Today, most of the message is going to be a review of much of Psalm 139. We are going
to review that Psalm, which was written by David in the Old Testament, for the purpose
of reminding ourselves of the ability we have for confidence. Confidence we should have
personally. Psalm 139 gives us reason after reason after reason we can be confident.
They all relate to how God made us and how well He knows us. Confidence we should
help build in one another, which is a challenge that will be given toward the end of this
For today, much of Psalm 139, which begins with the information it was written to “the
choirmaster.” I do not really know the significance of that information, except to
suggest that what is proclaimed in the Psalm was to be sung, not only by David, but by
others as well. It was to be sung so others in the congregation of God’s people would
hear reasons for them to be confident.
“To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David. O LORD [o God], Thou hast searched me and
known me!” Because of that - because Your searching and knowledge are so thorough -
“Thou knowest everything about me, [including] when I sit down and when I rise up.”
And it is not only what I am doing that is known. “Thou discernest my thoughts from
afar.” You know what I am thinking.
And it is not only what I am doing and thinking now. “Thou searchest out my path and
my lying down.” Where I am going to walk and when I am going to rest from my
walking. “And [Thou] art acquainted with all my ways.”
And it is not only where and when I am going to be and think. Even my words - the
words I am going to say in the future - even they are known. “Even before a word is on
my tongue, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether.”
By the way, do you notice in this first part of Psalm 139 the words, me, I, and my? Those
words are found throughout the Psalm, but what important words they are. As in me
personally. And yes, the LORD is our God, but He is my God, too. He knows me
Right from the start, there is reason given for confidence - for spiritual confidence - for
the confidence needed to obey and serve God. It is that God knows us.
You know, I sometimes wonder who am I in the world. In fact, as I prepared to go to the
Church of God Global Gathering last month, I was concerned because while I am kind of
known in the state Church of God work and somewhat known in the work of the North
Central Region of the Church of God, I wondered if, when I got to Anderson, Indiana,
for the Global Gathering, it would be like, “George Who from Where?”
Interestingly, I knew more people there than I thought I would. And hey, I was far from
important there, but there were some state people and some regional people and some
missionary people and some Church Ministry people I knew. So what I was concerned
about never materialized. And even those I did not know were friendly, as I tried to be
But you know what? Even if I had known nobody and even if the reaction I had faced
had been George Who from Where, so what? I am known by God, who has taken the
time and the effort to search me and know me. As we will get to a bit later, He has done
that always and forever, but the words me, I, and my are critical. He knows each one of
us, not only corporately, but personally.
And yes, as we have read, it is everything about us He knows, including our movements,
our thoughts, the paths we are going to take, the words we are going to say, all of that
when we are with people and when we are by ourselves.
You know, being aware of God’s knowledge of us can be a scary thing. But it is not
meant to be scary. God’s knowledge of us is supposed to build confidence in us.
Confidence also based on what is written in verse 5. “Thou dost beset me behind and
before, and layest Thy hand upon me.”
Isn’t that a wonderful verse? God sets Himself behind us to protect us from what is
behind us physically or in the past, and to encourage us and push us to keep us moving
along the paths He wants us to be on - paths of righteousness, of accepting Him and
worshiping Him and serving Him through this life all the way to Heaven.
Paths we can know because He is also before us, leading us and guiding us.
Paths we can stay on because He has His hand upon - see the word - He has His hand
upon me, which is a promise for each of His people.
David wrote in verse 6, “such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot
attain it [or understand it or comprehend it]. And that is true, is it not? I mean, I have
trouble grasping how God can be powerful enough to know everything there is to know
about everyone. I have trouble grasping why He would want to know everything about
everyone. Why, for instance, after searching me and finding out what I am really like,
He would want to know me. He has every right to ignore any one of us. Looking at it
logically, He, in His perfection, should ignore each one of us. But He does not ignore us.
He knows us. Everything about us. Yes, that is a high and amazing thought.
Then, beginning in verse 7, David continues to proclaim God’s knowledge of me - of us
individually and personally. In verse 7, David asks a couple questions. In the verses
after that, he answers the questions.
“Whither shall I go from Thy Spirit? Or whither shall I flee from Thy presence?”
“If I ascend to Heaven, Thou art there.” We know that is true. Heaven is God’s home.
“If I make my bed in Sheol.” There are a few ideas of what that refers to. Some say
Sheol is a place where the dead are held until the final judgment. Others say it is Hell,
which of course in the opposite of Heaven. Still others say David was referring to the
center of the earth.
Whatever Sheol refers to, “Thou art there,” wrote David, the point being that no matter
how low you go in any sense of the word, you can never get away from God.
“If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea.” The first
of those phrases refers to going off in the direction of the sun rise, which is toward the
east, or in the directions sun rays go, which is to the north and south and west. The
second phrase refers to being on some remote island somewhere. There can I be away
from God? No. “Even there Thy hand shall lead me.”
And look. “And Thy right hand shall hold me.”
There are a couple points of significance in those few words. God’s right hand is the
hand of salvation, so His purpose of knowing me and staying with me is to save me.
That purpose is also the meaning of His right hand holding me.
Which brings to my mind Jonah in the Old Testament.
Remember Jonah? He was told by God to go preach to the people in the city of Nineveh,
warning them they were to be destroyed by God because of their wickedness.
Jonah did not want to do what God told him to do. He was afraid of the Ninevites, and
he did not think they deserved to be warned.
Because he did not want to obey God, Jonah fled. He did that by getting on a ship that
was sailing the opposite direction from Nineveh.
Remember? During a great storm - a storm God caused to halt Jonah’s escape - a great
storm somewhere in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea - Jonah was thrown
overboard, which should have resulted in his death.
But, as it is worded, “God appointed a big fish to swallow up Jonah,” which was an
example of God’s right hand being on Jonah to save him from the sea.
For three days, the big fish held Jonah, which gave him a chance to pray, which God
answered by having the fish vomit Jonah back on land.
Jonah found out he could not get away from God. Even though he tried to get away,
God protected him. That is the promise God has for me, too. And for you, as well.
And again, some take that as a negative thought. Those who want to get away from God
take the promise negatively. But it is supposed to be a positive thing. A proclamation
that even when we are having problems - when we are somewhere away from our
comfort zones - He is there. As written earlier, He is behind us to protect us and
encourage us, before us to lead us and guide us, holding us with His right hand of
And yes, that is true, even when things seem the darkest. Verses 11 and 12. “If I say, let
only darkness cover me [which could be expanded to hoping for darkness, as in wanting
darkness to hide from God] and if we say, let the light about me be night, even then [we
cannot escape God or be separated from Him] for even the darkness is not dark to Thee,
the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with Thee.”
God has searched me, and He knows everything there is to know about me. And about
you. Everything we do. Everything we are. Everything we say. Everything we think.
He knows it all.
And this is not recent knowledge. It has gone on from the moment each of us was
conceived. Verse 13. “For Thou didst form my inward parts, Thou didst knit me
together in my mother's womb.”
And He searched us and knew us even before that. Verses 15 and 16. “My frame was not
hidden from Thee, when I was being made in secret, intricately wrought in the depths of
the earth. Thy eyes beheld my unformed substance. In Thy book were written, every
one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”
And as mentioned earlier, His interest in us continues. It did not and does not stop,
even though every one of us, at some time or other, has been or is unworthy of His
attention. God still thinks of us. Verses 17 and 18. “How precious to me are Thy
thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, I could not.
They are more than the sand. When I awake [wherever I am when I wake], I am still
Therefore - verse 14 - “I praise Thee.” What a reminder that God’s searching,
knowledge, and presence are positive things. “I praise Thee, for Thou art fearful and
wonderful. Wonderful are Thy works! Thank You that Thou knowest me right well.”
Interestingly, David, beginning with verse 19, switches away from positive praising to a
reminder of what happens to sinners. To those who refuse to accept the fact that God
knows where we are and what we are doing and thinking and saying. Those who refuse
to have any of that affect them positively. David in essence asked God to destroy those
who do not follow God. He promised to not associate with or fellowship with people
who did not honor and obey God.
However, David wanted to make sure he was not among the sinners. So he ended Psalm
139 with a plea.
Verse 23. “Search me, o God, and know my heart!” And yes, God already had searched
David. God already knew him. Everything about him. But David wanted that to
continue. David wanted the closeness with God that is implied in the Psalm to continue.
So “try me [test me] and know my thoughts!” Which again, God already knew. But keep
knowing me. That was David’s plea.
And - verse 24 - if, in the searching and knowing and testing, there happened to be any
wicked way found - “if there be any wicked way in me, lead me [be before me, grab hold
of me with Your right hand, God] “in the way everlasting!” That way I can know Your
blessings now and make it to Heaven when the blessings of this life are over.
As stated at the beginning of this message, the purpose of reviewing Psalm 139 is to
provide the reminder that we have many, many reasons to have confidence. The
reasons being that God, who created us, cares so much for us that He has and continues
to search us and know us, that He has and continues to be behind us and before us, and
that He has and continues to offer His right hand to lead us and save us.
And yes, our confidence can be a constant thing because He searches and knows and is
with us to lead us and guide us wherever we happen to be.
Which should lead us into the challenge to take advantage of His presence and His help.
To take advantage as we display our appreciation for what He has done and does do for
us. As we display our appreciation by having the spiritual confidence to know that
whatever He calls us to do, He is and will be there to continue to guide and help and
And by the way, this refers to anything and everything He calls us to do. It may or may
not be preaching. It may or may not be singing or teaching. It may or not be praying
out loud in front of people. It may or may not be any of a number of things that are
ways for us to serve others in the name of the Lord.
Is God calling you to anything that will serve Him? If so, take the call. Take on the task,
doing so with confidence, knowing from Psalm 139 that how God has made you is
special, that how He is calling you is how He will lead you, that He is wherever you are,
and that as long as you are following Him, He is with you, encouraging, protecting,
God already has and He will continue to empower you to do what He calls you to do.
And guess what. He wants the rest of us to join Him in encouraging His people to be
confident as they serve Him. Which leads to a story that has a scary part, a couple sad
parts, and then a happy part to it.
Here is the story, beginning with the scary part, Scary for me anyway since some
medical issues interfered with me learning how to swim.
The story begins with this. Picture 250 8- to 10-year-old boys in swimming trunks
standing in a line by the waterfront the first day of a two-week-long summer camp.
They are all lined up to take the mandatory swimming test.
The test is simple. Walk to the end of a pier, jump into the water, and swim the 25 yards
to the next pier.
Each swimmer who made it to the next pier with no trouble was given a fishing line
necklace to wear. A necklace with a big green bead on it. It indicated that boy could
swim anywhere he wanted for the two weeks.
Those who made it to the next pier, but had some trouble doing so, were given
necklaces, each with a big yellow bead, which indicated there were some restrictions
concerning where those boys could swim.
Any boy who barely made it to the other pier was given a necklace with a red bead. That
put some serious restrictions on where he could swim.
There were about a dozen of the boys who could not make it to the next pier. And here
is the first sad part of the story. The first part was scary. At least it would have been for
me since I would have known ahead of time I could not have made it to the other pier.
Here is a sad part of the story. The boys who could not swim the 25 yards to the next
pier were also each given a necklace to wear. But it had on it a small lead weight. Which
caused those boys to be called the sinkers.
There were chances for any of the lower classes of swimmers to improve, but throughout
the camp, those with the green beads made sure their necklaces were worn outside their
shirts - shirts they wore for other camp activities. Many of the yellow- and red-beaded
boys, at least when they were around the sinkers, made sure their necklaces were
showing. It was only the lead-weight boys who made sure their necklaces were inside
Well, for the rest of the camp, there were swimming lessons each morning. The lessons
had the boys grouped together according to their skill level. There were many
opportunities for any of the boys in each of the lower levels to move up.
But as the author of the story, who just happened to be the teacher for the lead-weight
boys, writes, those lesson times were not much fun for the sinkers. And here is the
second sad part of the story. When the teacher - the swimming instructor - said, “You
are going to make it to that other pier, and when you do, you are going to grab hold of
your fishing line, rip it off your neck, and throw it as far as you can,” one boy said, “But
we can’t swim.” And another said, “My dad told me I’m too skinny to swim.” And
another said, “My mom said I’m too young to swim.” And another said, “My older
brother says I’m too dumb to swim.”
Wow. Isn’t that sad? It almost brought a tear to my eye as I read the story the first time.
And leaving the story for just a bit and applying it to what we are talking about in this
message, will we be careful to not discourage people based on our perceptions of what
someone needs to do or be to serve the Lord?
And hey, there may be times when people do need to be counseled away from one kind
of serving and toward another. But to make comments about size of body or age or
intelligence? Or to allow anyone to think there is nothing he or she can do? That is
wrong, especially based on Psalm 139, which reminds us God is the one who made each
one of us.
Back to the story. The swimming instructor answered each one those comments with,
“What do they know?” He then went about teaching them how to swim.
And listen to how he did so.
He first had them play in the shallow water so they would become comfortable with the
water. Then he taught them to float on their backs. He would suggest to them that if
they could float long enough, maybe a good breeze from the right direction would push
them to the other pier. That was a light-hearted way to ease the teaching.
Then he had them start moving their hands like paddles while they were floating on
their backs. When the boys discovered they were moving, the instructor could see their
imaginations beginning to formulate the ripping off of the lead-weight necklaces and
getting them replaced with red bead necklaces.
He would then have them float on their stomachs and learn a few basic strokes.
Then, one by one, he had the boys try to make it from the one pier to the other. This is
the happy part, but it also has a wonderful lesson for us who ought to encourage others.
As each boy started swimming - slowly at first - nothing wrong with that - the instructor
was next to him, cheering him on.
And guess what. The boys on the other pier - the ones with the colored beads - were no
longer making fun. They were shouting their encouragement for each of the boys to
have the confidence he could make it. It was like those boys were watching an Olympic
Each time one of the little guys made it, he climbed out of the water and, as the author
puts it, with fire burning in his eyes, he would rip the sinker off his neck and throw it
into the lake as far as he could. Each one did that with confidence.
Is God calling you to do something? First of all, make sure it is God who is doing the
But when He is, know He is calling you from a total knowledge of you. As proclaimed in
Psalm 139, He knows who you are and what you are and where you are.
Also know He is where you are. He is behind you and before you and with you, and has
His hand - His right hand - on you.
And yes, what He calls you to do may be scary. maybe not, but maybe it is scary. And
maybe, like that one group of boys, you will need to take small steps toward becoming
comfortable doing what He calls you to do. But take them because each step will build
And please - and again, I am not negating the need for some occasional counseling one
way or another - but may each of us endeavor to be encouragers of confidence. May we
cheer each other on as together we continue to display God and help people come to
accept Jesus as Savior and promote spiritual growth in those who believe in the Lord.
Let’s be spiritually confident ourselves - individually and personally - that God knows us
and wants to use us. Let’s help others to be spiritually confident. Let’s be and do both
those things for the glory of God, who so wonderfully made us.
today’s closing song is Cleanse Me. It highlights many of the points made in Psalm 139 -
the searching and testing, the salvation, allowing ourselves to be used by such a great
God. Cleanse Me, verses 1 through 3.
Search me, o God, and know my heart today;
Try me, O Savior, know my thoughts I pray.
See if there be some wicked way in me;
Cleanse me from every sin, and set me free.
I praise Thee, Lord, for cleansing me from sin.
Fulfill Thy Word and make me pure within.
Fill me with fire, where once I burned with shame;
Grant my desire to magnify Thy name.
Lord, take my life, and make it wholly Thine;
Fill my poor heart with Thy great love divine.
Take all my will, my passion, self, and pride;
I now surrender, Lord - in me abide.
Confidence. Spiritual confidence. Lord, that is what we need so we can serve You. And
that is what we can have. Never self-confidence, but Your confidence, built on the fact
You made each one of us. That You made us wonderfully. Built on the fact You know us
individually. That You know everything about us. That You know us personally.
may Your wonder and Your knowledge inspire us to serve You and worship You and
pray to You. and yes, may each of us join You in encouraging others to have spiritual
confidence as well. Help us to work together in that way so that not only individually,
but as a group of Your people, we will be able to further Your Kingdom. Thank You.