Even when you feel lost in the darkness—when all your senses tell you, “God has abandoned you,” and all your circumstances scream, “All hope is gone!” Even that darkness is not dark to Him, and night is as bright as the day (Ps. 139:11–12). Unlike the Coast Guard, God never needs to call off the search until morning light. You can hide your location on your iPhone from your friends and family, but you cannot hide from God. He knows our physical and spiritual GPS coordinates at all times.
Whatever We Have Become, He Made Us
Like a potter forming the clay, God formed us in our mother’s womb (Ps. 139:13–16). Every part of our being is lovingly put together from our kidneys to our knees, from our heart to our hair, from our eyes to our ankles. Every day of your life is lovingly planned out (Ps. 139:16). Nothing is ad hoc. Nothing is left to chance. God’s creative care extends not just to our good days but to our worst days as well. It covers not only our strengths but also our weaknesses. What comfort this should give us all.
Verse 13 begins with the explanatory word, “For you formed my inward parts.” David is explaining why God will never lose us in the darkness (Ps. 139:11–12). Because God took the trouble to make us, He will take the trouble to care for us. Upstairs in my boys’ bedroom, my son Josiah has several larger LEGO starships that he built. He cares for them. They are his, for it was he who made them. So he takes it personally when his brothers damage them. So it is with God. He takes it personally when people hurt His people (Acts 9:4).
Whatever You Face, He Will Help You
As if the doors of bedlam had burst open, verses 19–22 interrupt the calm of the psalmist’s language. Where on earth (or from hell) did they come? These jarring words probably provide the life context behind David’s song. Wicked men threaten his life (Ps. 139:19b). They hate him, but their real beef is with God (Ps. 139:19a). For this reason alone, David counts them his enemies. If this assumption is correct, David wrote Psalm 139 on an errand to God for deliverance. Yet in prayer, he spends much more time ruminating about his God than he does about his trouble. What he really wants is for God to deliver him from sinful, grievous, anxious thoughts (Ps. 139:23–24). There is a lesson here for us all, I think.
In the 1950s, Communist Romania was a tough place to live. In this officially atheistic country, the government imprisoned tens of thousands of Christians for their faith. Silvia Tarniceriu grew up as a child through those dark days. Although she lived in a Christian home, her teachers at school mocked the very notion of a God, and Silvia wasn’t sure what to think. Her parents were dirt poor, and Silvia, with eight siblings, grew up wearing a terrible amalgam of boy and girl hand-me-downs.
The winters in Romania were bitterly cold. Going to school every day, Sylvia trudged through the snow, shivering in a thin sweater and wearing her big brother’s boots. They were ridiculously oversized for her tiny feet, and she had to pack them with newspaper just to keep them from falling off. Silvia hated this. Secretly, she longed for shoes of her very own.
When she was thirteen years old, she decided to see if God was really there. One night, she got down on her knees and prayed to Him, “God if you are real and you really listen to our prayers, then please would you send me a sweater, a coat, and a pair of shoes, girly brown shoes, with buckles?” She kept her prayer all to herself and waited.
Two months went by and nothing happened. Then one day, Sylvia’s dad returned from work carrying a brown paper parcel. What could it be? Nobody ever sent them parcels. Even more intriguing, the postmark read, “The United States of America.”
Feverish with excitement, Mr. Tarniceriu cut the twine and went to work opening the parcel. He reached in, and out came a sweater, then a beautifully warm duffle coat, and last of all, out came a pair of brown leather, girly shoes, with a brass buckle on either side.
“Whose are these?” her daddy asked, bewildered. As her family rushed to look, Sylvia couldn’t contain herself, “They are mine!” she blurted. Her siblings all stared at her, horrified by such selfishness!
Then she explained how she had prayed two months before for these very items. As she did so, a terrible thought flashed across her mind, “Oh, no,” she thought, “I forgot to tell God my size!”
But when she tried the new clothes on, to her relief, she discovered that they fit perfectly, and Sylvia thought to herself, “I can’t believe it—God knows even my size!”
If there is a word of comfort for us Psalm 139, it is surely this: God knows our size, but He also knows much, much more.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on December 21, 2020.