Bible Study: The Worst and Best of You

God knows—and He can help.

David was renowned as a fighter from his first victory with a slingshot, but he always knew where he stood with the Lord. No armor is able to hide us from God’s omniscience, and no shield or helmet can resist His penetrating gaze. But to be known is one of the great joys of relating with others, and our heavenly Father knows as nobody else can. It’s His children’s amazing privilege to stand in His light unafraid.

 

READ

Psalm 139

 

BACKGROUND

A thousand years before Jesus’ birth, King David ruled Israel. He was a powerful leader and warrior who subdued the surrounding kingdoms and united God’s people. Also an insightful songwriter, he detailed his deep relationship with the Lord in many psalms.

 

REFLECT

How well does God really know me? Or care to know me?

  • Psalm 139 is David’s awestruck celebration of God’s knowledge of him, which the shepherd king finds incredible, beyond comprehension, and comforting. The psalm begins, “Lord, You have searched me and known me.” Chaqar, the Hebrew word for “search,” also means “explore” or “thoroughly examine.” That can sound intimidating, but as God’s children, we should always understand His examinations in the context of His love. When we love someone, we want to spend time learning about that person. What does this verse reveal about the connection between devotion and thoroughness? Give examples from your life.

  • The Hebrew word for “known” (Psalm 139:1) is yada, which also means being skillful at something. To be skilled at languages or sports, for example, involves persistence and attention. What might it mean to be skillful at knowing a person? How does this affect your understanding of God’s relationship with you?

  • The concept of fanning grain, or winnowing, is often used in the Bible to mean God’s judgment. But that same Hebrew term (zarah) occurs two verses later, where it is translated as “You scrutinize my path.” Here, winnowing is not a fearsome separation of people but an assessment of our choices and decisions. Instead of causing dread, this should lead to sober yet hopeful mindfulness about our actions. Do you agree? How might it help you to know God evaluates all your decisions?

  • To be known is one of the great joys of relating with others, and our heavenly Father knows as nobody else can.

  • Psalm 139:1-6 show David had clear understanding of how extensive the Lord’s knowledge of him was. What do you think made David so sure of this? Is it possible to come to such certainty about God? Describe a time the Lord made clear to you that He knows you better than anyone else, better even than you know yourself.

 

OUT PART IN THE STORY

Even on the wrong path, we can still be found and led home again.

  • God knows us completely—not only the best parts but also the worst: our secret struggles, darker habits, and unwelcome movements of the heart. Yet David still rejoices in God’s continued presence (Psalm 139:5-6; Psalm 139:17). What’s the role of grace and mercy in this psalm? How has God’s continued favor made it possible to rejoice, even when you feel more like a failure than a success?

  • David is sure God will lead him even if he’s in a dark or distant place (Psalm 139:8-10). How might Psalm 139:7-12 point to forgiveness? Guidance? Correction?

 

REFLECT

Infinite love makes God’s omniscience both a delight and a valuable gift.

  • Only a deeply trusting heart would say, “Search me, God.” We, too, can confidently ask this, as God’s desire is always to “lead me in the everlasting way” (Psalm 139:23-24).

 

GOING FURTHER

Consider deeper aspects of this passage.

God knows us completely—not only the best parts but also the worst: our secret struggles, darker habits, and unwelcome movements of the heart.

At the heart of Psalm 139 is a reflection on God’s creation of life (Psalm 139:13-16). For David, a great king and warrior, to ponder life in such an innocent and fragile state is revealing. Of course, most people are awed by extraordinary experiences such as childbirth. But David’s impulse also demonstrates the wisdom and sensitivity God imparts when we walk in awe before Him and seek His truth. What the Israelite king expresses is a tender and fearless contemplation of the mystery of creation. His words can help us appreciate what a miracle it is when God’s immense power is shown as delicate love for the tiniest of creatures—including the king himself.

  • Consider what it requires of us to observe or reflect on something very small, fragile, or weak. In what way does this both demand and activate courage? Have you had this experience, perhaps with babies or animals? Describe how it affected or even changed you.

  • Each time we show compassion for something more fragile than ourselves, we imitate our Father in heaven. And when we don’t attempt to hide our weakness, fatigue, or imperfection from Him, we’re showing not just trust but also humility. Can you see both traits in David’s song? Ask God to reveal how growing humbler will help you draw nearer to Him.

  • Even the darkness is light to God (Psalm 139:12). Invite Him into every corner of your heart. With perfect knowledge, He will guide you through the best, and worst, of yourself.

 

Illustration by Adam Cruft

Related Topics:  Reading Bible

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1 O LORD, You have searched me and known me.

2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar.

3 You scrutinize my path and my lying down, And are intimately acquainted with all my ways.

4 Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O LORD, You know it all.

5 You have enclosed me behind and before, And laid Your hand upon me.

6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is too high, I cannot attain to it.

7 Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?

8 If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.

9 If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,

10 Even there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will lay hold of me.

11 If I say, Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, And the light around me will be night,"

12 Even the darkness is not dark to You, And the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You.

13 For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother's womb.

14 I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.

15 My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;

16 Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them.

17 How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them!

18 If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand. When I awake, I am still with You.

19 O that You would slay the wicked, O God; Depart from me, therefore, men of bloodshed.

20 For they speak against You wickedly, And Your enemies take Your name in vain.

21 Do I not hate those who hate You, O LORD? And do I not loathe those who rise up against You?

22 I hate them with the utmost hatred; They have become my enemies.

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts;

24 And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.

1 O LORD, You have searched me and known me.

2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar.

3 You scrutinize my path and my lying down, And are intimately acquainted with all my ways.

4 Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O LORD, You know it all.

5 You have enclosed me behind and before, And laid Your hand upon me.

6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is too high, I cannot attain to it.

5 You have enclosed me behind and before, And laid Your hand upon me.

6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is too high, I cannot attain to it.

17 How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them!

8 If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.

9 If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,

10 Even there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will lay hold of me.

7 Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?

8 If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.

9 If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,

10 Even there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will lay hold of me.

11 If I say, Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, And the light around me will be night,"

12 Even the darkness is not dark to You, And the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You.

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts;

24 And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.

13 For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother's womb.

14 I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.

15 My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;

16 Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them.

12 Even the darkness is not dark to You, And the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You.

1 O LORD, You have searched me and known me.

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