The Way Everlasting

Throughout the past year, we’ve seen that the psalms have words of wisdom for Memorial Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.  Not surprisingly, the psalms have something important to say about New Year’s Day as well.

One of my favorite psalms for any occasion is Psalm 139.  It is full of childlike awe, yet rich with theological depth.  It expresses both joyful praise and quiet trust.  And its simple request is summed up in its final verses: “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!”

The Psalter Hymnal versifies Psalm 139 this way:

Lord, Thou hast searched me and dost know
Where’er I rest, where’er I go;
Thou knowest all that I have planned,
And all my ways are in Thy hand.

My words from Thee I cannot hide,
I feel Thy power on every side;
O wondrous knowledge, awful might,
Unfathomed depth, unmeasured height!

Where can I go apart from Thee,
Or whither from Thy presence flee?
In heaven? It is Thy dwelling fair;
In death’s abode? Lo, Thou art there.

If I the wings of morning take,
And far away my dwelling make,
The hand that leadeth me is Thine,
And my support Thy power divine.

If deepest darkness cover me,
The darkness hideth not from Thee;
To Thee both night and day are bright,
The darkness shineth as the light.

All that I am I owe to Thee,
Thy wisdom, Lord, has fashioned me;
I give my Maker thankful praise,
Whose wondrous works my soul amaze.

Ere into being I was brought,
Thine eye did see, and in Thy thought
My life in all its perfect plan
Was ordered ere my days began.

Thy thoughts, O God, how manifold,
More precious unto me than gold!
I muse on their infinity,
Awaking, I am still with Thee.

The wicked Thou wilt surely slay,
From me let sinners turn away;
They speak against the Name divine,
I count God’s enemies as mine.

Search me, O God, my heart discern,
Try me, my inmost thought to learn;
And lead me, if in sin I stray,
To choose the everlasting way.

Below is a very unique recording of Psalm 139, combining some more modern lyrics with two of the verses above.

Psalm 139 has a lot to say to the believer in the year 2013.  As we look forward into the coming months, will we live out our lives knowing that the Lord has searched us, and that he knows “where’er we rest, where’er we go”?  Will we choose the words that proceed from our mouths realizing that we cannot hide a single one from him?  Will we wholeheartedly trust in his “wondrous knowledge, awful might, unfathomed depth, unmeasured height”?

But Psalm 139 also has words of warning for those who are fleeing from God.  “If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,’ even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.”  Put your trust in the Lord, the one who knitted you together in your mother’s womb!

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as you go forth to serve the Lord in the year 2013, may the psalmist’s prayer never depart from your hearts: “Search me, O God, and know my heart!  Try me and know my thoughts!  And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!”

Happy New Year.

–MRK

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