God’s Perfect Presence

The Lord is present already in the year ahead of us.

This is one of the central truths of Psalm 139. Here, David meditates on God’s attributes. The psalm divides neatly into four stanzas of six verses each.

In the first stanza, David stands in awe of God’s complete knowledge of all things. But David’s words are more devotional than academic. He is not reflecting on God’s knowledge in the abstract, but God’s knowledge of him.

In keeping with this personal tone, I want you to know that God knows you. He knows your very thoughts (v. 2), and the words that you will speak, even before you say them (v. 4). This knowledge is greater than we can ever fathom (v. 6).

In the second stanza, David marvels at God’s inescapable presence. Truly, there is nowhere to which you might go where God would be absent. David poetically runs from heaven to hell, from east to west, and confesses that in all places, God is there.

The third stanza gives us the foundation for God’s perfect knowledge and pervasive presence. God is the Creator of all things. In David’s poem, he stresses God’s purposeful creation of him. God knit David together in the womb of his mother.

Holding the entire poem together is verse 16: “Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”

The reason that God knows everything David does, and everything we do, is that he is the Creator. The reason that God is present always and everywhere with us is that he is the Creator. God made you, and that means more than your physical being. God has planned your life.

David’s analogy works like this: God is the author of creation. Creation is his book. His book is created, quite literally, by his words. We know that in the book of Genesis, God creates all things by speaking.

A human author of a book simultaneously is not part of his book while also being fully present in every part of his book. This is the kind of analogy that David is presenting for us. Because God has written all our days even before we have lived them, he knows all about us. Because God has written all our days, he is fully present in them. Nothing escapes his attention.

For some people, these truths about God are terrifying. Indeed, even for those of us who love God, the idea that he is always aware of each detail of our lives is intimidating. We are driven, like Adam in the Garden, to seek to hide from God. We must not hide from God, but invite his searching gaze, seeking forgiveness for our sins in Jesus Christ.

For those of us who love God, his unbreakable, unshakable presence with us, even in these uncertain days, is the source of all our comfort. Because a good God has written all our days, even when we are most perplexed, we can trust him.