Preacher: “O LORD, you have searched me and known me”.
Seeker: “You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from far away.”
Preacher: “You search out my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways.”
Seeker: “Even before a word is on my tongue, O LORD, you know it completely.”
Preacher: “You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.”
Seeker: I am trying to determine, Preacher, whether these verses by the psalmist are a comfort to me. It seems, well, intrusive and . . . . . uncomfortable. Is it possible to be “too” well known?
Preacher: Well, Seeker, I can see how one might feel that way. When we look at ourselves, really look closely at ourselves and scrutinize our inner being, we may not like what we see. Some might preen and overlook the flaws in themselves, and I feel sorry for them. They are not fooling anyone on earth, and certainly not fooling the Divine. And I can see where a person might feel uncomfortable. But you have to understand, Seeker, the Divine looks on us with love and Christ’s mercy and redemption wipes away all the flaws. And really, the psalmist realized this. Read on.
Seeker: “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is so high that I cannot attain it. Where can I go from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there. If I take the wings of the morning and settle at the farthest limits of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light around me become night,” even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is as bright as the day, for darkness is as light to you.” Oh my! There is no escape!
Preacher: No, there is not. The Lord God’s omnipotence and omnipresence know no bounds. It is hard to know whether the psalmist meant it as a praise or a confession. I guess it depends on how the person who is speaking is feeling about himself. King David, who might have the writer of this psalm, saw himself pretty clearly – most of the time. He said, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:1-12, 23-24) That last part, “lead me in the way everlasting” can be read as a petition for the Lord God to improve the way one lives out a Christian life; or as the psalmist might have seen it, to attend to his (and her) faith and spiritual life.
Seeker: It is a very brave prayer! To lay one’s self open to the Divine, and expect mercy. But I guess that is what Christ came for. To ease and support self-examination and confession to the Divine, and to assure humanity that mercy and forgiveness is available.
Preacher: That is a fine summing up for Jesus Christ’ mission, Seeker. Very fine indeed. Shalom & Selah, Seeker!