed, from whom there is no hiding, who has
been privy even to one’s formation in the dark
concealment of the womb. The thought progresses
steadily in four poetic paragraphs of six verses
each (Ps. 1-6, 7-12, 13-18, 19-24), and each
paragraph is concluded with a couplet that
elaborates on the unit’s central theme. References
to God’s searching and knowing begin and end the
prayer. (139:1-6) God, you know me perfectly, far
beyond my knowledge of myself: my every action
(139: 2 a), my every undertaking (139: 3 a) and the
manner in which I pursue it (Ps.139: 3 b), even my
thoughts before they are fully crystallized
(Ps.139: 2 b) and my words before they are uttered
(Ps.139: 4). You Hem Me in. To keep me under
scrutiny. Laid Your Hand Upon Me. So that I do not
escape you. The figures are different in (Job 13:27),
but the thought is much the same. Hand.
Or “hands.” Too Wonderful For Me. Yours is a
“wonder”knowledge, beyond my human capacity —
the Hebrew term regularly applies to God’s
wondrous acts (Ps 77:11,14 “miracles”; Ex 15:11).

2. Value Of Being Accompanied (Ps. 139:7-12)

Ps. 139:7   Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can
I flee from your presence? 139:8   If I go up to the
heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths,
you are there. 139:9   If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea, 139:10   even
there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold
me fast. 139:11   If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide
me and the light become night around me,” 139:12   even
the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine
like the day, for darkness is as light to you.

There is no hiding from you (Ps.139:7-12) —here no
abstract doctrine of divine omnipresence but an awed
confession that God cannot be escaped (Jer 23:23-24).
(139:7) Your Spirt. . . Your Presence. Ps. 51:11;
Isa 63:9-10; Eze 39:29 (“face. . . Spirit”). The Heavens
. . . The Depths. The two vertical extremes . Wings Of
The Dawn. . . Far Side of the Sea. The two horizontal
extremes: east and west (the sea is the Mediterranean).
Using a literary figure in which the totality is denoted
by referring to its two extremes (merism), 139: 8-9
specify all spatial reality, the whole creation. Guide
me. . . Hold me Fast. Though this language occurs in
Ps.73:23-24 to indicate God’s solicitous care, it here
denotes God’s inescapable supervision, not unlike the
thought of v.Ps.139: 5. (139:11-12) Just as the whole
creation offers no hiding place (139: 8-9), neither
does even the darkness.

3. Value Of Having Purpose (Ps. 139:13-16)

Ps. 139:13   For you created my inmost being; you knit
me together in my mother’s womb. 139:14   I praise you
because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your
works are wonderful, I know that full well. 139:15   My
frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the
secret place. When I was woven together in the depths
of the earth, 139:16   your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.

You yourself put me together in the womb and ordained
the span of my life before I was born(Ps.139:13-16) .
(Ps.139:13) CREATED. The Hebrew for this verb is the
same as in Ge 14:19,22; Pr 8:22 (“brought. . . forth”),
not as in Ge 1:1,21,27. Inmost being. Lit. “kidneys ”—in
Hebrew idiom, the innermost center of emotions and
of moral sensitivity —that which God tests and
examines when he “searches” a person (Ps.7:9). Fearfully
. . . Wonderfully. . . Wonderful. You know me as the One
who formed me (Ps.139:15-16), but I cannot begin to
comprehend this creature you have fashioned. I can only
look upon him with awe and wonder (139:6 )—and praise
you ( Ecc 11:5). Secret Place. . . Depths ofthe Earth.
Reference is to the womb: called “the secret place”
because it normally conceals (2Sa 12:12), and it shares
with “the depths of the earth” (Ps. 30:1) associations
with darkness, dampness and separation from the visible
realm of life. Moreover, both phrases refer to the place
of the dead (Ps. 63:9; Job 14:13; Isa 44:23; 45:19), with
which on one level the womb appears to have been
associated: Man comes from the dust and returns to the
dust (Ps. 90:3; Ge 3:19; Ecc 3:20; 12:7), and the womb is
the “depth ”-like place where he is formed (Isa 44:2,24;
49:5; Jer 1:5). All the days Ordained. The span of life
sovereignly determined. Your book. The heavenly royal
register of God’s decisions (Ps. 56:8).

Summary:

Since God value all people, believers should show respect
for all humans. James warned us to be careful what we say
about other people, since they “are made in God’s likeness”
(Jas. 3:9). Knowing that God is present with all people,
whether they acknowledge Him or not, should help us treat
other people with respect.
All human being are valuable to God since He accompanies
them wherever they go. Believers are aware of God’s presence.
Sometimes we have unusual experiences that remind us that
God is with us. Jacob, for example, met God in a vivid way at
Bethel (Gen.28:16-17) and Peniel (Gen. 32:30).