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139. Psalm 139

O Lord, thou hast searched me, and known me.

2Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off.

3Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.

4For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether.

5Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me.

6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.

7Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?

8If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.

9 If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;

10Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.

11If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me.

12Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.

13For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb.

14I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.

15My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.

16Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.

17How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!

18 If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.

19Surely thou wilt slay the wicked, O God: depart from me therefore, ye bloody men.

20For they speak against thee wickedly, and thine enemies take thy name in vain.

21Do not I hate them, O Lord, that hate thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee?

22I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies.

23Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:

24And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

11. If I shall say, etc. David represents himself as a man using every possible method to make his escape from a situation of embarrassment. So having acknowledged that it was vain to dream of flight, he bethinks himself of another remedy, and says, If no speed of mine can bear me out of the range of God’s vision, yet, on the supposition of light being removed, the darkness might cover me, that I might have a short breath of respite. But this also he declares to be hopeless, as God sees equally well in the deepest darkness as at noon-day. It is a mistake in my opinion to consider, as some have done, that the two clauses of the verse are to be taken separately, and read, If I shall say the darkness will cover me, even the night shall be as light before me — meaning that darkness would be converted into light, and so though he saw nothing himself, he would stand manifest before the eye of God. David is rather to be considered as in both clauses expressing what he might be supposed to feel desirous of, and intimates that, could he only find any covert or subterfuge, he would avail himself of the license; 208208     “C’est plustost que David prononcant ee propos selon son propre sentiment, entend que pourveu qu’il puisse estre par quelqne moyen couvert et cache, il aura quelque peu de bon temps,” etc. — Fr. “if I shall say, at least the darkness will cover me, and the night be as light for me,” that is, in the sense in which it is so to the robbers or wild beasts of the forest, who then range at greater liberty. That this is the proper construction of the words we may infer from the particle גם, gam. If any one should ‘think it a very unnecessary observation to say that as respects God there is no difference between light and darkness, it is enough to remind him that all observation proves with what reluctance and extreme difficulty men are brought to come forward openly and ‘unreservedly into God’s presence. In words we all grant that God is omniscient; meanwhile what none would ever think of controverting we secretly make no account of whatsoever, in so far as we make no scruple of mocking God, and lack even that reverence of him which we extend to one of our fellow-creatures. We are ashamed to let men know and witness our delinquencies; but we are as indifferent to what God may think of us, as if our sins were covered and veiled from his inspection. This infatuation if not sharply reproved will soon change light, so far as we are concerned, into darkness, and therefore David insists upon the subject at length in order to refute our false apprehensions. Be it our concern to apply the reproofs given, and stir ourselves up by them, when we feel disposed to become secure.


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