When the psalmist asks God to search him (Ps.139) it is interesting to note that he is not afraid of what God might find or ashamed to be exposed to God’s review. He is ecstatic: “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me!” Why?
When I was growing up, this psalm was used to beat us up with shame, to let us know that God was watching all the time whether we wanted Him to or not, and especially when no one else was watching. God’s eye was judgmental and disapproving, looking for some “wicked way” in me. Not surprisingly, I did not want much to do with this psalm.
But in truth, this is a beautiful image of a person who is joyful to be transparent in the light of God’s gaze. He wants to be known and loved by God. Being known is an essential part of life. If no one knows us, we hardly exist at all. And if we are known and loved by the same person at the same time, then we are safe with that person. What if the One who knows us better than anyone actually loves us and wants to be with us?
What’s more, in this amazing poem by David, he wants God to reveal to him what He finds. So that his “hurtful ways” can become “everlasting ways” (NASB). And yet another reason why he feels safe to have God do this for him is that what is dark for David is not dark to God at all (v.12). God knows what to do with all that dark stuff.
So a very natural question might be, what kind of darkness or hurtful way might God find that we are not already aware of? I’m sure there are several answers to that question. But one thing that comes to mind is the idea of those unspoken assumptions we make about life to which we subscribe at some level without even being fully aware of them:
- I’m able to control most of my life by myself.
- I can make things come out right if I’m good enough.
- I can control things well enough to be safe.
- My day-to-day experience is supposed to be smooth and easy.
- My worth comes from the outcome of my efforts and how well I succeed.
- If I try hard, God will like me better.
- My self-indulgence will make me feel better.
- God is not very involved in my life and does not really want to be.
When we invite God’s light into our life and ask Him to expose those hidden ideas we have, we might even be surprised at what we see. But that’s ok. Because God is not there to judge what comes up, He is there to redeem it. We can ask Him to show us what we need in order to move forward, what we need in order to heal from the damage that brought us to such beliefs, or what we need in order to re-vision our life from His perspective. These things are not more areas in which to try hard to do the right things, but places where God can “lead us in the everlasting way.”
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me!