Psalm 139. 19-24

Devoted to God

The testimony of God concerning David was, ‘I have found in David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will’, Acts 13. 22. What a testimony from God! The Lord knew David’s innermost thoughts and motives. He had examined him and found one who had a desire to obey. He found in David someone who had a devoted heart. David experienced failure, but the pattern of his life was an increasing love for God.

His meditations gave him a greater appreciation of:

  • God’s omniscience - there is nothing He does not know;
  • God’s omnipresence - there is nowhere He is not present; and
  • God’s omnipotence - there is nothing He cannot do, if He chooses.

This last statement is qualified by the fact that there are some things that God cannot do, i.e., lie, sin, deny Himself, etc.

Uncomfortable reading?

In this last section of Psalm 139 we find some verses that on first reading may make the 21st century reader uncomfortable. There is talk of David slaying, loathing and hating enemies, Ps. 139. 21 . Should thoughts or words like this have any place in a man who has a heart like God? After all, the Bible does tell us to ‘Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you’, Luke 6. 27. Yet David, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, could also speak about God and write, ‘you hate all evildoers’, Ps. 5. 5 ESV, and ‘God is angry with the wicked every day’, 7. 11 NKJV.

How should we understand God’s love for sinners, John 3. 16, and His hatred of them? Such are the perfections of God that we can never fully understand these things. However, we do know that God’s love cannot be isolated from His wrath. His wrath perfectly co-exists with His love, and both attributes are constant and perfect.

Look at David’s deep loyalty to God.

He was not asking God to slay his own enemies, but God’s enemies, v. 20. He was not concerned with those who spoke maliciously against him, but those who spoke against God, v. 20. In verse 21, David states that he hated those who hated God, and rebelled against Him. David’s words show that he had a deep love for God. His delight in God meant that he recoiled from those who lived in rebellion against Him. He was extremely concerned that God should be honoured and loved by all men.

How do you react when God is defamed?

How do you respond when people who claim to represent God perform actions that are opposed to God? David was grieved when he witnessed such incidents. He could not remain silent, but came to God in prayer. The response of David is a challenge to every believer. In the 21st Century, the media is full of interviews with people who want to put their side of a story across. The interviewee will want to be portrayed in a good light so that people think well of them. We too can be easily offended if people misrepresent our words, speak falsely about our character, or commit deeds in our name that are repulsive to us. Undoubtedly, we are outraged, and maybe we take immediate action to ensure as many people as possible know the truth. Yet, when the name of God is misused we remain silent.

If you are more offended when you are misrepresented than when God is, you should ask yourself, ‘Who do I love most?’

How do you react when God is defamed?

The zeal of David for God’s name is similar to that of the Apostle Paul. If anyone misrepresented God by preaching a ‘different gospel’, he said, ‘let him be accursed’, Gal. 1. 9. He used the same word ‘accursed’, which means ‘devoted to destruction’, when speaking of those who had no love for the Lord Jesus Christ: ‘If anyone does not love the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed’, 1 Cor. 16. 22 NKJV.

Of course, the person who was most concerned that God be represented truthfully was the Lord Jesus Christ. We can remember the incident in John chapter 2 when He saw the temple of God being abused. Jesus would not tolerate disrespect towards God. The money changers had their tables overturned and were driven out with a cord of whips. The disciples recalled the words, ‘Zeal for your house will consume me’ ESV, and applied them to the Lord, as He was totally consumed with a zeal for the things of God.

How about praying like David?

Such was David’s devotion to God he uttered a prayer, vv. 23-24, that would be suitable for every believer. His words should be read and considered by all. David knew that he did not know his own thoughts and motives as well as God did. He wanted God to reveal to him any sin that was in his life, so that he could deal with it.

David’s sincere prayer could only come from a heart that loved God and wanted to please Him. His longing for greater intimacy with God was the root of his prayer. His desire for practical holiness in every area of his life meant that he prayed these words.

Challenge: Read the whole of Psalm 139 carefully, meditate upon the words, and then respond to God in a prayer that reflects your meditation.