The term omniscience is a theological term which means that God knows all things.
When we say that God is omniscient we are saying that God’s knowledge is all-comprehensive. You don’t want to play trivial pursuit with God. He knows everything. There is not a single fact in this universe that God does not know.
I’m sure for many of you that’s a familiar thought. In fact, I’m guessing some of you, before we turn to a passage like Psalm 139 could have told me what it’s about.
The problem with familiar thoughts is that we often take them for granted.
When we get into difficult personal situations we usually respond by looking for something new. We think the reason we are having problems is because there is some stunning new piece of information out there that we’ve never heard before that contains the key to solving all our problems.
We’re kind of like most poor golfers. If you are a bad golfer, you are always looking for that next magical club that is going to somehow improve your game. And you are willing to spend some serious cash to get that club, because you think if only I could get that club, all the sudden I would be Tiger Woods.
And you know there may be times when what you need is something new. There are times when you are in a difficult situation and you are struggling because of ignorance, you do need a new “club,” but many times, especially if you’ve been a Christian for a while, and have sat under good teaching for a period of time, the problem is not so much that you need some new piece of information, but that you haven’t properly understood and applied the old information you already know. In other words, you don’t need to go out and buy a whole new set of clubs, you need to learn to use the ones you already have. You need to know what you know.
One of the reasons we struggle applying the truth we already know is because we tend to think of truth so abstractly. That’s easy to do with a doctrine like God’s omniscience. We can sit around and say “God knows all things. God knows everything in the past, everything in the present, everything in the future.” And yet when life gets difficult, we never see how it applies to us, how it should change the way we react to our situation.
In verses 1-6 of Psalm 139, this doctrine of God’s omniscience is not this stuffy old truth David debates in the back of a seminary classroom; instead he views God’s omniscience as a most practical truth, this is a truth he takes and applies to himself as he struggles to understand the chaos that has become his life.
God is omniscient and this is what it means for me.
It means that he knows me personally.
Check out all the personal pronouns…“Oh Lord you have searched me…You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you understand my thought from far.” David is not simply finding comfort in the fact that God knows all things, he finds comfort in the fact that God knows him, personally.
What’s true for David is also true for us. Hebrews 4:13 tells us there is not a creature hidden from his sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do…Psalm 33:13 says the Lord looks from heaven, He sees all the sons of men. From His dwelling place He looks out on all the inhabitants of earth.
God searched David, and He knew David. And God searches you, and He knows you, personally.
The words David uses here emphasize the fact that God does not merely know us in a superficial way. We’re not just another number to him, another face in the crowd.
He says, “God you have searched me…” The word for search means to investigate or examine. It’s used in Job 28:3 to describe the way miners dig down into the earth; and over in Judges 18:2 of the way explorers spy out a land; and in Proverbs 25:2 of a king inquiring into a difficult, complex intellectual problem. When David says God has searched him, he is saying God has performed a minute and thorough examination of David’s heart. The emphasis is on thorough.
David is painting a picture and the picture he is painting is of a God who is intimately involved with the lives of those He has created.
There are some who think of God as far removed from His creation, and there are some people who believe in God but don’t really think he knows them or cares about them at all, but David here shows us the truth is the complete opposite. God is so involved with His creation that He actually searches it out. He’s not up in heaven unaware of what is going on on earth or in our hearts. He knows us absolutely and completely.
That’s a pretty remarkable thought. We serve a God who knows.
God knows you.
Don’t allow your mind to run away from that. Try to get your arms around it. I like how Charles Spurgeon puts it, he says, Listen, “God sees you—selecting any one out of this congregation—he sees you, he sees you as much as if there were nobody else in the world for him to look at. If I have as many people as there are here to look at, of course my attention must be divided; but the infinite mind of God is able to grasp a million objects at once, and yet to set itself, as much upon one, as if there were nothing else but that one; so that you, this morning, are looked at by God as much as if throughout space there were not another creature but yourself. Can you conceive that? Suppose the stars blotted out in darkness, suppose the angels dead; imagine the glorified spirits above are all gone, and you are left alone, the last man, and there is God looking at you. What an idea it would be for you to think of—that there was only you to be looked at! how steadily he could observe you! how well he would discern you! But mark you, God does really look at you this morning as much, as entirely, as absolutely without division of sight, as if you were the only being his hands had ever made. Can you grasp that? God sees you with all his eyes, with the whole of his sight—you—you—you—you are the particular object of his attention at this very moment. God’s eyes are looking down upon you; remember that!”
David finds comfort in that. In the midst of all the uncertainty of his life, as he’s confronted by the fact that there’s so much he does not know, he finds comfort in the fact that there is One who does know. God knows David personally. And what’s amazing – we know Scripturally – that’s not just true for David – that’s true for each one of us.