Part 3 - Study of Psalm 139
Psalm 139: 13 - 18:
"For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb.
I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works;
and that my soul knoweth right well.
My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret,
and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members
were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.
How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!
If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake,
I am still with thee."
Verse 13: "For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb."
Verse 13 is a transition in the thought.
Having spoken of the possibility of fleeing from God, David now adopts the opposite course
of turning in a personal manner unto God and reflecting upon the fact that God has created him.
Verse 13 begins with a, "for", and this word introduces the reason why God is all-knowing
and also omnipresent, and that reason is found in the fact that God is the creator.
God knows the entirety of the life of David, both his outward existence in the thoughts of his heart.
From God there is no way of escape, and the reason why God possesses this knowledge
and why God is everywhere is simply that God has created all things, and he has created David.
David continues to address God with an emphatic," Thou".
To translate the verb which David uses is not easy.
Here it means "to acquire by creation".
Possibly, we should best translate the word, "create".
David is saying that it is God, and only God, who has created his loins.
The word translated "loins" means simply "the kidneys", and these are conceived
as the seat of the emotions and will.
It is a strange expression to us, but is found in the same sense in other places
in the Old Testament.
In Psalms 7:9 we read: "Oh let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end;
but establish the just: for the righteous God trieth the heart and the reins."
In Psalm 26:2 we read: "Examine me, O Lord, and prove me try my reins and my heart."
The expression, "kidneys", does seem strange.
Yet by using ,this expression David is simply referring to what may be called the seat of his pains
and pleasures, and of his strongest sensibilities.
If God has created the reins, then God has control of David in such a way that
the control reaches to the inmost part of his being.
In the second part of the verse, David wishes to show how God has control over his whole being.
So, what is it that David actually says in this second part of the verse?
The difficulty arises with respect to the verb.
Does David say, "Thou hast covered me"? Or does he say, "Thou hast woven me together"?
The answer to this question is not apparent.
If you look at the old translations of the Bible, such as, for example, the Latin, we find
that they assume that David is saying, "Thou hast covered me."
On the other hand, the verse can also be translated, "to weave", and therefore,
may take it in the sense of interweave, i.e. with sinews, veins and bones.
Yet if the word does referred to the act of weaving, then this is probably the only place
in the Old Testament where the verb has this significance.
Although there is a difference in the force of the two translations,
nevertheless, it is not a crucial difference.
Is David asserting that God has covered him in the womb of his mother,
or rather is he declaring that God has woven him together in the womb of his mother?
Perhaps we cannot tell.
Although it may be that, after all, the old traditional interpretation is correct.
It does have the strength of tradition on its side, and that is not to be considered lightly.
David is speaking of the embryo.
When as yet he was in the womb of his mother before his actual birth, he was in God's control.
And this was not in some vague way, but even then God knew him intimately.
God had either brought together, weaving as it were, the parts of his body,
if we employ the one interpretation, so that he was totally under God's control,
or else God had covered him in the womb of the mother.
He was hidden from human sight, but he was not hidden from God.
Even in this unborn stage, David was in God hands.
It is one thing to speak of creation in general, and it is something else to realize
that God is our personal Creator.
We are not creatures of chance, merely happening in some inexplicable way to appear
upon the scene of history.
We are here, for God has created us, and from the first instant of our creation,
even before our birth, we were totally in His care.
The doctrine of divine providence is a blessed thing.
It teaches that God cares for us.
And the reason why this doctrine is a blessed one is that it goes hand in hand
with the doctrine of creation.
Before birth, while we were yet in the womb of the mother, God watched over our ways,
and the reason why He did this is that it is He that formed us.
He brought the embryo into existence.
From the very beginning then, we were in God's hands.
Verse 14: "I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
marvelous are thy works: and that my soul knoweth right well."
David cannot continue the development of his thought.
It is too great.
It is too vast.
It is too all-embracing.
Before such a God he does what he cannot refrain from doing.
He breaks off in the midst of his argument, and bursts forth into thanksgiving and praise to God.
"I will praise thee", he declares.
Before he can continue to set forth his thought, he must turn his mind
to the all-important work of praising God.
We cannot think of God and His wondrous works without bursting forth into praise.
This is the reason why in so many textbooks of theology, even in the midst of their exposition
of the truth, the author allows his feelings of love and praise to God to break through.
It is well that this is the case.
The man is to be pitied who can discuss subjects about the greatness of God without emotion.
He who knows God and loves Him cannot speak of God without praising Him.
The greatness of God's works of creation calls for the adoration and praise of the human heart.
If we are not moved to praise by the contemplation of God's attributes,
we should examine our hearts to see whether we possess the true knowledge of God.
When the devout heart begins to contemplate the greatness of God,
it loses itself in wonder, love and praise.
Each word of this verse is worthy of particular notice.
The word, "for," introduces the second clause, but in the original Hebrew
the expression contains two words.
We may bring out the thought by translating "upon (the fact) that").
What David means is that the action of his praising God rests upon the fact
that God has made him.
In English, we might use the expression "forasmuch as".
David had a great reason for praising God, and and the reason was the fact of creation.
It is not the creation as such, however, that David ponders, but the creation of himself.
He is a creature of God.
He realizes that God has made him, and has made him in a most wondrous manner.
Yet the language of David's expression is strange.
Perhaps we can best understand it if we translate the Hebrew in a literal fashion.
"Forasmuch as in respect to fearful things I am distinguished."
This is a strain statement, so what does it mean?
What does David wish to assert concerning himself?
Perhaps we should first notice the statement, "I am distinguished".
David is referring to himself as set apart from the lower beings that God has created.
What distinguishes David is that which he calls "fearful things".
These "fearful things" are those things which calls fear and astonishment.
They are the circumstances which surround the coming into being of David.
The growth of the embryo in the womb of the his mother, the mysterious combination
of bones and sinews -- all that is involved in David's coming into being,
and is included in these words, "fearful things".
The birth of a child is awe-inspiring!
In the mother's womb, the strange and wonderful act of conception has taken place.
Life comes into existence.
A growth occurs.
And this embryo will come forth one day from the body of the mother,
and a human being will be born.
These are certainly fearful things.
To think upon them is to began to realize at least to an extent the greatness of God
creating and bringing life into existence.
And we should think upon these things.
The very wonder of the circumstances under which life is conceived and the embryo formed
should produce fear within our hearts, for we are then in the presence
of the Creator, the Author of life.
Having considered the wonder of his own creation,
David then proceeds to a more general contemplation.
Not only is His own being wonderful, but the same may be said of all the works of God.
David is a master of words, and he is in an interesting way using two roots
which are closely related.
The first of these, consisting of the letters P L H, is the root of the word
which can be translated "I am distinguished".
However, the second word is spelled P L A, and this is the root
which can be translated "wonderful".
The two words built upon these roots stands side-by-side.
Possibly the force and significance of this may be brought out in this paraphrase.
"With respect to fearful things I am distinguished, yea, wonderful are (all) thy works."
The words of this last clause appear to be uttered with conviction,
and expresses the strong belief of the speaker.
The works of God to which David refers are, it would seem, in this context,
is primarily those of creation, although it may be that the statement is more general
and intended to include all of God's works, whatever they may be.
In saying that these works are wonderful, David uses a root that is generally used of miracles
which the Lord has performed.
It designates that which is extraordinary and filled with wonder.
So, it is a fitting word to employ of the miracles of God to indicate that
these events are set apart and distinct from the ordinary events, and also that they are wondrous.
All God's deeds are filled with wonder and amazement.
Man cannot grasp them in the sense of comprehending them, for they are so wondrous.
And if all God's deeds are wondrous, particularly is this true of the creation and formation of man.
This is an act that only God can perform.
This act is amazing.
All people do not realize this, but David knows it well, and he wishes
to give strong emphasis to this fact.
"And as for my soul," may be translated "he knows right well".
Whatever may be true of others, David knows that God's deeds are wonderful.
In speaking of his soul, David simply refers to himself.
How did David come to this conviction?
More to the point, we may ask how this conviction has come to David?
The answer is clear.
David was a man after God's own heart.
Despite the enormity of his sins, he loved the Lord and desired His glory.
As a believer in the Lord, David could contemplate himself and all God's works,
and come to the realization that they were wonderful works.
Unlike the unbeliever, David acknowledged that these were works of God.
He did not merely dismiss them offhand with references to nature.
David was a true theist.
These works which aroused his fear and admiration were the works of God.
Will it also be for us, if when we contemplate the ministry of birth, we also tremble,
for we are in the presence of fearful things which God has brought.
Verse 15: "My substance was not hidden from thee, when I was made in secret,
and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth."
In contemplating the wondrous manner in which he has been formed,
David proceeds to assert that from the very beginning he was known to God.
When he says "there was not hidden from thee", he means, "thou didst assuredly see".
This is just another way of declaring that nothing can be hidden from God.
In speaking of his embryo, David employs an interesting word.
It actually means "strength" and as used here refers to bones and sinews
as the strength and frame of the human body.
Even before his birth, God clearly saw the frame of David's being.
In our modern language, we should simply speak of the human embryo.
That this is what David means is shown by the fact that he asserts that God saw his substance
even while it was made in secret.
To man, the embryo is secret.
It is covered over by the womb of the mother.
However, to God it is not in secret or hidden.
His eye clearly sees and He knows the embryo in its every aspect.
David was made in secret, in that his embryo came into being and was formed in the womb
of the mother.
This wonderful fact, so little known and understood by man, is clearly understood
and known to God.
"It is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves."
The origin of our being is in God's hands.
Herein is another evidence of God's omniscience and mighty power.
David adds to what he has just said, in that he declares,
"I was curiously wrought in the lower parts of the earth."
Actually, he speaks of being embroidered.
This is a strange and bold word, but it refers to the mysterious manner
in which the bones and sinews of the human body are knit together.
The emphasis probably falls upon the variegated coloring as shown by the veins of the body.
But what is the meaning of the strange expression, "in the lowest parts of the earth"?
In what sense can it be said that man was "embroidered" or "fashioned"
in the lowest parts of the earth?
Obviously, the phrase stands in parallelism to "in secret".
David was formed in secret and in the depths of the earth.
Therefore, if the phrase "in secret" refers to the womb of the mother,
it would seem also that "the depths of the earth" is a figurative expression for the same thing.
Perhaps, there is an allusion to the fact that man was formed of the dust of the ground,
and the suggestion that the mother's body is dust.
For example, in Job 33:6, Elihu says, "Behold, I am according to thy wish in God's stead;
I also am formed out of the clay."
The mother's womb is of the earth, and so in speaking of being formed of clay,
Elihu means that he has come from the mother's womb.
So the figure simply serves to emphasize that the womb of the mother is a place of darkness
where the body of man is formed.
Verse 16: "Thine eyes didn't see my substance, yet being unperfect;
and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned,
when as yet there was none of them."
This is a difficult verse.
The words "my substance, yet being unperfect", represent just one word in the original Hebrew.
This word is placed first in the sentence for the sake of emphasis.
We pronounce it "golmi".
The word is derived from a verb which means to roll or to roll up,
and so it would seem to refer to something rolled together.
It is usually applied to the human fetus.
Objection has been raised against this interpretation, for it is asserted that to mention
the embryo here does not go well with the remainder of the chapter.
It also has been suggested that the ideal present is that of an embryo rolled
into the shape of an egg.
But that seems to read too much into the word.
Of course the verse is difficult, and the precise force of golmi is certainly difficult.
Nevertheless, it would seem that there is here a reference to the embryo,
although exactly how the embryo is to be conceived is a question that we must leave open.
However, David continues his prayer to God, declaring that God's eyes have seen his embryo.
Throughout the Psalm, we have been thinking of God as one who look down
upon the children of men.
Now, there is a specific reference to God's eyes.
Perhaps, the reference points to the difference between God's eyes and those of men.
The eyes of man cannot behold the mysterious and strange process of the development
of the embryo, for it is hidden to them.
However to God, the body of the mother is not covered.
God's eyes penetrate into the body, so that from Him, nothing can be hidden.
The Psalmist now asserts that upon God's book all of "them" are written down.
So the question is: "All of what?"
The King James Version reads, "all my members were written", but we should notice
that the words "my members" are an italics, and this means that they are not found
in the original Hebrew.
They have simply been inserted into the English translation for the purpose
of making it more readable and understandable.
However, we are dealing with the rugged Hebrew language,
and in the Hebrew we have a problem.
What is written down in God's book?
One way out of the difficulty is to translate the word, golmi, not as embryo, but as bundle,
and to refer it to the days of David's life.
Then we would have the following thought: "Thine eyes did see the bundle of my life,
and upon thy book all these days are written."
This is one possibility for dealing with a difficult problem.
Whether it is the correct possibility or not is another question.
Another way and one which we think has more to commend it is to construe
"all of them" with the word "days" which follows.
Then we get this sense, "Thine eyes did see my embryo, and in thy book all of them,
namely, the days, are written down."
This is possible, and in the light of the various considerations involved,
is probably the best way to bring out the thought of this very difficult verse.
Then, we ask when David asserts that all the days are written upon God's book,
what does that mean?
It has been said that the expression" the book of the Lord"
is somewhat analogous to the Babylonian tablets of destiny, on which the destinies of men were written.
Possibly there is a formal similarity, but the similarity ceases at that point.
The conception of a book of God is found in other places in the Old Testament.
In Psalm 56:8 we read: "Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle:
are they not in thy book?"
Then in Psalm 69:28, we read: "Let them be blotted out of the book of the living,
and not be written with the righteous."
Then in Exodus 32:32, 33 we read: "Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin --;
and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written;
and the Lord said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against me,
him will I blot out of my book."
God has a book.
And in this book, God writes the names of His people.
In the New Testament, this book is referred to as the Lamb's Book of Life,
and only those will enter the heavenly city whose names are written therein.
However, in the Psalm the conception or at least the emphasis is a bit different.
Here the thought is that the entirety of David's being, even including the days of his life,
are inscribed in the book that belongs to God.
By the days of his life, David has in mind all of the vicissitudes that he must experience.
All of his life, each individual day with all that day will bring, is written down by God
in His own book.
Furthermore, it is stated that these days of David's life have been formed
before there were any of them.
If we translate the Hebrew literally, we may notice what an expressive thought is given here.
"Days were formed, and there (was) not one among them."
Expressive as is this thought, it is nevertheless difficult and requires careful consideration.
What is the psalmist actually saying?
If we understand his language correctly, He is saying that the days of his life
were actually formed before even one of them had come into existence.
All his life, the details of each day, had been written down in the book of God,
before any of these days had actually occurred.
Here David has reached a peak in his exultation of the all-knowing and all-powerful God.
Not only does God know all things, but also God has foreordained all things.
In other words, David has brought us into the doctrine of predestination.
A simple definition of predestination is that, as Christians, we are predestined
to share the destiny of Jesus Christ.
So David regards his life wasn't just a chance happening,
but a life already planned by God even before David was born.
All the days that David would live and all the events of each day had been written down
in God's book even before David had come into existence.
Although the language of the verse is difficult, nevertheless, the thought is perfectly clear.
And like the Psalms in general, it gives all glory to God.
No wonder there are those who would like to avoid coming head on
with the clear-cut teaching of this verse.
For example, we are told that there is no theoretical, speculated doctrine of predestination here.
It is true that David does not present the doctrine in a carefully formulated manner,
but the doctrine is present here.
Then again we, are told that what is presented here does not stand in basic conflict
with human freedom.
True, it does not conflict with the fact of human responsibility, but we fear that such statements
as the two just given are made for the purpose of obscuring the clear-cut teaching
of this passage.
When all is said and done, the fact remains, that the doctrine of predestination is taught
in this verse, and there is no legitimate way of removing it.
David's life is not determined by David.
David is not the master of his fate.
David is not the captain of his soul.
And for that matter, neither is anyone else.
Before David appeared upon this earth, the days of his life had been determined by God.
Indeed, all that occurs has been foreordained of God.
God has a plan therefore there are no surprises for God.
He knows what the future will bring, for God has Himself determined that future.
David was to live a life that had been predetermined for him.
David does not rebel at this thought and neither should we.
The contemplation of this profound doctrine leads David to an utterance of the preciousness
of the thoughts of God.
He is willing that it should be as set forth here.
He is content that God has determined in advance his life.
He is content that God has predestinated the course of events for him.
As a devout believer in the Lord, he knows that whatever God does is right.
Nevertheless, there are objections that are constantly raised concerning this.
One question is: "Does this present a mechanistic view of the universe."
Another question is: "Does not this take away from the freedom of the creature?"
Before we even consider such objections, we must remember that our purpose
is not to harmonize the teaching of the Bible with our limited and finite reason.
When we seek to bring the revealed word of God down to the level of our finite reason,
we often do violence to the Scriptures.
There are teachings in the Bible which to our full satisfaction we cannot understand
nor can we even comprehend them.
For that reason, we are not at liberty to reject these teachings.
The important thing for us at this point is to ascertain whether the Bible actually does teach
this doctrine of predestination.
And when we ascertain that it does, we must accept the doctrine with humility
and believing, and even, rejoicing.
At the same time, we may confidently assert that the fact of divine predestination
does not in any sense do violence to our human responsibility.
The Bible is filled with commands addressed to us setting forth what God requires of us.
It is not necessary, and we we do not have the capability to harmonize these commands
with the scriptural emphasis upon divine sovereignty as manifested
in the foreordination of whatsoever comes to pass.
We know that the very fact that God has proclaimed His sovereignty and also responsibility
of the creature is sufficient warrant for us to believe in both.
They find their harmony in God, and that is sufficient for every believer.
We can trust God, and leave the question of harmonizing to Him.
Apparently, David was willing to do just that.
There is something else that we can do.
In the light of this profound teaching of the Bible, we can bow in devout adoration
before our great God.
What a wonderful thing it is to know that the very days of our lives have been written down
in His book even before these days come into existence!
Life is filled with difficulties.
The world about us seems to be in turmoil.
We see desperate people in agony for they know not the meaning of life.
After all, is life just chaotic?
Is it a tale "told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing"?
We know better.
We know that our days are in God's hands.
We can saying with the hymn writer,
"Whate'er my God ordains is right;
Here shall my stand be taken;
Though sorrow, need, or death be mine,
Yet am I not forsaken;
My Father's care is round me there:
He holds believe that I shall not fall,
And so to Him I leave it all."
Verse 17:" How precious also are thy thoughts on to me, O God!
How great is the sum of them!"
What effect does such divine scrutiny and knowledge of David's being and his ways
have upon him.
He calls attention to himself in order that he may state his own reaction.
And the reaction is not surprising.
David does not exhibit any resentment at God's close scrutiny of himself.
Instead, he marvels at the wonder of the incomprehensible thoughts of his great God.
The first words of the verse as they are found in the Hebrew may be translated "and to me".
The thought is: "therefore, as respects me".
In the light of the grandeur of God's thoughts David is willing to show how that applies to him.
He direct our thought to himself, therefore, not in any sense to praise himself,
but rather to show how he reacts to the divine scrutiny and knowledge
of which he has been speaking.
It is well to do for this is a prayer.
It is not a technical statement of the true of God's omniscience and omnipresence,
but rather a presentation of these truths with respect to David himself.
And what is said here concerning David should also apply to all,
who like David, love and reverence the Lord as their God.
So the Psalm exhibits a practical purpose.
It is designed to promote godliness among those who are God's own,
and nothing can produce godliness more effectively than the contemplation of the attributes
of the majestic God of whom this Psalm speaks.
David bursts forth in an emphatic exclamation.
This is not the first time in the Psalms that David has done this.
In Psalm 92:5, David praises the works and thoughts of God:
"O Lord, how great are thy works! And thy thoughts are very deep."
God's lovingkindness calls forth his admiration: "How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God!
Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings." (Psalm 36:7)
This is as it should be.
Anyone who can study and contemplate the deep truths of God and remain
cold and passive reflects a strange attitude.
When we meditate upon these profound facts which the Scripture reveals,
we should be deeply moved.
Our words are not adequate to express the feelings of emotion that should rise up within us
as we come face-to-face with the great truths revealed in these sacred Scriptures.
Anyone who can remain unmoved by these truths and consider them merely
as so many objects of study must indeed have a cold heart.
David was not such a person, nor should we be.
David could not but cry out in wonder for he was overwhelmed by the enormity of the truth
which he was pondering.
David exclaims, "How precious are thy thoughts."
The word basically means "to be heavy", and then comes to have the significance,
"to be valuable".
Some interpreters of the Bible believe that David is speaking here of the difficulty
in understanding God's thoughts.
This interpretation is very old.
It was advanced by the Jewish Rabbi, Kimchi, and in this he has been followed by a number
of the better German expositors.
Nevertheless, this does not seem to be the correct meaning.
David is not expressing astonishment at the difficulty of understanding
or grasping the thoughts of God.
David is expressing his own reaction to these thoughts.
He does not resent them.
He regards them as precious.
They are his own cherished possession.
To think of them and to meditate upon them is his chief delight.
Thoughts of God of which David speaks of those which God has concerning David.
They are thoughts which are constantly directed to David, and which have embraced
and do embrace him in the entirety of his life.
These thoughts which have originated with God revealed how great God is.
They show that He is truly omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent.
In addressing God, David is not content to employ the ordinary word for God.
Instead of that, he uses a word (EL) which stresses the distinction between God and man.
The ordinary word (ELOHIM) may at times be employed of those that are less than God.
Not so the word, EL.
This word is unique.
David is approaching His Creator, One who is infinitely exalted above himself.
He will not use any word that might possibly lead to misunderstanding.
He dares to address God only with the word EL.
Thus he brings out the fact that he is only a creature speaking to the One who is the true God.
The second half of the verse also contains an exclamation, "How great is the sum of them!"
It is difficult to bring out in English the precise force of the Hebrew.
The word "great" may be translated "strong "and refers to the number of God's thoughts.
It probably also includes reflection upon the power and greatness of the thoughts themselves.
David speaks of the sum of these thoughts themselves.
David speaks of the sum of these thoughts, and the actual Hebrew word is the normal word
It may be well if we simply translate this literally, "How has become strong the head of them!"
It would seem that David is uttering his surprise at the power of the thoughts of God.
The total impact which they make upon him is that of strength.
If this is so, it would appear that he is thinking of more than the number of God's thoughts.
Surely these thoughts, at least to David, are numberless, but it is not that alone
which overwhelms him.
It is the strength which the full force of the thoughts makes that staggers him.
The psalmist is impressed by the abundance of revelation from God.
We would never understand our lives if God did not tell us who we are.
Thus even though we have the evidence of design and the evidence of determination,
yet apart from this marvelous revelation of the thoughts of God which fit so perfectly
with the design and the determination, we would never understand ourselves.
Verse 18: "If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand:
when I am awake, I am still with thee."
The thoughts of God are so many that David cannot possibly count them.
Actually David does not use a conditional sentence, "If I should count them".
What he says is far stronger.
He says "I will count them", and then, as though to show the impossibility
of his determination, adds, "they are more in number than sand".
In the Scriptures, sand is an example of what cannot be counted.
For example, the promised to Abraham in Genesis 12:17:
I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven and as the sand
which is upon the seashore
Here the reference to sand is emphatic and is placed first.
"From sand they would be more."
If the thoughts of God are more numerous than the sand, then these thoughts
must be numerous indeed.
These thoughts of God which arouse the adoring wonder of David are before him night and day.
There is no escape from them.
According to this psalm, David has been contemplating the divine thoughts seeking to count them,
and in so doing has become wearied and has fallen asleep.
When he awakes refreshed from this sleep, he makes a discovery that he is still with God,
and God's thoughts are still before him.
It is questionable whether this is the meaning of the verse.
There is nothing here to suggest that David simply counted the thoughts of God,
one by one, as we supposedly sheep when we want to fall asleep,
and that in this counting he became tired out and succumbed to slumber.
Not at all.
First of all, the active counting the thoughts of God means far more than listing these thoughts
and numbering them one, two, three, and so on.
In counting the thoughts of God, David was not merely seeking to find out
how many thoughts God had, but rather was meditating upon these thoughts.
It is true that the verse does stress quantitative aspect of the matter, the number of God's thoughts
in comparison with the sand, but as David proceeds to count or number these thoughts,
he is thinking upon them.
It is not only the number, but also the greatness of the thoughts which impresses him.
Night does not exclude David from the thoughts which God has of him.
When the morning comes, he is still with God.
It is important to note the word, "still", for it implies that the night does not separate
David from God.
To say that when he awakes he is still with God is to imply that he has been
with God right along throughout the night.
In fact, the purpose of the verse is to show that even the night does not separate from God.
During the night as well as in the morning, he is still with God.
"I awake," says Psalmist, "and still am I with thee."
One of the advantages of the knowledge of Hebrew is that it enables a person
to appreciate the similarities the sound which characterize the language.
And here at the close of the verse, there is such a similarity of sound.
The words may be transliterated.
Our transliteration is not entirely satisfactory.
Both of the words begin with the same consonant.
One concludes with a suffix of the first-person (ME), and the other with
a suffix of the second person (THEE).
We may translate, "and still am I with THEE".
This is a forceful way of bringing together David and God.
This concludes Part 3
Links to Psalm 139:
Part 1 - Verses 1 - 6
Part 2 - Verses 7 - 12
Part 3 - Verses 13 - 18
Part 4 - Verses 19 - 24