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Psalm 139 English Standard Version (ESV)

Search Me, O God, and Know My Heart

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.

139 O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
  you discern my thoughts from afar.
3 You search out my path and my lying down
  and are acquainted with all my ways.
4 Even before a word is on my tongue,
  behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
5 You hem me in, behind and before,
  and lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
  it is high; I cannot attain it.

7 Where shall I go from your Spirit?
  Or where shall I flee from your presence?
8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
  If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
9 If I take the wings of the morning
  and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me,
  and your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
  and the light about me be night,”
12 even the darkness is not dark to you;
  the night is bright as the day,
  for darkness is as light with you.

13 For you formed my inward parts;
  you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
  my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
  intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
  the days that were formed for me,
  when as yet there was none of them.

17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
  How vast is the sum of them!
18 If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
  I awake, and I am still with you.

19 Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God!
  O men of blood, depart from me!
20 They speak against you with malicious intent;
  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 complete hatred;
  I count them my enemies.

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


  • David probed the nature of his relationship with God, and traced that relationship back to the Lord’s creation of his “inmost being”. However, David was not troubled by the paradox of a transcendent God who is also imminent. He acknowledged God as one who fills the entire universe, yet saw the Lord as constantly, pervasively present with his people. God was near, observing every act of David, conscious of his every thought. God is transcendent, far above the highest heaven. Yet God is also totally present in our here and now, giving each of us his undivided attention.
  • God does know us even when we try to hide from him. And when we consciously open our hearts, and become totally honest with God and ourselves, he tests our hearts, cleansing us from “offensive ways”.
  • David realized that God is bending close to express his love, not to catch us in some sinful act. He stays close to guard us, and to guide us into his best. When we sense him near and realize that what we feel is love, we, with David, will invite him to, “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!”
  • Why not invite God right now with the above verses 23-24?