When I was a young girl, still sleeping across the hall from my parents, I had a love affair with my Bible. Every night under the dim light of my clip-on bed lamp I read from my NLT with the black leather cover and the silk ribbon down the middle. I underlined and highlighted and scribbled in the margins all the deep and profound insights that emerged from my teenage mind.
My favourite Psalm to read, one I memorized and recited almost daily, was Psalm 139. On warm summer nights I would sit on my window sill, above the teddy bear border, and say the words into the starry sky. I felt strongly that the love emanating from these words was for me.
The chapter begins like this:
You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. (Psalm 139: 1-4 NIV)
Isn’t that beautiful? A little intimidating too, for those of us who aren’t great at vulnerability. God knows me. He knows everything I do, including the motives — good or bad — of why I do what I do (yikes).
The Psalm continues to describe God’s nearness to us, and how intricately he designed us. Then it ends like this:
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life. (Psalm 139: 23-24 NLT)
When I revisited this Psalm recently I wondered, why did the writer, David, ask God to search him when he started the whole thing by saying that God has already searched him and knows him? These verses seem to contradict themselves. Does God know all there is to know about me, or doesn’t he?
I believe that God does know everything about us and Psalm 139 is a declaration of this truth. God made us, knows us, and loves us — not because we are perfect but because we are His. This is wonderful and life-changing news, but this Psalm is also much more. David awakens us to our longing for intimacy with God, and shows us how to respond to His love. The final words of this Psalm are a prayer of surrender. We surrender to God when we see how precious we are in His eyes. Anything we could imagine for our lives is but a drop compared to the abundance He desires for us.
I’ve used the last verse of this Psalm as a prayer many times, and God does in fact show me things I need to change. Things I may not have noticed otherwise. This “searching” is not done by a scolding, angry God but by a Father who longs to bring me towards a life where I am fully alive in Him. When I think “Oh, so this is what God’s love is like!” He says, But wait, I want to take you even deeper. When I think I’ve tasted all the joy there is to taste, He says, Keep following me, there’s so much more!
Maybe inviting God to search me and know me is inviting Him to show me myself — my beauty and my darkness. He is the only one who knows the depths of both. And He is the only one who can restore me to the perfection He planned for me from the beginning.