St. John’s University, Collegivelle, MN, 56231 2006
Saturday, June 21 By George Cowden
Psalms 139 1Lord, you have examined me and you know me. 2 You know everything I do;
from far away you understand all my thoughts. 3 You see me, whether I am working or resting;
you know all my actions. 4 Even before I speak,
you already know what I will say. 5 You are all around me on every side;
you protect me with your power. 6 Your knowledge of me is too deep;
it is beyond my understanding. 7 Where could I go to escape from you?
Where could I get away from your presence? 8 If I went up to heaven, you would be there;
if I lay down in the world of the dead, you would be there. 9 If I flew away beyond the east
or lived in the farthest place in the west, 10 you would be there to lead me,
you would be there to help me. 11 I could ask the darkness to hide me
or the light around me to turn into night, 12 but even darkness is not dark for you,
and the night is as bright as the day.
Darkness and light are the same to you. 13 You created every part of me;
you put me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you because you are to be feared;
all you do is strange and wonderful.
I know it with all my heart. 15 When my bones were being formed,
carefully put together in my mother’s womb,
when I was growing there in secret,
you knew that I was there— 16 you saw me before I was born.
The days allotted to me
had all been recorded in your book,
before any of them ever began. 17 O God, how difficult I find your thoughts;
how many of them there are! 18 If I counted them, they would be more than the grains of sand.
When I awake, I am still with you. 19 O God, how I wish you would kill the wicked!
How I wish violent people would leave me alone! 20 They say wicked things about you;
they speak evil things against your name. 21 O Lord, how I hate those who hate you!
How I despise those who rebel against you! 22 I hate them with a total hatred;
I regard them as my enemies. 23 Examine me, O God, and know my mind;
test me, and discover my thoughts. 24 Find out if there is any evil in me
and guide me in the everlasting way.
In a number of his writings, when historian David McCullough deals with the less admirable traits of his subjects, he calls the reader to observe their “humanity”. Jefferson’s and Washington’s slaves, Kennedy’s and King’s infidelities, Morgan’s and Rockefeller’s greed – all provide evidence of those men’s imperfections to go along with their valuable historical accomplishments.
How human is the psalmist! He gratefully acknowledges his inability to hide from God, gives thanks for God’s presence, assures God that he is on God’s side and then asks God to smite his enemies!
On one of the walls in our Sunday School meeting room, there hangs a bronze plaque with the inscription “Bidden or Not Bidden, God is Present”, words attributed to Carl Jung. I wonder if Jung was celebrating what I believe the message of Psalms 139 to be.
Despite all our imperfections, God is present. Regardless of whether we have called out, God is with us. We are not alone.
Go to Youtube and search for “We Are Not Alone” by Pepper Choplin (a friend of Randy’s) performed at Sandy Ridge Mennonite or Calvary Presbyterian Church.
These performances say so beautifully what the psalmist acknowledges –
God is present. We are never alone.