Where it all Starts

Deuteronomy 1; Psalm 139:23-24

Introduction: I want to introduce the passage I want to use from the theme of Deuteronomy to start this New Year.

  • New Starts / New Beginnings / Fresh Aromas spiritually speaking always begin with examination / repentance

Psalm 139:23-24 ‘Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life’. (NLT)

  • As in Psalm 138, the writer of Psalm 139 announces the threats that befall him and pleads for God’s action (Ps 139:19–22).
  • In this poem, however, the psalmist’s hope rests entirely with the God who knows him, the God with whom he is in relationship.
  • The verb yada‘, “to know,” occurs seven times in the poem (vv. 1, 2, 4, 6, 14, 23 [2x]), thereby repeatedly reinforcing the “I-Thou” relationship between the psalmist and God. This
  • “I-Thou” relationship serves as the “unifying thread” throughout the psalm. (914)
  • This psalm speaks of the pervasive presence of God, and his intimate knowledge of us, which offer us an outsized measure of hope and comfort in the face of adversity and trial.

Transition: So, because He knows….

We’ve moved on from ‘you better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout I’m telling you why.’

  1. Examination

[Search me, O God] The word “search” here is the same as in Ps 139:1. See the notes at that verse. The psalmist had stated the fact that it is a characteristic of God that

  • he “does” search the heart; and
  • he here prays that God “would” exercise that power in relation to himself; that as God could know all that there is within the heart, he would examine him with the closest scrutiny, so that
  • he might be under no delusion or self-deception; that he might not indulge in any false hopes; that he might not cherish any improper feelings or desires.

This prayer denotes 2 things:

  1. The prayer denotes great “sincerity” on the part of the psalmist.
  2.  It also indicates self-distrust. It is an expression of what all must feel who have any just views of themselves-that the heart is very corrupt; that we are liable to deceive ourselves; and that the most thorough search “should” be made that we be “not” deceived and lost.

II. Recognition – ‘Know Me’

[And know my heart] Know or see all that is within it.

[Try me] As metal is tried or proved that is put to a “test” to learn what it is. The trial here is that which would result from the divine inspection of his heart.

Transition: Search, Know; now, evaluate

  1. Evaluation

[And know my thoughts] See what they are.

The word rendered “thoughts” occurs only in one other place, Ps 94:19.

The idea is, Search me thoroughly.

He must be a very sincere man who prays that God will search his thoughts, for there are few who would be willing that their fellowmen, even their best friends, should know all that they are thinking about.

  • examine not merely my outward conduct,
  • but what I think about;
  • what are my purposes;
  • what passes through my mind;
  • what occupies my imagination and my memory;
  • what secures my affections and controls my will.

Psalms 139:24

[And see if there be any wicked way in me]

Margin, “way of pain,” or “grief.”

The Hebrew word properly means an image, an idol (Isa 48:5), but it also means pain, 1 Chron 4:9; Isa 14:3.

The word in the form used here does not occur elsewhere.

Gesenius (Lexicon) renders it here idol-worship. DeWette, “way of idols.” Prof. Alexander, “way of pain.”

The Septuagint and Vulgate, “way of iniquity.” So Luther. The Syriac, “way of falsehood.” Rosenmuller, “way of an idol.”

According to this, the prayer is that God would search him and see if there was anything in him that partook of the nature of idolatry, or of defection from the true religion; any tendency to go back from God, to worship other gods, to leave the worship of the true God.

As idolatry comprehends the sum of all that is evil, as being alienation from the true God, the prayer is that there might be nothing found in his heart which tended to alienate him from God-would indicate unfaithfulness or want of attachment to him.

Transition: After all the examination and evaluation there comes the prayer for Correction.

  1. Direction

[And lead me in the way everlasting]

  • The way which leads to eternal life;
  • the path which I may tread forever.

In any other way than in the service of God his steps must be arrested. He must encounter his Maker in judgment, and be cut off, and consigned to woe.

The path to heaven is one which man may steadily pursue; one, in reference to which death itself is really no interruption-for the journey commenced here will be continued through the dark valley and continued forevermore.

Death does not interrupt the journey of the righteous for a moment. It is the same journey continued as when we cross a narrow stream and are on the same path still.

Five Lessons from Psalm 139:

  1. We are intimately known.
  2. Scrutiny should be sincere.
  3. God’s truth and ways deter self-deception.
  4. Investigation is thorough (searches all aspects; motives, memory, purpose).
  5. Idolatry is still #1 hinderance to truth / purity / clarity.
  6. Spiritual Life is a path / movement / journey / service continued.
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