Saturday, September 13, 2014

What to know about God from Psalm 139

Psalm 139:1-5 O Lord, You have searched me and known me.2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. 3 You scrutinize my path and my lying down, And are intimately acquainted with all my ways. 4 Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O Lord, You know it all.

What kind of God God is
Today's post features one of the most magnificent Psalms in the Book of Psalms - Psalm 139. This Psalm in and of itself presents the major characteristics of God's very essence and being. Today's post is not about presenting a bunch of information. Rather the goal is to show the reader from this Psalm what kind of God God is and to demonstrate what there is to know about God from this Psalm, so as to affect transformation

1. God is One Lord that knows everything. Psalm 139:1-6
God's ability to know all things is referred to by Bible teachers as His "omni-science". The most wonderful thing about getting to know God is to find out that He knows me, through and through. Before I was every born, God knew about me in His mind. Every person born into this world in a general sense is shown in scripture to have had a particular ordained time of birth and time of death. (Psalm 90; Hebrews 9:27) In a specific sense, God in His mind knew before hand every believer and saw them as already complete in Christ. (Ephesians 1:1-4;Romans 8:29-31) Having in His imniscience seen every child of God in Christ in eternity, God decided to love them on the basis of His own decision to love them! (Deuteronomy 7:7-8; Ephesians 1:4-5) As the Psalmist says, there is more about God's knowledge that we do not comprehend than we do comprehend. (compare Romans 11:33-36). However, Biblical teachings on such truths reminds us to "let God be God" and "to keep silent on those areas wherein He does not speak" and "to worship Him Who knows all things."

2. God is everywhere. Psalm 139:7-12
God is without a doubt One God. Here in Psalm 139:7-12 we are given insight into the fact that God in regards to identity is not just One Person but Three Persons (Father, Son and Holy Spirit). In other words, God is "One what and three who's). The Person called here in Psalm 139 "God" (the New Testament uniformly refers to this First Person as "The Father") is distinct from a Personage called in Psalm 139:7 "Your Spirit".  The truth of God's plural identity is likened unto a faint outline in the Old Testament and presented in full vivid color in the New Testament. 

Why bring up the Trinity? because God's ability to be everywhere present (i.e omni-present) requires the teaching of the Trinity to ensure we don't mix up the distinction the Bible holds between the Creator and His creation. The Father in Heaven is able to affect everything everywhere because He is sharing the same infinite nature with the Spirit Who represents His presence both in Heaven and on earth. 

3. God is all powerful. Psalm 139:13-16
In the nature of the consistent portrait of God revealed in the Bible, we find that in talking about the plurality of His identity, we once again are brought back to the oneness of His being. All the pronouns for "you" in these verses are singular, demonstrating that the Psalmist here is talking about One God. This One God is all powerful (also called "Omni-potent"). God in His omni-potence has the ability to penetrate time, space and to orchestrate all things. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit share this ability equally and without division.

4. God is all good. Psalm 139:17-22
The Psalmist then says in Psalm 139:17 "How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!How vast is the sum of them!" Here we see the All-goodness of God. Theologians call this God's omni-benevolence. God is the fountain of all goods that we see in creation. To know that God has good intentions towards His creation carries a tone of sadness, since the realm of men spurn what is otherwise God's goodness. 

The Psalmist then makes this curious statement in Psalm 139:21-22 "Do I not hate those who hate You, O Lord?And do I not loathe those who rise up against You? 22 I hate them with the utmost hatred; They have become my enemies." What is meant by the idea of God hating? Why would the Psalmist express himself as "loathing those who rise up against you"? This truth, called God's perfect hatred, describes God's opposition in wrath against what sinners become in their sin, the hurt that is brought about and the attitude expressed in their rebellion against Him. God's hatred is not tinged with a vengeful, manaical bent like human expressions of hatred. 

The closest parallel I can think of to illustrate "perfect hatred" is of how a mother responds to a criminal trying to hurt their child. The mother responds in a form of "perfect hatred" directed at the crime being attempted and the criminal's lack of remorse. We hate what criminals have become and what they do. Such expressions of wrath are right and provide the foundation for retributive justice in our law and criminal justice system. All such expressions are based upon God's justice and wrath against sin, which alone is completely just and completely pure. 

Only God can perfectly distinguish between the person and the act, hating "what they are" while still holding out His redemptive purposes to the person themselves. God's goodness does not cancel out His justice, holiness and wrath against sin. If anything, such attributes highlight the fact that God is a good God. 

5. God is all wise. Psalm 139:23-24
Theologian Charles Hodge defines God wisdom as: "Assigning of proper ends and means to meet such ends". God's dealings with us, situations and time is different from our approach. We deal with things from beginning to end, whereas God deals by working back from things as being completed back to their beginning. God's all-wisdom (also called "omni-sapience") includes the free decisions of creatures, both good and bad, circumstances and history itself. If God were not the all-wise God, then all the other attributes we have discussed in today's post would not be able to function in such perfect harmony as they do in God. 

Closing thoughts:
Psalm 139 gives us one of the finest and most perfect summaries there is about God. Though we can never comprehend God, we can know Him. This is what we can know about God from Psalm 139: All knowing, Everywhere present, All powerful, All good and all wise. 

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