Searched and Known

I have said in a previous Daily Cup that I love the Book of Psalms.  I love them because they cover such a wide variety of emotions.  I love them because they are, as a whole, one giant prayer to God.  I love them because they meet us where we are…most of the time we can relate to what they are saying.  When Paul, the master of long complex sentences filled with so many clauses and phrases that it is difficult to even identify the subject, baffles me, I turn to the straightforward language of the psalms.

The portion of the Psalter appointed in today’s Eucharistic Lectionary is Psalm 139:1-17. There are so many beautiful parts and phrases to this psalm, but what struck me were the first four verses:

“1 O Lord, you have searched me and know me.

2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from far away. 

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,
O Lord, you know it completely.”

Now for some, those words can be a bit terrifying.  The omnipotence and omniscience of God is not a small thing.  Far beyond the “Santa-fication” of it, God knows not only when we’re sleeping or awake, if we’ve been bad or good (so be good for goodness sakes), God knows the very words we are going to utter before our crude tongues can form them.  For those of us who have a guilty conscience perhaps that is not such good news.  God knows all of the times we cheat, at anything; God knows all of the times we’ve lied, or even bent the truth.  God knows all of the horrible things about us that even we have a difficult time fessing up to.  Worse than that, God knew all of those things before we had the thought to do or think or say ANY of it.  You know, because God is…well, God.  God knows all of our dirty laundry, all of our deepest secrets.     

But let me suggest something else that goes with God knowing everything about us…God knows everything GOOD about us as well.  As the psalmist says, “O Lord, you have searched me and know me.”  That means that God knows all of the wonderful things about you as well.  God knows your favorite color.  God knows that thing you MEANT to say that would have totally brightened the other person’s day had you actually said it.  God sees and knows us intimately.

How freeing is that?  How freeing and incredible is it to be so known?  What do we do with that knowledge that God knows us so awesomely well?  How do we relate to God knowing that before we even start to think about what we will pray about, how we feel, or anything, that God already knows where we’re going, what we’re up to, what we’ll say?

We can read this portion of Psalm 139 and choose to see only the negative, and recognize only our sins, faults and those times where we fail (which isn’t a bad thing if we repent and return to the Lord).  But in the same breath, remember also that God rejoices over the beautiful creation that each of us is, and that God delights in the wonderful things, both great and small, that we do every day.  How truly wonderful it is to be both searched out and known by God.


About matthewhanisian

Associate Rector at St. Alban's Episcopal Church, Washington, D.C.
This entry was posted in The Rev. Matthew R. Hanisian and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Searched and Known

  1. Cay Haratley says:

    This is one of my absoslute favorites, Matt. Thanks.

  2. Carlyle Gill says:

    Thank you for this perspective, Matthew. It is helpful!

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