The Wonder of God's Presence
The Wonder of God’s Presence
“O Lord, you have searched me and known me.”
When we think of God, even though we affirm his presence, we often think of him as remote and distant. We think of God residing in heaven, in some far corner of space unreached by man’s telescope. Because we are spatially limited, we think of God also as one who is also spatially limited—just bigger. So we struggle with the idea that god is present at all places at all times in every nook and cranny of the universe. The Idea of God’s omnipresence (that he is in all places, at all times, in all his glory) is difficult for us to grasp.
When we go through times of difficulty and trials, we feel the absence of God more than his presence. God seems far removed and even inattentive to our needs and the crisis we face. Job expressed this feeling when he was going through his deep depression. In Job 23:8-9 he searches for God but cannot find him. He struggles because God seems absent and disengaged with the trials he is facing. For Job, God is not just distant from him, but he is hiding from him!
In Psalm 139, we are reminded of the omnipresence of God. But the omnipresence is more than some theological theory discussed in the temple halls when the people engage in theological discussions. It is much more personal. For David, it is not just a statement about the character of God. The presence of God is personal, assuring us that God is personally engaged in our life.
The Psalm begins with the awareness of God's omnipresence that God is beside us and knows everything about our life. There is not a detail or event that happens in us that God is not fully cognizant of. He knows when we sit down in a chair to watch TV and stand up to do some insignificant errand (2). He knows every thought we think, from the idle doodling of the mind to the deep reflection when faced with an overwhelming crisis (2). He even knows that pathway of our life. He knows the direction that we are going in our lives, from our plans for tomorrow to the far reaches of our dreams and aspirations (3). He knows every word we say and every thought we think (4). He is always present in his total being in every location in the universe, from the heights of heaven to the very depths of hell itself (8). He is present in the joys of life; he is also present when we are going through the most challenging trial, and life turns dark and foreboding (vs. 11-12).
Yet when we speak of omnipresence (God is all-present) and omniscient (God is all-knowing), these truths give us the assurance of God’s personal involvement in our life. God's active participation began at the moment of our conception as he began to form and shape our personalities, talents, and abilities. Even before birth, God knows every circumstance we will face today and tomorrow (vs. 16). He is personally involved in our lives from conception to the moment we take our last breath (13-16). When we were in our mother’s womb, we were not just a blob of tissue to God; we were a distinct person, formed in his image, who had his complete attention.
Reflecting on these truths leads the Psalmist to a statement of wonder and praise. While God knows every detail of us, we struggle to fully grasp him (vs. 17-18). The question that the psalmist then leads us is this: If God knows us and gives us his complete attention, how much do we give God our full attention? Do we make him the object of our attention and thought (vs. 23-24)?