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Seeds of the Kingdom

He Knows Me

by John Sainsbury

You hem me in - behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me.
Psalm 139:5, NIV

Psalm 139 has become something of a favourite to me in recent years. I also recognise, though, that God’s detailed knowledge of me has the capacity to be incredibly comforting or a little unnerving!

Even in the first four verses, the psalmist piles up the verbs to detail God’s absolute knowledge of us: search/examine, know/perceive, discern/sift. These pairings are designed to show the comprehensive nature of His knowledge of us, whether we sit or rise, travel or stay put. In essence, whatever I do and wherever I go, He knows.

But, when it comes to verse 5, “You hem me in”, this could suggest the psalmist is seeing this as a good thing, that God is protecting him, or an unnerving thing, maybe feeling a bit threatened by it.

The truth is, though, that, as long as the person is in step with God, then there is surely nothing to fear from this verse, in fact quite the opposite. There is only a need to feel threatened by God’s presence if we are in a place where we are acting outside the ways that God would have us live. It`s possible then that God’s hemming us in might create something for us to be concerned about.

So, if reading this verse has that kind of unsettling effect on us, what are we to do? One bible commentator puts it really well: “So long as I am looking to my own self-pleasing and away from God, I shall feel his overwhelming knowledge of me as a threat. As soon as I turn from sin and back to him, it becomes a comfort.”

I wonder how verse 5 makes you feel. How wonderful if it’s a comfort! But what if it feels a bit threatening? Try hard to resist the temptation to shy away and try to hide. Don’t let any sense of shame overwhelm you. Instead, maybe it’s time to ask the Lord if there is any way that you need to turn back to Him so that you also can hear God’s comfort in His presence. He really is good. He really does have our good, our best in mind in His every encounter with us. Actually, His knowledge of us means He already knows, so there’s no point in trying to hide anything from Him. But, because He is so good and will provide a way to forgiveness and truth and freedom, that is simply too wonderful for me!

John Sainsbury and his wife Sue are part of the leadership team at Ellel Grange. John has served as a church leader for many years, most recently as Lead Pastor of the Garstang Free Methodist Church. He has a passion for seeing many brought into the fulness of life that following Christ brings.


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