1 Lord, You have searched me and known me. 2 You know when I sit down and when I stand up; You understand my thoughts from far away. 3 You observe my travels and my rest; You are aware of all my ways. 4 Before a word is on my tongue, You know all about it, Lord. 5 You have encircled me; You have placed Your hand on me. 6 This extraordinary knowledge is beyond me. It is lofty; I am unable to reach it. 7 Where can I go to escape Your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence? 8 If I go up to heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, You are there. 9 If I live at the eastern horizon or settle at the western limits, 10 even there Your hand will lead me; Your right hand will hold on to me. 11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me, and the light around me will be night”— 12 even the darkness is not dark to You. The night shines like the day; darkness and light are alike to You. 13 For it was You who created my inward parts; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I will praise You because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, and I know this very well. 15 My bones were not hidden from You when I was made in secret, when I was formed in the depths of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw me when I was formless; all my days were written in Your book and planned before a single one of them began. 17 God, how difficult Your thoughts are for me to comprehend; how vast their sum is! 18 If I counted them, they would outnumber the grains of sand; when I wake up, I am still with You. 19 God, if only You would kill the wicked— you bloodthirsty men, stay away from me— 20 who invoke You deceitfully. Your enemies swear by You falsely. 21 Lord, don’t I hate those who hate You, and detest those who rebel against You? 22 I hate them with extreme hatred; I consider them my enemies. 23 Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my concerns. 24 See if there is any offensive way in me; lead me in the everlasting way.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
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In this Psalm, we see David continually claiming the Lord’s promises: that He is an omniscient God who created us and knows us intimately. David invites God into both the physical and emotional aspects of life, desperately seeking for the Lord to search inside the depths of his soul. Like most of David’s psalms it was intended for worship. David calls us to remember and reflect that we serve a God too powerful and too infinite for us to even comprehend.
Throughout high school, I turned to this Psalm in so many different areas of life. In seasons of searching to find who I was in the midst of society’s destructive labels, I would turn to the promises in this Psalm. It claimed that God had intricately woven me together for a purpose, that despite what the world told me, I was fearfully and wonderfully made. In times of deep loneliness, when I created walls so high that even my closest relationships would not know the authentic me, I took comfort in the fact that I served a God who knew all the depths of my soul. Nothing of me was hidden from Him, and He knew the words I was going to say even before they were spoken.
I have always loved that David writes this Psalm as a list of facts. It is clear David has a personal relationship with God, one where he has tested His goodness and faithfulness. This Psalm seems to be a series of claims that David has tasted and seen for himself.
The first statement is that we are fully known (verses 1-6). The opening line always catches me off guard, for David states that the Lord has searched and known him in the past tense. David recognized that the promise to be known has already been fulfilled, without any of David's own efforts. At the end of the Psalm, David pleads for the Lord to search, know and test him. I have always loved that the Psalm ends with a desperate request, even as it begins with the fulfillment of the request.
David’s second claim is that God is constant (verses 7-12). He gives examples that recognize the wavering seasons that life brings. We have seasons of such joy it’s as if we are in the midst of heaven’s glory, yet at other times we’re so broken we feel we are living in hell. No matter what we do, where we run, or what our emotional state is, God is with us. Although we are constantly changing, He is steadfast.
The final promise is that we are wonderfully made (verses 13-16). David calls us to praise and sing to the Lord for making us exactly as we are. This claim is extremely bold and counter-cultural. Can you imagine how much money magazines, cosmetic surgery, make-up companies, etc. would lose if we indeed believed this promise—that the God of the universe created our inmost being for a good purpose? It would transform our society, and there would be such a freedom in rejoicing that we are made perfectly as we are.
- How does it make you feel when you realize God fully knows you inside and out? Fearful? Comforting? Loved? Less lonely?
- Not only are you fully known, but God is with you wherever you go (vv. 7-12). He will never leave you nor forsake you. How does this promise help you in the coming day?
- This Psalm tells us we are fearfully and wonderfully made. Do you believe this about yourself? Are you able to praise God for how He made you? Why or why not?
- Pray these closing verses: Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my concerns. See if there is any offensive way in me; lead me in the everlasting way.