Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

Psalm 139:23-24

 

Psalm 139 begins with David’s acknowledgement that God has “searched” his heart. The Lord knows everything about him (139:1). Nothing about David or his life can be hidden from God, who knows even what David will say before he says it (139:4). If David tried to escape from the Lord, in every place God would be present (139:7-13). In fact, God knew David even in his mother’s womb as he knit him together wonderfully (139:13-16).

These first eighteen verses of Psalm 139 celebrate the Lord’s intimate knowledge of David. Then verse 19 changes the subject abruptly: “If only you, God, would slay the wicked! Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty!” (139:19). It seems as if the memory of those who sought David’s life suddenly interrupted his celebration of God’s presence and filled his heart with hatred for his enemies.

As if that were not enough, Psalm 139 then takes another unexpected turn, concluding with a prayer for the Lord to examine David’s heart: “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (139:23-24).

Perhaps David realized that his hatred had exceeded an appropriate zeal for justice. Or perhaps he remembered that he had also done things that dishonored the Lord. So David invited God to search him and reveal anything offensive. The implied understanding is that David would repent of those sins in order that God might “lead [him] in the way everlasting” (139:24).

I need God to search me in this way. Don’t you? Though a part of me resists dealing with what is wrong in my heart, I know that I need to see my sin as God sees it, so that I might confess and be forgiven, and so that I might turn from my sin to follow the Lord more completely.

How does God reveal our sin to us? In many ways: through reading Scripture, through hearing the Word of God preached, through the loving challenge of friends, and through the still small voice of the Spirit. In asking God to search us, we are inviting him also to open our hearts so that we might receive the conviction of his Spirit. We are saying, “Point out anything in us that offends you, and we will listen to you!”

Something to Think About:

Have there been times in your life when God has revealed things to you that were hard but essential for you to hear?

What helps you attend to the convicting voice of God’s Spirit?

Are you ready for God to point out anything in your life that offends him? What might help you to get ready, if you’re not?

Something to Do:

Read all of Psalm 139 out loud, slowly, as a prayer to God. If you’re in a small group, you might do this corporately as well.

Prayer:

Gracious God, I cannot improve upon the words of Psalm 139. So I make them my own as I pray:

Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

Give me ears to hear all that you want to say to me today. Amen.

Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary:
The Work of Marriage, Raising Children, and Caring for Parents (Psalm 127, 128, 139)