How Well Does God Know His Servants?
JEHOVAH God truly knows his servants. Neither parents, children, brothers and sisters nor the closest of friends can know us as well as does the Most High. He knows us even better than we know ourselves. The extent of God’s knowledge of individuals is beautifully portrayed in Psalm 139.
The psalmist David acknowledged: “O Jehovah, you have searched through me, and you know me. You yourself have come to know my sitting down and my rising up. You have considered my thought from far off. My journeying and my lying outstretched you have measured off, and you have become familiar even with all my ways. For there is not a word on my tongue, but, look! O Jehovah, you already know it all.”—Ps. 139:1-4.
According to these words, Jehovah’s knowledge of the psalmist David was such as that obtained through a thorough search or investigation. The Most High knew him in all his daily activities, whether David was resting or getting up. Nothing David might do would be unknown to Jehovah. The Almighty, though removed by great distance because of having his dwelling place in the highest heavens, knew the very thoughts of David. Jehovah’s ‘measuring off’ the psalmist’s “journeying” and his “lying outstretched” evidently refers to God’s taking all of David’s doings under close scrutiny, as if measuring them to determine just what they were—their nature. So the Supreme Sovereign had full knowledge of the psalmist’s “ways,” the paths of his life course. David realized that nothing he might say would be hidden from Jehovah. Even what was on the ‘tip of the tongue’ but left unsaid would be discerned by the Creator. Furthermore, true feelings simply could not be concealed from Jehovah by hypocritical speech. Men might be deceived by smooth speech, but not the Almighty.
David realized that there were limits to what he could do during the course of his life. Moreover, he appreciated the impossibility of escape from the watchful eye and from the hand or the control of his Maker. This apparently is what the psalmist alluded to when saying: “Behind and before, you have besieged me; and you place your hand upon me.”—Ps. 139:5.
The intimate knowledge that Jehovah had respecting him filled the psalmist with awe, prompting him to exclaim: “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me. It is so high up that I cannot attain to it.” (Ps. 139:6) God’s knowledge of individuals is so comprehensive that it cannot be fathomed by humans. No man or woman could even come close to having such knowledge.
DISTANCE NO OBSTACLE
Nothing can prevent Jehovah from having complete knowledge of his servants. No matter where they might go, God’s spirit would be active toward them. The psalmist declared: “Where can I go from your spirit, and where can I run away from your face? If I should ascend to heaven, there you would be; and if I should spread out my couch in Sheol, look! you would be there. Were I to take the wings of the dawn, that I might reside in the most remote sea, there, also, your own hand would lead me and your right hand would lay hold of me.”—Ps. 139:7-10.
Note that the psalmist spoke of God’s spirit in parallel with God’s face. Since God’s spirit or his active force can reach the remotest parts of the vast universe, no one can flee from the face of the Most High, that is, from his observation. In the time of the psalmist, going up to the heavens meant ascending the high mountains, the peaks of which are often obscured by clouds. So if a person came to be on the highest mountain peak, he would still not be out of the reach of God’s spirit. Nor would he escape from the face or observation of Jehovah by having his couch in Sheol, figuratively the lowest parts of the earth. Also, if he could “take the wings of the dawn”* and reach the most distant part in the west, he would still be subject to God’s hand or his control and direction. Jehovah, by means of his spirit, would be there to guide him.—Compare Deuteronomy 30:12, 13; Amos 9:2, 3, where similar language appears.
DARKNESS AND CONCEALMENT POSE NO PROBLEM
As great distance does not put one out of Jehovah’s reach, so also darkness or obscurity cannot do so. The psalmist continues: “And were I to say: ‘Surely darkness itself will hastily seize me!’ then night would be light about me. Even the darkness itself would not prove too dark for you, but night itself would shine just as the day does; the darkness might just as well be the light.” (Ps. 139:11, 12) A person could suddenly be enshrouded in total darkness as if swallowed up or seized by it. Nevertheless, as far as Jehovah is concerned, the individual is as visible as if standing in the bright light of day.
Developing this point further, the psalmist states: “For you yourself produced my kidneys; you kept me screened off in the belly of my mother. I shall laud you because in a fear-inspiring way I am wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, as my soul is very well aware. My bones were not hidden from you when I was made in secret, when I was woven in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw even the embryo of me, and in your book all its parts were down in writing, as regards the days when they [the body parts] were formed and there was not yet one [distinct body part] among them.”—Ps. 139:13-16.
It is of interest that the psalmist specifically mentioned the kidneys as being produced by God. In view of their location deep inside the body, the kidneys are among the most inaccessible organs. Jehovah God, however, can see right into the womb and the innermost recesses of the developing embryo. David’s contemplating the marvelous way in which he was formed in the womb stirred within him expressions of praise for his Maker. The embryo had been hidden from human vision as if it were developing in the lowest recesses of the earth. So the psalmist evidently was referring to his mother’s womb as “the lowest parts of the earth.” There in the womb, the hidden development of bones, sinews and muscles was comparable to the weaving together of a baby. It was all visible to the Most High.
Amazingly, before the various parts of his body became distinct in the womb, David’s appearance was already known to God. This is so because the development of the embryo followed a precise pattern as if obeying the instructions set forth in a book.
HOW GOD’S KNOWLEDGE SHOULD AFFECT ONE
The psalmist must have realized that the development of a baby provided outstanding evidence regarding God’s unsurpassed wisdom. This realization would reasonably have moved David to ponder God’s thoughts, as he did when he wrote: “To me how precious your thoughts are! O God, how much does the grand sum of them amount to! Were I to try to count them, they are more than even the grains of sand. I have awaked, and yet I am still with you.” (Ps. 139:17, 18) So very numerous were Jehovah’s thoughts that if David started counting them at the start of the day and continued until going to bed, he would not finish. On awaking in the morning, he would still be with the Most High, that is, he would still be counting the Creator’s thoughts.
Since Jehovah is such a grand God, the wicked are certainly without excuse. David prays that they might experience just retribution: “O that you, O God, would slay the wicked one! Then even the bloodguilty men will certainly depart from me, who say things about you according to their idea; they have taken up your name in a worthless way—your adversaries.” (Ps. 139:19, 20) Because of their record of guilt in shedding blood and bringing reproach on God’s name, these wicked men were looked upon by David with abhorrence. We read his words: “Do I not hate those who are intensely hating you, O Jehovah, and do I not feel a loathing for those revolting against you? With a complete hatred I do hate them. They have become to me real enemies.”—Ps. 139:21, 22.
In no way did David want to be like those wicked men. He desired that Jehovah examine him, revealing to him any hidden flaws, and then he wanted to be led by the Most High in the right way. With this thought, Psalm 139 concludes. We read: “Search through me, O God, and know my heart. Examine me, and know my disquieting thoughts, and see whether there is in me any painful way, and lead me in the way of time indefinite.”—Ps. 139:23, 24.
For us, Psalm 139 should provide real encouragement. Since nothing escapes the vision of our heavenly Father, he can always come to our aid in time of need. His knowing humans intimately provides strong assurance that he can, through his Son, restore the dead to life, for every detail about them is precisely preserved in his perfect memory. Jehovah’s knowledge of us individually should affect our life for good, prompting us to praise him and to conduct ourselves in a way that indicates that we are always under his observation.
The words “the wings of the dawn” poetically describe how the light of the dawn, as if having wings, quickly spreads from the east to the remotest part of the west.
[Pictures on page 14]
“If I should ascend to heaven, there you would be.”
“My bones were not hidden from you when I was made in secret.”