Psalm 139


It’s argued by some that this psalm is one of the greatest Psalms ever written by David, it was written for the director of music, which implies it was to be sung. It’s a Psalm which brings much comfort to the Christian, especially when they feel alone or abandoned.

The main focus of the Psalm is to remind us of the fact that God is omniscient, that is, all-knowing, and God is omnipresent, that is, He is everywhere. In other words, David is reminding us that God is in total control of everything.

Have you ever had moments where you feel like you’ve been abandoned by God? This Psalm reminds us that God is always with His people, no matter where they are or where they go.


‘For the director of music. Of David. A psalm.’

Although the headings aren’t inspired by God, they are important because they give us some understanding of the Psalm and they help us to see why it was written. The headings usually tell us four things.

1. Who wrote them, probably wrote them or possibly wrote them.

2. Information about the historical background to the Psalm. Why it was written.

3. They tell us of the tune the Psalm was written to.

4. How it was used.

The heading tells us that this psalm of David is for the director of music. Some commentators believe that the ‘director of music’ is God Himself and others believe that it is a song leader who led choirs or musicians, 1 Chronicles 6:33 / 1 Chronicles 16:17 / 1 Chronicles 25:6. Psalms 138-145 are all accredited to David.

God Is Omniscient

‘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. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.’ Psalm 139:1-6

David begins by reminding us that God is omniscient, that is, God knows everything and notice how personally God know each of us, David uses words like, ‘me’, ‘I’, and ‘my’.

God knows everything about us, Matthew 10:20, He knows our inner thoughts, our motives, and our words, even before they are spoken, and He knows where we are at all times.

There’s not a place in heaven or earth where we can hide our thoughts and deeds from the Lord, He knows everything. Even before we think about our thoughts, He already knows what we’re going to think.

When we speak, God is well aware of the reasons and motives behind our words. When we try to understand God, it’s too wonderful for us, it’s way beyond our human comprehension.

There’s no way we can understand God’s omniscience, there’s no way we can understand how God knows everything. We just can’t get our heads around God because His infinite knowledge goes beyond any human comprehension, Isaiah 55:8-9.

God Is Omnipresent

‘Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,’ even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.’ Psalm 139:7-12

David continues with his psalm and here he reminds us that God is omnipresent, that is, God is everywhere at all times. He refers to the Spirit because it was the Spirit who created us, Psalm 104:30 / John 4:24.

David says if he goes up to the heavens, God is there, if he makes his bed in the depths, God is there. Some translations have the word, ‘Sheol’ which simply means the grave. In other words, even in death, God is still present.

The words, ‘rise on the wings of the dawn’ and the words, ‘settle on the far side of the sea,’ are poetic in nature and are used to define opposite directions, Psalm 103:12.

David knows that even if he rises on the wings of the dawn or settles on the far side of the sea because God is there, he knows that God’s hand will still guide him, God’s right hand will still hold him fast, Psalm 118:15-16.

Many people think that what they do in the darkness goes unnoticed, but once again, we’re reminded that God is there, Romans 13:12 / Ephesians 5:11. In ancient times light was typically associated with divine presence, Numbers 6:25-26, while darkness was associated with chaos and death.

David suggests that if he were in the darkness, the place of chaos and death, the place that is absent of light, then perhaps finally he would find a place apart from God.

However, David quickly recognises the fault in his own logic, because he knows that even in the darkest of places, are not dark to God. The darkness quickly ceases to be dark because of the radiant light of God, John 8:12. His very presence casts out all darkness, John 1:5.

Coffman in his commentary shares a funny story about an old fashioned teacher, who was an atheist. He wrote on the blackboard, the words, ‘God is nowhere!’ but a little primary school child stood up and walked over to the blackboard and made an adjustment to his words, which now read, ‘God is now here!’ She told the teacher, he forgot to put in a space and teacher was left speechless.

As a child, I used to love playing hide and seek, and we would sometimes hide for hours waiting to be found. Let me ask you, who invented the game hide and seek?

When Adam and Eve sinned in the garden and God called the man and asked, ‘where are you?’, Genesis 3:9, Adam said, ‘I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.’ Genesis 3:10.

When we look at our world today, many people still try and hide from God, they use drugs, alcohol and work, and they use anything to help them think that God doesn’t notice them or what they are doing.

God Is Our Creator

‘For you created my inmost being, you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful; I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.’ Psalm 139:13-16

David reminds us that God isn’t only omniscient and omnipresent, but God is also our Creator. It’s so easy to think that God is so big and awesome, that He knows everything and is everywhere at the same time, and when we do we may end up thinking that He doesn’t know every little detail about us.

David tells us that God knows how we were created because God is the one who created us in the first place. In fact, He knew each and every one of us even before we were being formed in our mother’s womb, Jeremiah 1:5.

James Watson and Francis Crick are accredited with discovering human D.N.A. and when we think of the trillions of cells we have in our bodies, it’s simply mind-blowing.

We are ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’ by God and because we can never fully understand the process by which a human being is developed from a fertilized egg in the womb of a woman, we are left in awe of God.

When David refers to ‘the secret place’ and the ‘the depths of the earth’, he’s referring to the darkness of the womb. God knows exactly what we’re going to look like even before we are formed.

David says his days were preordained by God and visible to Him long before they had actual existence. This isn’t predestination, where people have no choice. We must remember that God can foresee without predestining something to happen, this is called free will.

It’s helpful to remind ourselves that we are not here by accident and we must remind ourselves that we are not here by chance. Just as it is God’s will for us to be born, it’s also God’s will that we die, Hebrews 9:27.

God Knows Me Better Than I Know Myself

‘How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand—when I awake, I am still with you. If only you, God, would slay the wicked! Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty! They speak of you with evil intent; your adversaries misuse your name. Do I not hate those who hate you, LORD, and abhor those who are in rebellion against you? I have nothing but hatred for them; I count them my enemies. 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 139:17-24

David reminds us that God isn’t only omniscient, omnipresent, and our Creator, but he also reminds us of God’s knowledge. David now moves from thinking about his own thoughts about God, to how much God knows about him.

He isn’t interested in what others think about him, He’s only interested in what God thinks about him, 1 Corinthians 4:3-4. God’s knowledge is so vast, that it can’t even begin to be counted, try going to the beach and count the number of sand grains there are!

David says it makes no difference if he wakes up after a good night’s sleep, God’s presence and His knowledge are still present. God protects His people by delivering from the hands of their enemies, which often results in the destruction of our enemies.

The wicked are described as being bloodthirsty, having evil intent and misusing the Lord’s Name. The wicked are described as being God-haters, rebellious and enemies of God.

Our attitude towards the wicked should be the same as God’s attitude towards the wicked, we should love the sinner but hate the sin, John 3:16 / Revelation 2:6 / John 8:10-11.

After listing the behaviour of the wicked, it’s no wonder David asks God to search his heart. David knows that if he behaved in any way like the wicked described here, then he has to admit, that he is an enemy of God himself.

David is pleading with God to deliver him from the dangers of committing some sin that he isn’t aware of, Leviticus 4:2 / Leviticus 4:13 / Leviticus 4:22 / Leviticus 4:27 / Leviticus 5:1-6. We must admit we’re all sinners, Romans 3:23 / 1 John 1:5-10.

David wants God to examine him so that God can help him remove any sin he’s committing that he’s not aware of, he asks God to test him, this is God’s way of helping us grow, James 1:2-3, and he also asks God to ‘lead him in the way everlasting’, that is in God’s ways, Psalm 1:1-6 / Psalm 27:11.


We’ve been reminded that God is omniscient, omnipresent, our Creator, and His knowledge is vast and those thoughts just leave us in awe of God. They also give us a great sense of comfort, knowing that we’re never on our own or abandoned by God, Hebrews 13:5.

Most of us, if we have a health problem will quickly go to the doctors for an examination and sometimes we go for a routine check-up because it’s important for our physical health.

But if having a routine check-up is important for our physical health, how much more important is having a routine spiritual check-up?

When was the last time you went to God for a spiritual check-up? When was the last time you asked God to perform spiritual heart surgery on you? When was the last time you asked God to remove anything from your life which shouldn’t be there? Galatians 5:19-21 / Colossians 3:8-9.

Go To Psalm 140