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Searching for Myself

The Holy Writings  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  40:19
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Jewish Meditation Literature

The Psalms are a fascinating study that informs the reader about emotional ups and downs of faith in God, when going through the positive and negative experiences of life. Often written to one extreme or another, there is little doubt left about where the writer sees themself, sees God and sees the world around them.
If we are willing to let the words pierce our thoughts, we might find ourself facing truths about the world, our life, our decisions and God that leave us a bit uncomfortable. And yet the very same words can make one confident, assured and blessed. Therein lay the power of the words on the page. The Psalm’s have the ability to demonstrate that God’s words are life, in them are life. I don’t mean life as though if you read them you will breathe, rather life in that you recognize the blessing of the world, your place in it and how God interacts with all that we see.
SLIDE:

Searching for Myself

In our searching for God in the scriptures, you end up searching out yourself, and the blessing is when you find yourself in the text, and you are willing to accept what you see.

A brief warning

For many, it is extremely uncomfortable to allow their heart to be scrutinized. We all have a choice: we can welcome or resist God, when the examination begins. Our intuition is to resist allowing anyone or anything to invade our privacy. Why? We have a fear that some depravity will be discovered or minimally, there be some disappointment we create in others.
Our intuitive fears create impenetrable defenses to protect what we know about ourselves from others. For that, we retreat from relationships and mask our true reality. We furiously guard ourselves against divulging too much and we don’t trust anyone but ourselves. In doing so, each of us becomes an island unto ourselves.
All that said, you have a choice today: embrace what this text can reveal about you or resist and carry-on as if nothing has changed.
Psalm 139 is what we are going to look at today. For some of you this Psalm is a bedrock of your faith. For others, this may be new. But I assure you, it may not be what you think. As a note, I am going to use a different bible translation today (Lexham English Bible), one that is considered precise to the meaning of the original language, but that makes it slightly more difficult to read, it loses its poetic nature a bit. That said, bear with me!
SLIDE:
139 For the music director. Of David. A psalm.
1 O Yahweh, you have searched me, and you know me.
2 You know my sitting down and my rising up.
You understand my thought from afar.
3 You search out my wandering and my lying down,
and are acquainted with all my ways.
4 For there is not a word yet on my tongue,
but behold, O Yahweh, you know it completely.
5 You barricade me behind and in front,
and set your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me.
It is set high; I cannot prevail against it.
I want to give you an example of the power of the Psalm. Try this:
Think of a time when you were wrongly accused and you someone, like God, to defend you, then read this
Think of a time when you were guilty, hiding something you wanted no one to discover, then read this
Think of a time when you were confused about why you do what you do, then read this
Do you see how it works in three different frames of mind? This is the power of Hebrew Meditation on the scripture.
All of the sudden, the text is searching you, and if you let your defenses down, it will reveal things about yourself.
Jesus recognized this in John 5:29, which reads, “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.”
Jesus read the scriptures and knew they spoke about him, in a very special way of course, he was the promised Messiah. Consider then what the scripture are going to reveal about you. Let’s continue
SLIDE:
7 Where can I go from your Spirit,
or where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I ascend to heaven, there you are,
and if I make my bed in Sheol, look! There you are.
9 If I lift up the wings of the dawn,
and I alight on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand would lead me,
and your right hand would hold me fast.
11 And if I should say, “Surely darkness will cover me,
and the light around me will be as night,”
12 even the darkness is not too dark for you,
and the night shines as the day—
the darkness and the light are alike for you.
Let’s do this exercise again:
Think of a time when you were wrongly accused and you someone, like God, to defend you, then read this
In other words, I cannot go anywhere to hide what I have done, therefore, you know I am innocent
Think of a time when you were guilty, hiding something you wanted no one to discover, then read this
In other words, I cannot do or think anything away from you, you know I am guilty
Think of a time when you were confused about why you do what you do, then read this
In other words, I cannot seem to locate myself, and I feel all over the place, but you know where I am
Let’s continue.
SLIDE:
13 Indeed you created my ⌊inward parts⌋;
you wove me in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, because I am fearfully
and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works,
and my soul knows it well.
15 My ⌊frame⌋ was not hidden from you,
when I was created secretly,
and intricately woven
in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my embryo,
and in your book they all were written—
days fashioned for me when there was not one of them.
17 And to me, how precious are your thoughts, O God;
how vast is their sum.
18 If I should count them,
they would outnumber the sand.
On a personal note, Psalm 139:13 holds dear memories, because when each of my daughters were born, it was as if I was holding something that had just been formed by God, as though it was a handoff from Him to me. I like those thoughts…and then they become teenagers, 8-year olds and 3-year olds!
Just a bit of insight into some of the language, and another warning. The writers are not modern, we need to be careful to read modern science into these words. Just because modern discoveries of DNA, heartbeats and how a fetus forms, does not mean the writers understood any of that.
For example: the Hebrew word for “inward parts” is the word for the kidney’s. There is a logical reason why. When they were nervous, their stomach would tense up, just like ours. And they knew the insides of humans, there had been enough war for that, and the kidney’s seemed to be located where they would get that sensation in their stomachs. So, when they write about the “inward parts”, the kidney’s, they are writing about human “thoughts” or the “conscience”.
In Psalm 139:15, we have this reference to “frame.” This is referring to the bones, and how he saw himself secretly created and intricately woven in the depths of the earth. On the first few pages of the bible, how was the human formed? From the dust of the earth. The author is just keeping in line with the understanding and beliefs of the day.
Let’s do this exercise again:
Think of a time when you were wrongly accused and you someone, like God, to defend you, then read this
In other words, you made me, you set my days out before me, therefore, you know I am innocent
Think of a time when you were guilty, hiding something you wanted no one to discover, then read this
In other words, you made me, you set my days out before me, you know I am guilty
Think of a time when you were confused about why you do what you do, then read this
In other words, you made me, you set my days out before me, but you know who I am

Something strange happens...

SLIDE:
18 I awaken, and I am still with you.
I did not know the psalmist was asleep!
It is as though there has been an awakening, and the psalmist realizes that he is still in this world, still has enemies all around, people who hate Yahweh.
It is like having a great dream, then someone comes along and wakes you up and you are just mad.
But the psalmist is still with God. They were in a sleep, and God was there. Now they are awake, and God is there. Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide.
And this interruption results in some verses that seem out of place.
SLIDE:
19 If only you would kill the wicked, O God—
so get away from me, you ⌊bloodthirsty men⌋—
20 who speak against you deceitfully.
Your enemies take your name in vain.
21 Do I not hate those who hate you, O Yahweh?
And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?
22 I hate them with a complete hatred;
they have become my enemies.
But, they are not out of place. Applying the same tactic, can we learn something about ourselves?
Think of a time when you were wrongly accused and you someone, like God, to defend you, then read this
In other words, your servant has been falsely accused, you know I am innocent
Think of a time when you were guilty, hiding something you wanted no one to discover, then read this
In other words, I am/was this person, you know I am guilty
Think of a time when you were confused about why you do what you do, then read this
In other words, I am not sure what to think about this, but you know who I am
We opened with a thought…Searching for Myself
SLIDE:

Search Me, Test Me, See Me and Lead Me

SLIDE:
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 And see if there is in me ⌊the worship of false gods⌋,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
There is an extreme trust between the author and God.
SLIDE:
Search me: I welcome the inspection of my thoughts, my body, my soul
Test me: I welcome your test, to try my resolve, so you can see my faithfulness to you
See me: I welcome your watching me and my every move, to see that I am loyal to you
Lead me: Even thought I may know all there is to know about myself and you, I will follow you
Think of how scary it would be to have God just reveal everything about yourself, to yourself.
But don’t be afraid to ask.
Often we search the scriptures, but this little Psalm searches us out.
Here is the amazing part. God knew all there was, is and will be to know about you.
And he sent Jesus into the world to die, be buried and raised again, so that God could be with you, so you could be reunited.
When I allow the scriptures to search myself is quite humbling and awe-inspiring, that God would want me in his presence.
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