Psalm 139

Some people associate this Psalm with the book of Job, a piece of literature within which the author explores the over-simplistic view of life which says that good living is rewarded and bad living is punished here in this world – which everybody knows is more or less true, but is something of an oversimplification of the realities of life.

I remember reading a passage once where an author was reflecting on a struggle he had as a young person struggling for a sense of identity. His comment was that he found great relief in realizing that even if he didn’t know who he was, he suddenly had become aware that God was perfectly aware of who he was, and that was a comfort to him during that time of his life.

Verse seven reflects a very common experience of finding God present in the most surprising circumstances. We sometimes fall into thinking that there are places where life is so bleak or so dark, God could not possibly be present. I remember speaking with the young couple who sang every night in the pub in a town I lived in. They said that they felt that the negative atmosphere they frequently encountered was like standing on a bridge in looking over the edge, feeling drawn off the bridge. They felt that they were in the struggle every night trying to bring people up out of that black hole, and became aware of God’s presence and help in the task. The same week they told me of that, a young person said that I should not meet her there to talk, because it was such an evil place.

There is a book that was going the rounds a few years ago called Fearfully and Wonderfully Made, by a doctor who was so overwhelmed with the intricate beauty of the human body and all its inner workings. The title was drawn from verse 14, and reflects the tone of that section of this Psalm.