Our “Know-It-All” God

Psalm 139:1-6


We use "know-it-all" pejoratively, but it is a term ultimately true concerning God. David deals with the concept of omniscience here — the idea that God knows everything. Verse 1 expresses it ("you have searched me and known").

  1. The Extent of Omniscience
    1. To our movements
      1. "My downsitting/uprising" (v. 2) ("when I sit/when I stand" NIV)
      2. "My path and my lying down" (v. 3) ("my going out" NIV)
      3. "All my ways" (v. 3)
    2. To our thoughts
      1. "Thou understandeth my thought afar off" (v. 2)
      2. Afar off — even when my thoughts are far off, before they are framed, even when still unknown to me
      3. Thoughts are springs of feelings, words, actions, character
    3. To our actions
      1. "And art acquainted with all my ways" (v. 3)
      2. "You are familiar with all my ways" (v. 3 NIV)
    4. To our words
      1. "For there is not a word in my tongue" (v. 4)
      2. "Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely" (v. 4 NIV)
  2. The Operation of Omniscience
    1. Observation of the minute and unimportant
      1. When I sit down and when I stand up
      2. Includes even things unimportant to me
    2. Knowledge of thought and motive
      1. God knows what they have been, what they are now, what they will be, what they would have been
      2. God — and only God — knows what is behind our thoughts
    3. Investigation of our ways
      1. "Thou compassest" (v. 3) (to winnow, sift out; "you discern" NIV)
      2. God takes notice of every step we take
      3. "Going out and lying down" (NIV) — public/private life
    4. Estimation of our words
      1. "Before a word is on my tongue, you know it completely" (v. 4 NIV)
      2. Negative used to make positive stronger
      3. Includes all that I say, all that I have power to say, all that I am tempted to say
    5. Remembrance of the past; acquaintance with the future (v. 5)
      1. God has hemmed us in behind, recording our transgressions or blotting out our sins
      2. God has blocked us out before, foreknowing all our needs and providing for all of them
    6. Watchful scrutiny, careful examination: "And laid thine hand" (v. 5)
      1. Covers all of life
      2. Deals on a moment-by-moment basis
  3. The Meaning of Omniscience
    1. Awe — should beget reverence (v. 6)
      1. Literally, "wonderful knowledge of the God away from me"
      2. We see the most of God when we recognize Him as incomprehensible
    2. Comfort
      1. This is the tenor of the entire Psalm
      2. Should give great encouragement; He knows all about it when no one else understands and even when you can't express it
    3. Caution
      1. Should make us careful
      2. Should condition all of life


"What a mighty God we serve."