Praying Your Way Through Psalm 139

I’ve always loved Psalm 139. Who wouldn’t? While God’s word is entirely God-centric, it’s easy to understand how clearly He sees us in this chapter. And humanly, it’s so normal to want to find ourselves in the center of the picture.

“How precious are your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them!”

God thinks of us and shares His thoughts with us.

“In your book were written every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”

He’s been counting our days for longer than we can rehearse.

But this time, I’ve found myself in dialogue with God through David’s voice here. I’ve been turning these words back into prayer. I think this chapter was written specifically for this purpose.

The chapter begins with David acknowledging what God does of His own accord:

“You have searched me and known me … You discern my thoughts from afar … your hand shall lead me.”

Then, after an interlude of intimacy–the realization that He forms each of us from nothing, sculpts us in the womb, knows every secret crevice and plans our “unscripted” future–David returns to ask God something. Something he already knows the answer to.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my anxious thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!”

“Search me, O God”–examine and explore me. David already knows that God does this, but here he’s asking God to show him the results. He’s admitting that it’s good for God to see all the hidden places, to light up all the darkness and reveal all shadowed things.

It might be seen as the equivalent to inviting the land lord into your home. Sure, he has complete authority to walk in unannounced and open every closet, but a tenant who welcomes him, throws the door open wide, will enjoy a better relationship and indeed even a better time of residence.

“Try me and know my anxious thoughts”–David wants God to understand his fears. Though even throughout the Old Testament believers were instructed to “fear not,” God knows the fragile state of our hearts. And while fear is disobedience at its core, God does not despise nor judge us for it. Instead, He knows it and David understands that is safe and good.

The Hebrew word here actually means “to prove”. As we allow God to test our fears, He will prove to you and me that they really have no power over us. 

“See if there be any grievous way in me” God sees our sin. He sees the sin of fearful unbelief. He sees the sins hidden in our darkened corners. This phrase actually means: see if there is any “pain, sorrow or idol”.

Our sin and idolatry will always cause us pain. Though we attempt to fool ourselves, the path of sin leads only to death. (Romans 6:23)

But the final conclusion of David’s prayer is a deep sigh of relief. Even as he asks God to “lead me in the way everlasting,” he said only a few verses before: “If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.”


Fly Your Flag Proudly

The Flag Page is your chance to see how you succeed in life, what motivates you and what makes you different from the people close to you.

It’s not a personality test, an aptitude test or an evaluation of your love language. It’s about what motivates you, what makes you tick. The final DVD in the Laugh Your Way To A Better Marriage seminar is an introduction to the Flag Page. Think of it as the banner that flies over your life. Historically, in battle, the colors are the motivation and the rallying point for soldiers. Your “flag” is that for your own life. In the “battles” of marriage, the conundrums of work, the daily complexities of life, what keeps you plugging on? What are you ultimately striving for? What, when you see this accomplished, allows you to sit back and sigh with satisfaction?

Prepare to hardly recognize yourself. When I clicked the last little box and my flag appeared on the computer screen, I felt like a foreigner to learn that I am from the “Fun Country.” I’m not especially humorous, I’m certainly not witty, comedy is not my forte. But, when I think about what motivates me, what my end game is – I want to make people happy. I love, love to please people. At the end of the day, if those around me have had fun, felt love, found joy, then I am deeply satisfied.

Patrick, as it turns out is from the “Peace Country.” That surprised me too. His talents are leadership, he’s hard as nails, his very career thrives on conflict, for crying out loud. But, when I look at what motivates him – truly, his greatest joy is to keep the peace. He is overwhelmed by chaos. What motivates him through a tough day is the promise of his comfy chair at home, escape from conflict, simplicity.

Yes, love languages are important and doubtless it is interesting to understand your spouse’s personality. But, I now realize how important it is to understand what motivates my husband. Obviously, a marriage is give and take. It’s leaning toward your spouse, working to please them, expressing your needs and sacrificing to meet the needs of your spouse. If you know what motivates your mate, then you can more easily to persuade them to come toward you and you can more willingly meet their needs.

I also found great joy in learning my own country. I was surprised to discover my native country, but thrilled to see more clearly why I do the things I do. I suddenly have an ever deeper craving to bring joy to others. I have a renewed energy to do what I was made to do, which in turn brings me even more fulfillment.

Go figure. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. What’s good for the spouse is good for the marriage.