August 23rd, 2022 – Later Tuesday Afternoon
“Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me and know my anxious thoughts;
And see if there be any hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way.” ~Psalm 139:23-24
David was known as a man after God’s own heart despite his many flaws and failures. Why? I think it was because of his humility and tenderness to the LORD. Yes, David did fail miserably and, yes, he committed some gross and atrocious crimes; yet, when he was confronted with his sin, he repented again and again and sought the LORD’s mercy, grace, and restoration. And, although we remember his [often] public sins, we also remember his mercy, his brokenness, his faithfulness, and his trust in the LORD. As we look at our passage today, we can easily see an example of the heart that David had cultivated and embraced.
Towards the end of a Psalm filled with reflection on the LORD’s sovereignty, knowledge, and care, David focuses his attention on the wicked and his hatred of those who hate the LORD (v.19-22). He went on a bit of a tirade against them before turning his attention back on himself and the LORD. The verses above make up this final Godward focus and they conclude David’s Psalm.
So what exactly is David asking the LORD in this passage? First off, David asks the LORD to search (or investigate) and to know his heart (not just knowing him, but knowing his very heart, mind, etc.). Obviously, the LORD already knows David’s heart (since He knows every heart), but David’s invitation reveals his sincere desire for transparency and nearness to the LORD. Secondly, David asks God to try (examine, scrutinize) and know his anxious thoughts (disquieting and perhaps secret thoughts). Again, the LORD already knows David’s thoughts, but David’s request indicates his openness to the LORD’s judgment and testing.
David’s third request in this passage is that God would see (perceive) whether there was any hurtful (seemingly in the context of wicked or idolatrous) way in David. This third request summarizes his previous requests, but it also takes it to the next level; David is not just interested in the LORD knowing his heart and testing his mind – no, it is clear that David is seeking to be right in the eyes of the LORD. This leads into the final observation from this passage: David ends by asking God to lead (guide) him in the everlasting way. It is not just that David wants to be justified before the LORD; rather, David desires to submit to and follow after the LORD in His ways.
When is the last time you and I had this kind of intentional attitude before the LORD? When did we last stop everything else in order to humble ourselves before God, verbally cry out for His testing and trying, and willfully choose to submit ourselves to Him? If you are in Christ Jesus, you and I have a GREAT advantage over David; we are indwelt by the Spirit of God as adopted children of the Living God. Yet, I am afraid that David’s attitude here (and so many other places) puts us to shame. We, of all people, ought to be cultivating and seeking God’s work in our hearts and minds with a desperate and sincere attitude of humility.
My beloved friends, let us go our own way no longer. Instead, let us turn our full attention on the King – inviting His scrutiny, trial, and investigation with a tender heart – so that we might be the sanctified vessels Jesus died to redeem and whom the Spirit came to fill. It won’t be easy, but it is wonderful. Thank You, Father!