What you see and what you think you see are not always the same thing. Is this an image of smoke-rings, a bicycle or a piece of post-modern art?
Have you ever thought you knew someone well only to find out they have a very different side to them from that which you have known?
This may be true of ourselves too. We don’t always analyse our own character and behaviour as objectively as we might.
This, according to Psalm 139, is why we need to submit ourselves to the spotlight of God’s loving but frank scrutiny:
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (verses 23, 24)
Fine, but it’s not as simple as that, is it? It’s not as though you have a direct line or interactive web-site to fill in a survey form, get instant feedback. Psalm 13 that we sang a couple of weeks ago (Brian and I loved singing this Steve Bell song for you) still rings in my head. It was all about that frustrating silence from the heavens. How long do we have to wait to get some sort of answer, comfort, guidance or voice on our doubts and dilemmas, let alone a personal report card?
How long, O God, will you turn your face from me?
Who is God anyway?
Lurking behind these apparently conflicting poetic ideas is the question of how personal is your God. Is YHWH a powerful but vague force out there somewhere, a spirit moving upon the face of the waters sweeping silently in grand scale across the vast universe, unconcerned by a Western preoccupation with individualism yet benevolent toward the aggregate fate of a flawed humanity?
Or an intimate and individual God whose eye instantly notices the fall of the sparrow, numbers the hairs of your head, and knows when you sit or stand? And somewhere in the middle is that still small voice of calm.
Maybe like the bike in the water, our perspective will change with the light and times?
Only you can answer that but the god’s-eye view, it would seem from the psalms, is crystal clear and all of the above, yesterday, today, forever. We trust that reflecting on the psalms from week to week — How long? in Psalm 13, You see me in Psalm 139 and many other songs — will somehow clarify the picture.
Bruce has found a nice setting of this psalm by Michael Card and will sing it for us on Sunday 13 July. The response, repeating a couple of bars of the tune after each verse, is:
Search me O God, and know my heart
The lower line is a plain pedal note on g that you can sing in harmony if the upper note is too high.
And if you got this far and are still interested…
Just one more thought on hearing that elusive Voice: in last week’s post on Psalm 119 about the Word of God we saw:
Through your precepts I get understanding (v 104)
And I particularly liked the internalising interpretation in the response:
Mindful of your truth inside me
As to the bike it’s real, visible through the cold waters of Lake Luzern from the long 15th century wooden foot-bridge over the lake.
Just as the image is confused and masked by the waters, so we cannot know its story. Did age and infirmity or a nasty slide on gravel justify this watery grave? Was it thrown in anger, vengeance, or frivolous or drunken caper?
The Psalms tell us that Divine omniscience has all this covered — but is often silent: waiting, busy on another line but your call is important, distant, leaving it to us to sort, time not yet come?
Do we need to know?
In any event, somehow music will enrich and catalyse the whole process.
Where, O where would we be without it?
2 thoughts on “Psalm 139, 20 July 2014”