O Lord, you have examined my heart
and know everything about me.
You know when I sit down or stand up.
You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
You see me when I travel
and when I rest at home.
You know everything I do.
You know what I am going to say
even before I say it, Lord.
You go before me and follow me.
You place your hand of blessing on my head.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too great for me to understand!
I can never escape from your Spirit!
I can never get away from your presence!
If I go up to heaven, you are there;
if I go down to the grave, you are there.
If I ride the wings of the morning,
if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
even there your hand will guide me,
and your strength will support me.
I could ask the darkness to hide me
and the light around me to become night—
but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.
To you the night shines as bright as day.
Darkness and light are the same to you.
You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed.
How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.
They cannot be numbered!
I can’t even count them;
they outnumber the grains of sand!
And when I wake up,
you are still with me!
O God, if only you would destroy the wicked!
Get out of my life, you murderers!
They blaspheme you;
your enemies misuse your name.
O Lord, shouldn’t I hate those who hate you?
Shouldn’t I despise those who oppose you?
Yes, I hate them with total hatred,
for your enemies are my enemies.
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
Point out anything in me that offends you,
and lead me along the path of everlasting life.
Psalm 139, New Living Translation
For many years, I lived on the far side of the sea, on an island in the South Pacific, and I loved Psalm 139 first this way:
God’s Love is present everywhere on earth.
Even the places that are strange and scary and new to me–they all belong to Love, and Love has known them since the dawn of time.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there Love holds me safe.
I may be new to this corner of Earth, but Love is everlastingly present: behind and before me, no matter where I go.
In recent years, I’ve started loving Psalm 139 a second way:
God’s Love is present in my faith journey.
The places that are strange and scary and new to me–the doubts, the questions, the shifts of nuance and meaning–there’s nothing to fear, because God’s Love contains them all.
The thoughts that are new to me? God knew them first.
And no matter how many thoughts I have about God, he’s had millions more about me.
And not frustrated, angry, send-you-to-hell thoughts.
Before I was born, Love saw and knew and blessed me.
So I’m pretty sure Love is not going to leave me now, no matter how many questions I have on this faith journey.
And when the pain and suffering of the world seems too much to bear some days, I’m loving Psalm 139 this third way:
Love goes with me into the deepest pain, and Loves me there.
The darkness inside me is light to Love, and there’s no lonely place that Love can’t be.
And Love is not just with me when I’m feeling so holy and perfect that I can’t stand myself.
Love is present in the sorrow and grief.
Love is present in the anxiety and fear.
Love is present in the anger and frustration, too.
Love loves me in all those deep places of the heart, even when other people can’t.
Wherever I go on earth, Love is my home.
Wherever my faith journey takes me, Love is my home.
Whatever I feel, darkness or light, Love is my home.
I can never be outside the presence of Love.
Love is always, always, always my home.