“All The Big Ones”  Psalm 139

Twelfth Sunday After Pentecost  August 27-28, 2022

“All The Big Ones”  Psalm 139

Rev. John R. Larson  Ascension Lutheran Church  Littleton, Colorado


            Do you have a verse from the Scriptures that is your verse?  You know, a verse that when it comes to your mind, it changes your day?  Or, do you have a chapter from the Bible that is your chapter?  When you read that chapter, a strength and a calm comes over you.

            John 3:30 has become a central verse in my life.  It says, “He must become greater; I must become less.”  To me I find the answer to my place and position in life, the motive for living, who I am and most importantly – who Jesus is to me.

            I have a friend who has told me that Romans 8 is the greatest chapter in the entire Bible.  Romans 8, the chapter that begins with the word, “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”, and ends with, “I am convinced that neither life nor death, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future…will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord”, (Verses 1, 38-39) is a great and powerful chapter.

            So is this one.  Psalm 139.  It is called “The crown of all psalms”.  Why?  I think it has been given that title because it has all the big teachings of the Bible in only 24 verses.  Omniscience.  Omnipresence.  Omnipotence.  Omniscience – All knowing.  Omnipresence – Present everywhere.  Omnipotence – All powerful.  All the big ones in one chapter.

            God’s amazing attribute of omniscience is where this begins, “O Lord, you know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.  You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.  Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord.”  (Verses 2-4)

            Before we even think of something, God knows what is rolling around in this noggin.  Before the word comes out of our mouth God knows what we are going to say.  In the book of Jeremiah God asks this question to His people, “Can anyone hide in secret places so that I cannot see him?  (23:24a)  The answer is: NO!!

            Here is another big one about who God is – omnipresence – present everywhere.  He is present right here, right now, and He is with the folks a thousand miles from here.  At the same time, He is in this place and in that place and in the billions upon billions of places in between.  The psalmist uses three different extremes to speak about this truth of our God being everywhere.  “Where can I go from your Spirit?  Where can I flee from your presence?  If I go the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths you are there.  If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.  If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,’ even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is at light to you.”  (Verses 7-12)

            He uses the contrasts of north and south – heavens and depths, east and west – the dawn and the far side of the sea, and then darkness and light, and says that God is always present.  Any situation.  Any time.  “Even the darkness will not be dark to you.”

            All the big truths about who our great God is are here, in this psalm, #139.  Knowing everything.  Present everywhere.  And then this one.  Omnipotent.  All powerful.  Here’s a mind bender for you – Can God make a boulder so heavy that He can’t lift it?  (I’m going to research that one and I’ll let you know the answer when I’m smarter than I am today.) 

            The power of God is seen in these words, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well…When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body.  All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.  How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!  How vast is the sum of them.”  (Verses 13-17)

            In some of the other psalms that we have read this summer (Psalm 19 and others), the power of God is seen in the big stuff He has made, now it is in the smallest – our body being formed in the womb of our mother, being knit together, woven by God’s perfect design.  Of all the big things that God can do, it is the smallest – the conception of a child and the development in the womb – that may be His greatest physical work.

            We have all the big things about God mentioned in the first 18 verses of this psalm.  6 verses for omniscience.  6 verses for omnipresence.  6 verses for omnipotence.  But the ending seems odd.  The last 6 verses include words like, “If only you would slay the wicked, O God…Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord, and abhor those who rise up against you?”  (19a, 21)  John Stott in his book Favorite Psalms writes, “Many Christian readers feel that this sudden prayer sounds a jarring note after what has gone before.  Yet it is perfectly consistent with it.  When a person’s world is full of God, they long for the elimination of evil.”  (Page 121)

            “All the big ones”, all the great truths about who our God is, include how God despises evil, harm, sin and anything that stands against His desire to bring full life, real life, to you and me and all in this world.

            A number of women in our congregation receive Lutheran Women’s Quarterly regularly.  It is the magazine distributed by Lutheran Women in Mission – the LWML.  In the fall issue read by women from one coast to another, an article written by Marjean Carpenter, a member of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Loveland, was included.  Marjean, when she was in her 30’s, with 4 young children, bumped her leg on a tricycle, and something odd happened from such a little bump. Not long after that she found herself with an unbearable pain.  It seems that her long bones were not solid and benign tumors were attached to those bones.  She required multiple surgeries, some repeated more than once.  She said that her unexpected bone condition and the long process of recovery led her to this psalm, Psalm 139.  Verses such as, “You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar…Where go I go from your Spirit?  Where can I flee from your presence?  If I go to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there” proved life-giving to her.

            For years Marjean was an occupational health nurse and for a decade a Parish nurse, serving in her congregation’s school and among the many members at Immanuel.  But 40 years after the initial bone disease showed up, it again returned.  When she was 75 it affected her neck and her spine.  Now she is 85, and though she has slowed down, she is an inspiration to many people.  Marjean, in writing her article begins with the words, “I am a Psalm 139 woman!”

            A Psalm 139 woman.  A Psalm 139 man.  A Psalm 139 teenager.  A Psalm 139 child.  Is that what you can say about yourself?  That is what we get to be.

            A Psalm 139 person has a Psalm 139 God.  He cares for us so much that before we even speak a word He knows it completely.  He cares us so much that when we are surrounded by darkness, it isn’t dark to Him.  He cares for us so much that we can look at our uniqueness, or even our oddities, and say, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

            God, in just a few verses, gives us His words about all the big things we can count on from Him.  His knowledge of our life and what lies ahead, and His presence in our life no matter where we are at, and His power to take care of us in big or small matters, tells us that He is a Psalm 139 God, and we are Psalm 139 people.

            How do I know this is true about Him and for us?  He sent Jesus.  Jesus is this God of Psalm 139.  And us?  We’re His people.

            If you haven’t settled on a favorite chapter in the Bible, you might want to look at this chapter closely.  It might fit you perfectly.  Amen!!





1 comment

  1. Linda Marquez says:



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