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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.

7. Whither shall I go from thy Spirit? I consider that David prosecutes the same idea of its being’ impossible that men by any subterfuge should elude the eye of God. By the Spirit of God we are not here, as in several other parts of Scripture, to conceive of his power merely, but his understanding and knowledge. 205205     Some commentators suppose the third person of the Trinity to be here referred to. In man the spirit is the seat of intelligence, and so it is here in reference to God, as is plain from the second part of the sentence, where by the face of God is meant his knowledge or inspection. David means in short that he could not change from one place to another without God seeing him, and following him with his eyes as he moved. They misapply the passage who adduce it as a proof of the immensity of God’s essence; for though it be an undoubted truth that the glory of the Lord fills heaven and earth, this was not at present in the view of the Psalmist, but the truth that God’s eye penetrates heaven and hell, so that, hide in what obscure corner of the world he might, he must be discovered by him. Accordingly he tells us that though he should fly to heaven, or lurk in the lowest abysses, from above or from below all was naked and manifest before God. The wings of the morning, 206206     Or “of the dawn of the morning.” שחר, shachar, the word employed, “is the light which is seen in the clouds before the rising of the sun, and it is like as if it; had wings to fly with haste; for in a moment the dawn of the morning is spread over the horizon, from the end of the east to that of the west.” — Mendlessohn’s Beor. or of Lucifer, is a beautiful metaphor, for when the sun rises on the earth, it transmits its radiance suddenly to all regions of the world, as with the swiftness of flight. The same figure is employed in Malachi 4:2. And the idea is, that though one should fly with the speed of light, he could find no recess where he would be beyond the reach of divine power. For by hand we are to understand power, and the assertion is to the effect that should man attempt to withdraw from the observation of God, it were easy for him to arrest and draw back the fugitive. 207207     Dathe understands thy hand of God’s gracious presence to defend the Psalmist; and such may be the meaning of the words. But whether we take them in this sense, or according to Calvin, as expressing man’s being under the power of God, in whatever part of the world he may be, they illustrate the divine omniscience, which Calvin regards as the chief design of the inspired writer.


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