Does God Really Know You?
1. How widespread is the feeling that ‘others do not understand’ the anxieties, problems, and pressures that we face?
DOES anyone really understand the anxieties, pressures, and problems that you face? Worldwide there are millions of people, young and old, who have no family or relatives who care what happens to them. Even within families, many wives—yes, and husbands too—feel that their marriage mates do not truly comprehend the pressures that weigh them down. At times, in frustration, they protest: “But you don’t understand!” And not a few young people have concluded that no one understands them either. Yet, among those who have longed for greater understanding from others are some whose lives have later taken on rich meaning. How is that possible?
2. What can enable worshipers of Jehovah to have lives that are richly satisfying?
2 It is because, regardless of whether fellow humans fully understand their feelings or not, they are confident that God does understand what they are going through and that, as his servants, they do not have to face their problems alone. (Psalm 46:1) Furthermore, God’s Word coupled with the help of discerning Christian elders enables them to see beyond their personal problems. The Scriptures help them to appreciate that their faithful service is precious in the eyes of God and that there is a secure future for those who rest their hope in him and the provisions he has made through Jesus Christ.—Proverbs 27:11; 2 Corinthians 4:17, 18.
3, 4. (a) How can appreciation of the fact that “Jehovah is God” and that he “made us” help us to find joy in his service? (b) Why do we have complete confidence in Jehovah’s loving care?
3 You may be acquainted with Psalm 100:2, which says: “Serve Jehovah with rejoicing. Come in before him with a joyful cry.” How many truly render worship to Jehovah in that manner? Sound reasons for doing so are given in verse 3, which reminds us: “Know that Jehovah is God. It is he that has made us, and not we ourselves. We are his people and the sheep of his pasturage.” In the Hebrew text, he is there referred to as ʼElo·himʹ, thus indicating his greatness in majesty, dignity, and excellence. He is the only true God. (Deuteronomy 4:39; 7:9; John 17:3) His servants come to know his Godship, not merely as a fact that has been taught to them but as something they experience and of which they give evidence by obedience, trust, and devotion.—1 Chronicles 28:9; Romans 1:20.
4 Because Jehovah is the living God, able to see even our heart, nothing is hidden from his eyes. He is fully aware of what is happening in our lives. He understands what causes the problems that we face as well as the mental and emotional turmoil that may result from these. As the Creator, he knows us better than we know ourselves. He also knows how to help us to cope with our situation and how to provide lasting relief. Lovingly he will help us—like a shepherd who holds a lamb in his bosom—as we trust in him with all our heart. (Proverbs 3:5, 6; Isaiah 40:10, 11) A study of Psalm 139 can do much to strengthen that confidence.
The One Who Sees All Our Ways
5. What does Jehovah’s ‘searching through’ us mean, and why is that desirable?
5 With deep appreciation, the psalmist David wrote: “O Jehovah, you have searched through me, and you know me.” (Psalm 139:1) David was confident that Jehovah’s knowledge of him was not superficial. God did not see David as humans might, noting only his physical stature, his speaking ability, or his skill in playing the harp. (1 Samuel 16:7, 18) Jehovah had “searched through” into David’s innermost self and had done so with loving concern for his spiritual welfare. If you are one of Jehovah’s devoted servants, he knows you just as well as he did David. Does that not stir within you feelings of both gratitude and awe?
6. How does Psalm 139:2, 3 show that Jehovah knows everything we do, even all our thoughts?
6 All of David’s activities were exposed to the view of Jehovah, and David was aware of that. “You yourself have come to know my sitting down and my rising up,” the psalmist wrote. “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.” (Psalm 139:2, 3) The fact that Jehovah is in the heavens, far removed from the earth, did not prevent his knowing what David was doing or what he was thinking. He “measured off,” or carefully examined, David’s activities, both by day and by night, so as to know their nature.
7. (a) Using incidents from David’s life as a basis, comment on some of the things in our lives that God is aware of. (b) How should awareness of this affect us?
7 When love for God and confidence in His power to deliver moved David as a young man to volunteer to fight the Philistine giant Goliath, Jehovah knew that. (1 Samuel 17:32-37, 45-47) Later, when the hostility of men caused David’s heart severe pain, when the pressure was so great that he gave way to tears at night, he was comforted by the knowledge that Jehovah heard his supplication. (Psalm 6:6, 9; 55:2-5, 22) Likewise, when a heart filled with gratitude caused David to meditate about Jehovah during a sleepless night, Jehovah was well aware of it. (Psalm 63:6; compare Philippians 4:8, 9.) One evening when David watched the wife of a neighbor bathing, Jehovah knew that too, and he saw what happened when David, even for a brief period, allowed sinful desire to crowd God out of his thoughts. (2 Samuel 11:2-4) Later, when the prophet Nathan was sent to confront David with the gravity of his sin, Jehovah not only heard the words that came from David’s mouth but also discerned the repentant heart from which they came. (2 Samuel 12:1-14; Psalm 51:1, 17) Should that not make us think seriously about where we go, what we do, and what is in our heart?
8 Since God knows everything that we do, it should not surprise us that he is aware of how we use a body member even as small as the tongue. King David realized this, and he wrote: “For there is not a word on my tongue, but, look! O Jehovah, you already know it all.” (Psalm 139:4) David well knew that those who would be welcomed as guests in Jehovah’s tent would be people who did not slander others and who refused to use their tongue to spread juicy tidbits of gossip that would bring reproach on an intimate acquaintance. Those whom Jehovah favored would be people who spoke the truth even in their hearts. (Psalm 15:1-3; Proverbs 6:16-19) None of us are able to keep our tongue under perfect control, but David did not weakly conclude that there was nothing he could do to improve his situation. He spent much time composing and singing psalms of praise to Jehovah. He also freely acknowledged his need for help and prayed to God for it. (Psalm 19:12-14) Is our use of the tongue also in need of prayerful attention?
9. (a) What does the description at Psalm 139:5 indicate as to how thoroughly God knows our situation? (b) Of what does this make us confident?
9 Jehovah does not see us or our situation from just a limited perspective. He has the full picture, from every side. Using a besieged city as an example, David wrote: “Behind and before, you have besieged me.” In David’s case, God was not a besieging enemy; he was, rather, a watchful guardian. “You place your hand upon me,” David added, thus indicating God’s control and protection exercised for the lasting benefit of those who love him. “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me. It is so high up that I cannot attain to it,” David acknowledged. (Psalm 139:5, 6) So complete, so thorough, is God’s knowledge of his servants, that we cannot fully comprehend it. But we know enough to be confident that Jehovah truly understands us and that the help he provides will be the very best.—Isaiah 48:17, 18.
Wherever We Are, God Can Help Us
10. What encouraging truth is conveyed by the vivid description at Psalm 139:7-12?
10 Viewing Jehovah’s loving care from another standpoint, the psalmist continues: “Where can I go from your spirit, and where can I run away from your face?” He had no desire to try to get away from Jehovah; rather, he knew that wherever he might be, Jehovah would know and, by holy spirit, could help him. “If I should ascend to heaven,” he continued, “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. 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.” (Psalm 139:7-12) There is nowhere that we might go, no circumstance that we might face, that would put us beyond Jehovah’s view or beyond the reach of his spirit to help us.
11, 12. (a) Even though Jonah lost sight of it for a time, how was Jehovah’s ability to see and to help demonstrated in Jonah’s case? (b) How should Jonah’s experience benefit us?
11 At one point the prophet Jonah lost sight of that. Jehovah had assigned him to preach to the people of Nineveh. For some reason he felt that he could not handle that assignment. Perhaps because of the fierce reputation of the Assyrians, the thought of serving in Nineveh frightened Jonah. So he tried to drop out of sight. At the seaport of Joppa, he obtained passage on a ship bound for Tarshish (generally associated with Spain, over 2,200 miles [3,500 km] west of Nineveh). Nevertheless, Jehovah saw him board the ship and go to sleep down in the hold. God also knew where Jonah was when he was later thrown overboard, and Jehovah heard Jonah when he promised from within the belly of the big fish that he would pay his vows. Delivered back to dry land, Jonah was again given an opportunity to fulfill his assignment.—Jonah 1:3, 17; 2:1–3:4.
12 How much better it would have been for Jonah from the start to have relied on Jehovah’s spirit to help him fulfill his assignment! Later, though, Jonah did humbly record his experience, and that record has helped many since then to manifest the confidence in Jehovah that it seemed so difficult for Jonah to gain.—Romans 15:4.
13. (a) What assignments had Elijah faithfully fulfilled before he fled from Queen Jezebel? (b) How did Jehovah help Elijah even when he sought to go into hiding outside the territory of Israel?
13 Elijah’s experience was somewhat different. He had faithfully delivered Jehovah’s decree that Israel would suffer drought as chastisement for their sins. (1 Kings 16:30-33; 17:1) He had boldly upheld true worship in the contest between Jehovah and Baal at Mount Carmel. And he had followed through with the execution of 450 prophets of Baal at the torrent valley of Kishon. But when Queen Jezebel in a rage vowed to have Elijah put to death, Elijah fled the country. (1 Kings 18:18-40; 19:1-4) Was Jehovah there to help him at that difficult time? Yes, indeed. If Elijah had climbed a high mountain, as if to heaven; if he had hid in a cave deep within the earth, as if in Sheol; if he had fled to some remote island with speed like that of the light of dawn spreading over the earth—Jehovah’s hand would have been there to strengthen and lead him. (Compare Romans 8:38, 39.) And Jehovah did strengthen Elijah not only with food for his journey but also with marvelous displays of His active force. Thus fortified, Elijah undertook his next prophetic assignment.—1 Kings 19:5-18.
14. (a) Why would it be wrong to conclude that God is omnipresent? (b) Under what circumstances has Jehovah lovingly sustained his servants in modern times? (c) How is it that even if we were in Sheol, God would be there?
14 The prophetic words of Psalm 139:7-12 do not mean that God is omnipresent, that he is personally present in all places at all times. The Scriptures clearly show otherwise. (Deuteronomy 26:15; Hebrews 9:24) Yet, his servants are never beyond his reach. That is true of those whose theocratic assignments have taken them to distant places. It was true of loyal Witnesses in Nazi concentration camps during World War II, and it was true of the missionaries held in solitary confinement in China during the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. It was true of our dear brothers and sisters in a Central African country who had to flee repeatedly from their villages, even from the country. If need be, Jehovah can reach right into Sheol, the common grave, and bring faithful ones back by means of a resurrection.—Job 14:13-15; Luke 20:37, 38.
The One Who Truly Understands Us
15. (a) From how early a time was Jehovah able to observe our development? (b) How is the extent of God’s knowledge of us indicated by the psalmist’s reference to the kidneys?
15 Under inspiration, the psalmist draws attention to the fact that God’s knowledge of us precedes even the time of our birth, saying: “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.” (Psalm 139:13, 14) The combining of genes from our father and our mother at the time of conception produces the pattern that profoundly influences our physical and mental potential. God understands that potential. In this psalm special mention is made of the kidneys, which are often used in the Scriptures to represent the innermost aspects of personality.* (Psalm 7:9; Jeremiah 17:10) Jehovah has known these details about us since before we were born. He is also the one who with loving concern designed the human body so that a fertilized cell within a mother’s womb produces a protective housing to ‘screen off’ the embryo and protect it as it develops.
16. (a) In what way does Psalm 139:15, 16 highlight the penetrating power of God’s vision? (b) Why should this be encouraging to us?
16 Then, emphasizing the penetrating power of God’s vision, the psalmist adds: “My bones were not hidden from you when I was made in secret, when I was woven in the lowest parts of the earth [evidently a poetic reference to his mother’s womb but with an allusion to Adam’s creation from the dust]. 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.” (Psalm 139:15, 16) There is no doubt about it—whether fellow humans understand us or not, Jehovah does. How should that affect us?
17. When we view God’s works as being wonderful, what does this move us to do?
17 The writer of Psalm 139 acknowledged that God’s works about which he was writing were wonderful. Do you feel that way too? Something that is wonderful makes a person think deeply or show rapt attention. Likely you react that way to Jehovah’s works of physical creation. (Compare Psalm 8:3, 4, 9.) Do you also give that sort of thought to what he has done in establishing the Messianic Kingdom, to what he is doing in having the good news preached in all the earth, and to the way in which his Word transforms human personalities?—Compare 1 Peter 1:10-12.
18. If we find God’s work to be fear-inspiring, how will it affect us?
18 Is it likewise your experience that contemplation of God’s work is fear-inspiring, that it produces in you a wholesome fear, one that is powerfully motivating, one that has a profound effect on your personality and on the way you use your life? (Compare Psalm 66:5.) If so, your heart will move you to laud Jehovah, to praise him, to make opportunities to tell others about his purpose and the marvelous things that he has in store for those who love him.—Psalm 145:1-3.
What Is Your Comment?
□ How does our knowing that “Jehovah is God” help us to serve him with rejoicing?
□ How should our lives be influenced by God’s knowing everything we do?
□ Why is the fact that we are never out of God’s view encouraging?
□ Why is God able to understand us in ways that no human can?
□ Why does a study such as this make us want to laud Jehovah?