For the past few hours, I’ve been thinking about Psalm 139. In my NRSV, it’s prefaced with the heading, “The Inescapable God”. This is a song to the God from whom it is impossible to hide. If you were to put me on national television and ask me my favorite Psalm, I’d probably say Psalm 23. Who wouldn’t? But deep down inside, when the cameras are turned off and it’s just me and my Bible, I like Psalm 139.
It is here, in these 24 verses, that my life is laid bare. I am reminded, when it comes to God, there’s no such thing as attorney/client privilege. God doesn’t need a search warrant, a federal judge, or probable cause to enter my life. Before I am aware of God’s presence, God is already among my papers, emails, files, and sitting at my dining room table. Listen to the Psalmist:
“O Lord you have searched me and known me. You know me when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from far away. You search out my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, you know it completely.”
The data in our Facebook accounts, the emails we’ve yet to write, the goodness in our soul, or the malice in our heart; God’s seen the evidence. Everything we thought was our own, hidden behind passwords, firewalls, and barriers of silence is compromised. God’s got it all. Actively searched and found, the Lord has watched patiently. Sometimes we are seen from afar and at other times from across the room. Psalm 139 tells we are known completely. Yes, this should overwhelm us. If you’re concerned about privacy issues, you will be completely unnerved. Mark Zuckerberg’s reach is nothing compared to God’s.
“Such knowledge,” writes the Psalmist, “is too wonderful for me; it so high that I cannot attain it. Where can I go from your spirit? Or when can I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in Hell, you are there. If I take the wings of the morning and settle at the farthest limits of the sea, even there you right hand shall hold me.”
We cannot outrun or outwit the inescapable God. It is not a witch hunt. It is a you-hunt. God is hunting us. Me, you, and all of us are unable to flee from God’s presence. In heaven or hell, beyond the farthest limits of our definitions of reality or fairness, God will find us and hold us. Why? God is biased. God has a different set of priorities, values, and interests that conflict with our own. Here’s what we forget about Psalm 139: you want God to break into your home, office, and soul. God’s biases will save your life.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
Please God, knock down my doors today. O Lord, break into my life. Take me, my phone, and whatever else you want. Amen.
Richard Lowell Bryant