Tuesday, November 1, 2011

God is Omnipresent


Psalm 139:7-18

139:7 “Where can I go from Thy Spirit?”:  Some feel that David’s initial reaction to God’s omniscience is a desire to escape from such penetrating knowledge, yet this does not sound like David, rather as Boice notes, “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” (p. 1204).  139:8-10 Hypothetical examples of where David might try to escape are given here.  God commands His whole creation; there is no corner in which He is absent, either in life or in death.   The word “Sheol”, would be the Old Testament word for Hades, and this would even include the torment side of eternity.  In His judicial capacity, God is also present in Hell.  In fact, the thing that makes hell so terrible is that it is run by God, it is not ruled by the devil (Revelation 20:10). 

139:9  “If I take the wings of the dawn”:  That is, if David were to fly at the speed of light from the east across the sky to the west, he still could not escape from the presence of God. “Probably this means to flash from east to west as fast as the dawn’s early light streaks from horizon to horizon.  Would that help?  Even if it were possible, it would not enable us to escape God, for when we get to that far distant horizon, we find that God is already there before us” (Boice p. 1205). 139:10  In this verse we find David expressing his appreciation that God’s long arm is always with him.  Geography cannot separate us from God!  Sometimes people think, “If we could just leave this planet and journey to a distant solar system, then we would no longer be accountable to God”.  Or, “if we could just travel back or ahead in time, then I would no longer be answerable to God”.  But man is always accountable to God everywhere and anywhere, for God is not bound by space or time, and the person with a good heart never wants to lose or shake God.  139:11-12  Both darkness and light are the same to God, darkness does not limit or hinder His presence or knowledge.  He made them (Genesis 1:4-5); He commands them.  There is no escape in them.  What a wonderful verse to share with our children at night when they are afraid of the dark, yet evil people often try to operate under the cover of darkness (Job 24:15  “The eye of the adulterer waits for the twilight”.

139:13  One reason why God knows everything about us is that God created us.  God created us and He knows how we think and work.  In addition, God did not just create man in general, but He is also the Creator of every specific individual.  This verse is saying that God providentially supervises the formation of every child in the womb.  God even saw David when David was forming in his mother’s womb!  The word “weave” carries the idea of being “woven together”, like a cloth on a loom.  David’s “inward parts” would certainly include far more than simply his internal organs, but rather such things as his conscience, mind, heart or soul (Genesis 1:26-27; James 3:9; Zechariah 12:1 “and forms the spirit of man within him”).

“These verses plainly teach the individuality of a child while it is still in its mother’s womb.  But no one can read these verses thoughtfully today without considering their obvious meaning on the contemporary problem of abortion.  The chief issue in discussions about abortion concerns the identity of the fetus.  People who argue for the right of a woman to have an abortion—‘It’s my own body; I can do with it as I please’---usually argue that the fetus is not yet a person, but is only a part of the woman’s body, like a gallbladder or appendix that she can elect to have removed.  That is why language describing the unborn child has changed so radically.  A generation ago everyone referred to the unborn child as a baby, and pregnant women knew they were carrying a baby.  It is hard for anyone to think calmly about killing a baby.  So today people talk about the fetus or the embryo or even mere ‘tissue’ instead.  To get rid of tissue doesn’t seem so bad.  But this is not the way the Bible speaks of the unborn child” (Boice pp. 1209-1210).  Here is one of those places in the Bible where the Bible is still ahead of even modern advances in science, for many in the scientific community are still trying to find at what point the developing child is fully human, and the truth is, there is not one.  There is an uninterrupted development of the child from the very moment of conception.  If there is life, then the spirit or soul of the child is equally present (James 2:26).  Notice how David speaks of his development in his mother’s womb.  He does not refer to “it”, rather he says, “my”, “me”, “my frame”, “I was made in secret”, “my unformed substance”.  David is saying, what was developing in the womb—was me!

139:14  Anyone who has studied the human body must reach the same conclusion.  What does such a statement reveal about the “understanding” of someone who claims that we are the product of chance and mindless evolution?  All of God’s works are wonderful (Genesis 1:31), but the believer senses more than any other part of God’s creation that he is fearfully and wonderfully made.  Are we amazed that we even exist, are we amazed at how well our minds and bodies function?  Do we value the life that God has given to us?  And what am I doing with the body and mind that is fearfully and wonderfully made?  Are we using our minds and bodies for unimportant purposes or grand purposes?  139:15  The word “frame” probably refers to his body.  The expression “depths of the earth” is a metaphor for the deepest concealment, such as the hiddenness of the womb.  The terms “skillfully wrought” or intricately wrought, suggests the complex patterns and colors of the weaver or embroiderer.  In fact the expression “skillfully wrought” means “embroidered”, like a colorful piece of cloth.  “Suggesting his veins and arteries” (Bible Knowledge Comm. p. 892).   139:16  “My unformed substance”:  His unformed substance would be his embryo.  There could be no stronger statement concerning the sanctity and dignity of the unborn child than is given in this verse and context.   139:16  “The days that were ordained for me”:  This does not mean that David’s life was predestined or written in stone, because David did sin and obviously God did not plan that event (2 Samuel 11).  Kidner notes that this verse can mean that David’s development in the womb and outside the womb was all pre-programmed.  That is, his embryonic members were likewise planned and known before the many stages of their development.  “A powerful reminder of the value He sets on us, even as embryos” (p. 466). 

139:17-18  In these two verses David reflects on the abundance of God’s thoughts toward him.  Such a powerful God actually thinks about me!  Such a God actually cares about me!  In the Bible we learn the depth of such concern and love (John 3:16).   God did not merely create us and then let us go, God is always thinking about you and me!  Every moment God is looking at me, every moment God is hoping that I would do what is right, in every given situation God is pulling for me—wow!  God’s thoughts concerning me far outnumber even the individual grains of sand on the seashore.   Even when David wakes up after a nap or a night’s sleep, God is still watching over him.  He may have lost consciousness of God in sleep, but God never lost consciousness of him.  When you remember that God thinks about you every moment—is that thought “precious to you”? “Such divine knowledge is not only wonderful but precious, since it carries its own proof of infinite commitment:  God will not leave the work of His own hands, either to chance or to ultimate extinction” (Kidner p. 466).