This broadcaster has 586 podcast archives available on-demand.
Keep up-to-date with this broadcaster on social media and their website.
September 6, 2020 8:00 am
Psalm 139 addresses some of the weightiest concepts of theology.
It speaks of the omniscience, omnipresence and omnipotence of our God.
And yet, while the Psalm deals with these profound truths. It's much more than a dries study of doctrine are welcome to the Bible study our radio and Internet broadcast with Dr. James Bortz preparing you to think and act biblically. Psalm 139 is been called theology of the very best sort because it addresses the heart as well as the head Psalm speaks to our emotions as well as our intellect in a wonderfully personal way. Join Dr. Boyce as he explores the Psalm speaks of God's attributes in ways that deeply affected the psalmist and continue to inspire God's people today somewhere in the voluminous writings of JI Packer.
There's a comment about the Puritans goes like this, you said that there theology is theology of that older better, wiser and more practical sort watch true of the Puritans, but it is perhaps even more true of the Psalm were about to study now because here in Psalm 139 is theology that is even older. Even better, even wiser, and as were going to say. Perhaps even more practical. Let's theology of the very best sort we sometimes talk about doing theology today and one of the things we often talk about is the conflict between the head and the heart saying that either one alone is inadequate. If we have a theology that is of the head alone, it tends to become cold, dry barren, and the little practical value the other hand, if we have a theology of the heart alone. It may very well be warm, comforting and practical, but it lacked substance sure will tend to and because it lacks substance. It's often unable to stand up and be strong in the hard times, now Psalm 139 has both head and heart wonderfully theological. It deals with some of the greatest theological concepts of all the omniscience of God. The omnipresence of God the omnipotence of God is probably the weightiest part of the Bible for discussing God's omniscience.
And yet at the same time. It's also wonderfully personal because it speaks of these attributes in ways that impacts the psalmist and that also impact us, Alexander McLaren, one of the great expositors of the previous generation wrote mere omniscience but a knowledge which knows him all together. Not clear omnipresence but a presence which he can nowhere escape, but a mere creative power, but a power which shaped him or what fill and thrill the psalmist soul, not what those reflections mean, of course, is that this Psalm is the very essence of worship because that's what we been talking about here in our studies of these later Psalms it's worth noting in connection with that that the Psalm is dedicated to the director of music obviously for his use in the worship of the temple. Or we can say it another way, although Psalm 139 deals with some of the highest and most important of all theological concepts. The omniscience they omnipresence the omnipotence of God, it nevertheless has it twofold practical application that becomes clear as we got to the end of the song first part is that the writer wants to separate himself from all who deliberately practice evil.
The second application is that he wants God to search them out to know him, go, expose that hidden inner secrets of his heart in order that he might turn from sin and walk in the way everlasting. Now nobody can have a fault with theology that operates like that. Terms of the outline.
It's really quite brilliant falls into four easily recognizable parts there are. The first six verses the deal with God's omniscience in the next six verses deal with God's omnipresence next six verses deal with God's omnipotence in the final six verses of these 24 are reflections upon all of the above and even as a more sophisticated outline and that each of these four sections, each one consisting of six verses there is an initial stanza of four verses which presents the doctrine tactically and then there are two more verses which are somewhat of a reflection on what has gone before, and application of it. If you will, and it's an interesting thing that each of those application sections in one way or another, bridges to the section it's going to come next.
Now that theme of the first six verses is the omniscience of God. As I've said, the proper word theological word for the truth that God knows absolutely everything. This doctrine is not expressed as mere doctrine. That is something to be speculated about its confession in wonder and adoration as all the other doctrines that are going to be introduced throughout the Psalm will also be we have to remember because were thinking about worship in the studies that confession already seen it in an earlier study confession of doctrine and faith is one way in which we worship God we say about God's omniscience well unique quality of the knowledge of God, which is what that refers to is its perfection is God knows all things, and he knows him exhaustively. We also know things. That's why we have some idea what we're talking about when we talk about the omniscience of God that we only know partially and imperfectly and often when we think we know we don't actually know the case of God. He knows all things, and he knows all things in Perfection Is Way, Arthur Pink describes God's knowledge.
God knows everything he wrote everything possible, everything actual all events. All creatures of the past, present in the future. He is perfectly acquainted with every detail in the life of every being in heaven and earth and in hell. Nothing escapes his notice. Nothing can be hidden from him. Nothing is forgotten by him. He never airs never changes, never overlooks anything AW toes are great pastor and devotional writer of an earlier age explains this by adding negatives to which God is never learn from anyone. He says indeed does or wrote God cannot learn God at any time or in any manner receive into his mind. Knowledge that he did not possess and not possess from eternity, he would be imperfect and less than himself. Think of a God of must sit at the feet of a teacher, even though that teacher be an archangel or a seraph is to think of someone other than the most high God, who is the maker of heaven and earth. God knows instantly and effortlessly. All matter in all matters. All mind and every mind all spirit and all spirits, all being in every being all creature hood and all creatures every plurality and all pluralities all law and every law, all relations all causes all thoughts all mysteries and all enigmas, all feeling, all desires every uncluttered secret.
On thrones and dominions, all personalities, all things visible and invisible, in heaven and in earth, motion, space, time, like death, good evil, heaven and hell because God knows all things perfectly. He knows no thing better than any other thing but all things equally well.
He never discovers anything. He is never surprised, never amazed, never wonders about anything nor except when he's drying men and women out for their own good that she seek information or ass questions. That's what the psalmist is writing about. He states the theme in verse one. You see it there all Lord you have searched me and known me.
That's really what is going to develop throughout the whole song and then when he begins to reflect on aspects of that knowledge of God.
He elaborates it by three statements God knows his thoughts. You perceive my thoughts from afar verse two God knows his ways you're familiar with all my ways verse three God knows his words before word is on my tongue know it completely. Overlord verse four in verse five, he begins to anticipate the next section is what I referred to later.
But he doesn't get off the track in verse six is the wraps up the first stanza he comes back and reflects on God's knowledge, saying such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain, incidentally, is exactly the note that the apostle Paul strikes in that great doxology that comes at the end of the 11th chapter of Romans.
After the greatest doctrinal section of the greatest doctrinal book in the Bible. Paul writes their old and depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God, how unsearchable are his thoughts and his ways past finding out now. The perfection of God's knowledge is also disturbing and we haven't really treated it properly unless we reflect on that one reason why people try so hard not to think about God as long as we only think about God knowing other people or things that don't really consider any of it personally in terms of God. Knowing us.
It's not so bad the knowledge of God might just become somewhat amusing. Think of a group of schoolchildren. For example, who were asked by a Christian teacher, whether they thought God understood computers children agreed in large measure, the God didn't understand computers rates, we find that kind of amusing because we know he does but when we begin to think about actually knowing us is quite a different story. Arthur Pink whom I mention just a moment ago says that the thought of divine omniscience fills us with uneasiness posers even stronger in the divine omniscience we see set forth against each other. The terror in the fascination of the Godhead that God knows each person through and through can be a cause of shaking beer to the man who has something to hide someone for sake and sin some secret crime committed against man or God like Clements is a Baptist preacher in England are contemporary. He says that David's description of God is like some master detective who snoops into every detail of his existence armed with x-ray cameras and laser probes is like the oppressive, all seeing eye of big brother in George Orwell's novel 1984 well for the unsaved person that is an apt description. That is what the omniscience of God means that's the application to it.
The heart of the unsaved man dear terror before the fact that God knows is perfectly and through and through. But it's interesting, isn't that that's not the way David is reacting. That's not the tone of the Psalm is not trembling when he thinks of God's omniscience. On the contrary, he is sheltering himself in the knowledge of God and he marvels at David Solomon's knowledge that God knows it was because of terror but rather it's a refuge now. We asked if that point though isn't it a natural reaction when we think about the omniscience of God to want to try to get out from under his gaze, perhaps escape them. David is not doing that, but I suppose it's reflections along those lines, it leads to the second of these four stanzas because here he begins to talk about the omnipresence of God.
Some commentators do suggest that he is trying to escape from God's gaze, but is really not doing that he is meditating on God's omniscience. Remember that I said verse one is really the theme of the Psalm, and as he reflects on the omniscience of God, he is led logically to think about the omnipresence of God, because the reason God knows everything and sees everything, is that he is everywhere to see and know it so is he begins to unfold. This reflects that he can't escape God, even if he wants to know matter where he might go. I mention who pulled the commentator Lutheran who suggested that we might really get a better translation of verse seven. If we would render it this way. Where could I go from your presence saying how can I get away but just reflecting that it would be impossible to possibly go is what he said in the new international version doesn't do too badly when I translate that where can I go against the question. Well yes where where can I go if I want to get away from God.
David begins to explore the options then he dismisses each one. The first thing that might occur to us when we think of trying to escape the gaze of God is to go so high that he can't reach us or go so low he can stoop down to find us in some pet so David begins to talk about going up and going down, but his point is we can't get away from God by moving vertically. If you go up to heaven, you can't escape God because God is obviously there, and if you go down to hell Hebrew word is she all you Escape got there because God runs hell that's that's the tragic thing about hell hell is not an escape from God. I was a place of punishment that God is established for those who will not have his righteousness in Jesus Christ for the ideas about it because of what's happened in some of the great poetic literature of the world, especially English, John Milton, who wrote that masterpiece. Paradise lost is probably most building at this point because he has a description of Satan triumphing and ruling hell one point shortly after he wakes up in hell having been thrown out of heaven. Satan says he'll horrors infernal world and our profoundest health received by new possessor meant that he was the new king of hell one who brings a mind not to be changed by place or time mind is its own place in itself can make a heaven of hell. Hell of heaven. Well, mine can certainly make a hell of heaven, but it can't turn hell into heaven, and Dante was undoubtedly closer to the truth when he pictures in the Divine comedy, Satan occupying the very lowest level of the very lowest ring of hell misuses almost the same language the David does here winking of height and depth, when he writes no they didn't. Down to the depths of the grave. From there, my hand will take them. Though they climb up the heavens. From there I will bring them down.
There is no escaping God by going up or down.
Well then David says you can't escape God going up or down. Maybe you can escape them by going East or West is horizontally on rises in the east from David's perspective in Israel far side of the sea was the West that is beyond the Mediterranean's phrase that arise on the wings of the dawn probably means the flash from East to West as fast as the dawn's early light flashes from horizon to horizon, saying, even if that were possible. Which it's not, you couldn't escape God because when you reach the far side of the earth. God is already there waiting for you by rise in the wings of the dawn if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me in your right-hand will hold me fast. Jonah tried to do it.
Jonah tried to escape from God by sailing from Joppa to Tarshish.
Tarshish was a time in the far side of Spain limits of the known world in that day God pursued him in the great storm caused to be swallowed up by the great fish and brought them back.
He learned that there's no escaping from God.
When we say can do it by going up or down her East and West. Many were thinking in the wrong category spatially. Let's think in terms of the darkness.
Maybe we can hide their thoughts of people try to hide in the dark thinking verse 11. Surely the darkness will hide me, but even the darkness is light, God light is God's own creation. You read about it in Genesis and he doesn't need the like to know what's going on in the secret places.
These are some of the best-known verses in the Bible, and rightly so. The people of memorize them because I really do. Point us in a special way to the greatness of our God going to go on from this point in the next study to see how David responded to this meditation on God's omniscience and omnipresence. It's the response of one who has learned what it is to be known by God. All of his imperfections and sends them to be loved by God. Anyway marvelous ending to this theological reflection but let me ask your what about those who don't know God as David did.
These doctrines have bearing upon you. If you're still trying to get away from them. You really think that you can escape the presence or the all gazing eye of God. These verses, you probably know stand behind that best-known of Francis Thompson's poems, the one called the hound of heaven sure you've heard it, read it one time or another one of the stanzas goes like this life led him down the nights and down the days I fled him, down the arches of the years I fled him down the labyrinthine ways of my own mind and in the midst of tears. I hidden from him and under running laughter busiest hopes.
I spent and shot precipitated down to atomic blooms of constant fears from those strong feet that followed followed after Thompson fled from God, but he couldn't escape because God was always following following following after I asked. You're not a Christian.
Are you going to come to terms with the omniscience and omnipresence of God, because he certainly is all of the above. If he's not omniscient and is not on the present is not God is a God.
That's what he's like, how are you going to do with them. One day you're going to have to stand before him in judgment on that day. All of the things that you consider hidden, perhaps from yourself. You try it awfully hard to hide them, and certainly from other people. All of those things are going to be brought out. The Bible says nothing in all creation is hidden from God's like everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him.
We must give account you're going to have to give an account one day. What are you going to do on that day when all your sins will be read out on the day you will be confounded, speechless, overwhelmed as God unfolds the record of your past sinful life paragraph by paragraph and page by page going to cry out for her to stop but God will not stop until every sinful thought every evil deed. Every curse every theft, every lie, every neglect of what you should have done is read out and justly punished to see what the Bible encourages is that you don't wait for that day because today is the day of salvation. God is in Jesus Christ's is the Savior to bear the just punishment for exactly those sins.
God is pursuing you is pursuing you now in order that you might be saved. What you have to do is turn from the sin and come to him through faith in Jesus Christ, whom you said to be the Savior of the Bible says that if you do that you believe on Jesus and trust him fully. You will be saved her father.
We do ask you to bless this word to our hearts. You're the one who knows our hearts. You know them better than we know ourselves what we need where we need comfort in the assurance that you know and send love us have saved us in Christ.
We pray that you provide that comfort where we need to be confounded and review called up short because we been running away from you asset you will provide that as well so that in your grace. Those who somehow have deluded themselves into thinking they can escape the omniscient, omnipresent God might see the folly of their sin and repent of its and find your grace in Jesus's name for listing to the Bible study between the teaching of Dr. James Poole God has all knowledge he knows everything and there are no gaps in his understanding.
If you like to learn more about God's omniscience. We like to offer you a free copy of our CD entitled the omniscience of God by RC Sproul is free CD offer is our gift to you. Simply call us at 1-800-488-1888 will send you a copy of the omniscience of God straightaway again. Our phone number is 1-800-488-1888 God's presence is everywhere. He's the God who knows all things and controls all things, yet the world refuses to believe in this amazing God, would you help proclaim his word to a world in need by supporting the ministry of the Bible study our you can make your contribution by visiting our email@example.com you can also call us at 1-800-488-1888. Our mailing address is 600 Eden Rd., Lancaster, PA 17601 in Canada reached the Bible study our at PO Box 24097 RPO Josephine North Bay, Ontario P1 be 0C7 the Bible study our is a broadcast ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals reclaiming biblical doctrine to foster a reformed awakening in today's church connect with our online publishing broadcast and event platforms at Bible study our God award by Mark Daniels. Glad you could join us. Psalm 139 is a Psalm of God submissions get to David. He was more to David. He was a worship song reflecting God's knowledge of him from the beginning of time. The Psalm to the God who would walk with David through all his days. Join Dr. James Boyce as he explores the second half of this wonderful song of God's infinite knowledge and love. That's next time one Bible study our preparing you to think and act biblically