A Reflection on Psalm 139:13-24

13For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
15 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.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
    they would outnumber the grains of sand—
    when I awake, I am still with you.

19 If only you, God, would slay the wicked!
    Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty!
20 They speak of you with evil intent;
    your adversaries misuse your name.
21 Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord,
    and abhor those who are in rebellion against you?
22 I have nothing but hatred for them;
    I count them my enemies.
23 Search me, God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting.

In Part 1 we learned an important truth that God knows us personally, and if you are a child of God you can rest assured God knows everything about you.  For some, this can actually be a fearful thought that someone knows the good, bad, and ugly about them.  However, in Psalm 139:13-24 David responds with praise and submission to God for His perfect knowledge.  

Respond with Praise to God (vv.13-18) 

We become worshipers when we recognize how great God is. It seems to be a fitting response from a human perspective contemplating the eternal God that one would respond with Praise. Indeed, David responds with praise in verses 13-18. David uses this wonderful illustration of God’s creative power in making man to illustrate God’s great knowledge. These verses are some of my favorites in the Scripture. Within these verses we see that God made us perfectly and precisely. 

He is the one who made you and wired you as you are, and so therefore He can know you so perfectly. because He made you for Himself. He didn’t make you cheaply or for anyone else, but primarily made you for himself.  So since He made us we have such a potential to have a relationship with him. Here are some comments on these incredible verses to meditate on.

“Inward parts” – literally your kidneys: meaning those things deep within us that no one sees, our emotions, humor, intellect none of us are the same! This makes the church unique, but God has made us this way. 

“Frame” – your bones, your skeletons, your size – God made you exactly as you are and has made us physically so that we may live as He designed us to live. 

“Made in secret” – God made us in our mother’s womb.  

“Unformed substance” – what others cannot see in our mother’s womb He can see, and His knowledge was perfect at this point and part of His plan. 

Think of the detail that God took into account when He was making you, and this is so that He can have a close connection with you. 

What a lie evolution is that we sort of evolved out of some goo, that humans have evolved up the evolution ladder to reach where we are today. But the truth we see is that God created you, not out of goo, but rather with great precision. He made you with such precision as if you were the only one He ever made, and He gave all He had to you. 

We see in v.16 that God recorded all the days you and I had to live before we even lived but one. And with precision He recorded all the days of your life – not only the number of days, but how those days are made up. God has numbered the hairs of your head (that is easier for some than others) and He has sovereignly designed every day we live.

We do not need to be surprised that God knows everything about us, because He has formed and fashioned us. This text beautifully illustrates God’s personal involvement in creating us from our emotions as if He knit us together as a one would knit a blanket. From when we were but the smallest of embryo, God knew you before even your parents knew about you. He didn’t stop after forming you in your mother’s womb, but He formed your days. He has a plan for your life because He is sovereign. 

We should be left with nothing but praise and adoration to this great God and say with David, 

“I praise you O’ God for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works… How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!” (v.14,17) 

“How precious to me are your thoughts, O God.” We have all seen the pictures, but yet He knows everything about you. It is amazing that God is thinking on you tonight, and with laser sharp focus no doubt. These thoughts of God are so vast, they would outnumber the sand and when you wake you are still with Him. He has made you who are so that you would have a relationship with Him. 

In verses 19-22 David understands that once one comes to understand that God knows everything about them, that they cannot escape Him, that God formed and fashioned them, that some people may actually respond with hatred toward God. This section can seem to be a detour from the rest of the psalm. It seems maybe the scribes fell asleep or lost their place. 

But the Holy Spirit cannot lead astray. So to David the very thought that someone could hate this God is grounds for him to speak out against them with such striking language. A professor of mine at Reformed Theological Seminary made the analogy that it would be like a man writing to the world about his wife about how amazing she is (men hopefully you would say that!), and as you are writing the thought comes to you of how you would respond if someone spoke maliciously about your wife, or did something mean toward her. If you have a close relationship with God you will stand with Him, and if someone speaks out against your God you will pray for their conversion or ask that they will no longer be a hindrance to Him. 

Is the response of your heart one of awe and praise of God’s perfect knowledge of you or is it one of disdain and hatred? 

Respond Submission to God (23-24; cf v.1) 

In the closing of this wonderful Psalm the Psalmist says, “Search me, O God and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.” Not only should we respond in praise to God for His perfect knowledge but we should respond in submission to God. David petitions and submits for God to continue His search and know. This is interesting because look in v.1. God has already searched and known, but now David is inviting God to probe and explore his heart so that God would reveal to him what is within him. I challenge you to get alone with God and bow yourself before Him in submission and say these words to Him so that He can continue his work in searching and knowing your hearts. In so doing, you may be quite surprised because the indwelling Holy Spirit will convict you of areas in your life that are not honoring to God. He will shine a spotlight into your heart. We need His help because only God is able to search our hearts because we have blind spots and dark spots. But take heart because He knows you well, He knows everything about you, His hand is on you and He will lead you, and He will lead you in the way everlasting! 


Authored by Justin Roper, Pastor at Charlotte Awake