No matter how many times you read the Bible, no matter how much you think you know, there will always be new discoveries to make. It’s an old story that never gets old. And so it’s been with me here lately in the Book of Psalms.
Many people love the Psalms and Proverbs, even if they rarely enjoy other Old Testament books. Our church has been studying through Psalms on Sunday nights. For the first time in my life I have a pastor that is a few years younger than I am. He often defers to me as an authority on the scriptures. But I have to tell you this: Psalm 139 the other night – blew… my… mind.
In the Old Testament God appeared in the pillar of fire, or the burning bush, or in clouds with thunder and lightening. Most of the time humanity was separated from God’s presence by the veil in the tabernacle/temple. In the Gospels Jesus walks the face of the earth as incarnate deity – God with us – and for the rest of the New Testament Christians were filled with the Holy Spirit. In the Old Testament God was in one place at a time; they didn’t know God as we do. Jesus said to his followers “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” The disciples waited in the upper room for the promise, not even sure of what they were waiting for. The Hebrews of the Old Testament didn’t think of God in terms of a personal relationship, and they certainly didn’t know anything about the Holy Spirit. We all know these things, right? (Don’t answer, it’s a set up.)
This link is to all of Psalm 139. It’s all good, but look specifically at verses 7 and 8:
Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
David recognizes that he cannot hide from God’s presence. He is everywhere, omnipresent, at all times. Note that Spirit is capitalized, the way we might refer to the Spirit in the New Testament. There are two amazing things going on here. One, David has incredible wisdom and insight for a person living under the Old Covenant. While not a prophet, it is clear in the life of David that God’s anointing is on him. (We are told explicitly that God’s favor left Saul and was placed on David.) He is identified as a man after God’s own heart. David was also a poet and a musician, and his emotions come pouring out of his writing. This is a person that cries out to God, rejoices aloud, and in short has a more “personal relationship” with God than most of us.
The other amazing thing here is to be reminded that all scripture is given by the inspiration of God. No matter which author penned it, God is the author of his Word. Christmas is upon us; just think about Genesis, Isaiah, Micah, Jeremiah and others prophesying the birth of Messiah. Read Isaiah 53 and keep in mind that crucifixion was Roman and hadn’t been invented yet. The person who claims the Bible was written by men for the purpose of controlling others has eyes that are spiritually blind.
The Word of God is practically a living, breathing thing. We do ourselves a great disservice by not spending time in it.