PSALM 139*

The All-knowing and Ever-present God

1For the leader. A psalm of David.


LORD, you have probed me, you know me:

2you know when I sit and stand;*a

you understand my thoughts from afar.

3You sift through my travels and my rest;

with all my ways you are familiar.

4Even before a word is on my tongue,

LORD, you know it all.

5Behind and before you encircle me

and rest your hand upon me.

6Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,

far too lofty for me to reach.b

7Where can I go from your spirit?

From your presence, where can I flee?

8If I ascend to the heavens, you are there;

if I lie down in Sheol, there you are.c

9If I take the wings of dawn*

and dwell beyond the sea,*

10Even there your hand guides me,

your right hand holds me fast.

11If I say, “Surely darkness shall hide me,

and night shall be my light”*

12Darkness is not dark for you,

and night shines as the day.

Darkness and light are but one.d


13You formed my inmost being;

you knit me in my mother’s womb.e

14I praise you, because I am wonderfully made;

wonderful are your works!

My very self you know.

15My bones are not hidden from you,

When I was being made in secret,

fashioned in the depths of the earth.*

16Your eyes saw me unformed;

in your book all are written down;f

my days were shaped, before one came to be.


17How precious to me are your designs, O God;

how vast the sum of them!

18Were I to count them, they would outnumber the sands;

when I complete them, still you are with me.g

19When you would destroy the wicked, O God,

the bloodthirsty depart from me!h

20Your foes who conspire a plot against you

are exalted in vain.


21Do I not hate, LORD, those who hate you?

Those who rise against you, do I not loathe?i

22With fierce hatred I hate them,

enemies I count as my own.

23Probe me, God, know my heart;

try me, know my thoughts.j

24See if there is a wicked path in me;

lead me along an ancient path.*

* [Psalm 139] A hymnic meditation on God’s omnipresence and omniscience. The psalmist is keenly aware of God’s all-knowing gaze (Ps 139:16), of God’s presence in every part of the universe (Ps 139:712), and of God’s control over the psalmist’s very self (Ps 139:1316). Summing up Ps 139:116, 1718 express wonder. There is only one place hostile to God’s rule—wicked people. The psalmist prays to be removed from their company (Ps 139:1924).

* [139:2] When I sit and stand: in all my physical movement.

* [139:9] Take the wings of dawn: go to the extremities of the east. Beyond the sea: uttermost bounds of the west; the sea is the Mediterranean.

* [139:11] Night shall be my light: night to me is what day is to others.

* [139:15] The depths of the earth: figurative language for the womb, stressing the hidden and mysterious operations that occur there.

* [139:24] Lead me along an ancient path: the manner of living of our ancestors, who were faithful to God’s will, cf. Jer 6:16.

a. [139:2] 2 Kgs 19:27; Jb 12:3.

b. [139:6] Ps 131:1.

c. [139:8] Jb 23:89; Jer 23:2324.

d. [139:12] Jb 12:22.

e. [139:13] Wis 7:1; Eccl 11:5; Jb 1:21.

f. [139:16] Mal 3:16.

g. [139:18] Jb 11:7.

h. [139:19] Jb 21:14.

i. [139:21] Ps 119:158.

j. [139:23] Ps 17:3; 26:2.

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