So, how is your New Year going so far now that we are almost half way through January? Mine has been fairly quiet. Even my muse seems to be taking a rest from the surge of blog posts I published on both of my blogs in December. It’s been rather relaxing, and nothing feels overly pressing at the moment. And, since I made no New Year’s resolutions for this year, the pressure is off to keep them going… 🙂
Ten days ago I found a small, nicely bound copy in red faux leather of “The Psalms and Proverbs” in a version of the Bible I was unfamiliar with–The Passion Translation, 2017, by Dr. Brian Simmons, Bible teacher, linguist, minister, and former missionary; and published by Broadstreet Publishing Group, LLC. It was a brand new copy priced at $10.00 (originally $25.00) at Half Price Books, and I just love finding a great bargain price on books.
If you are interested in finding out more about The Passion Translation, here is a link to the following article titled, “Revealing the Heart of God in ‘The Passion Translation,'” by Beth Patch, Senior Spiritual Life Internet producer/editor at CBN.com. Another article titled, “The Passion ‘Translation’ Debate: Brian Simmons Responds,” by Andrew Wilson, Teaching Pastor at King’s Church in London, for those familiar with the debate regarding The Passion Translation, is available at this link. There is also version information located at BibleGateway.com at this link.
The Psalms has always been my “go to” book in the Bible whenever I’m feeling–well–any particular emotion whether I’m happy or sad or confused or elated or joyful or doubtful or (fill in the blank). The introduction in another book I found in December (for half price!) at LifeWay Christian Bookstore titled, “100 Days in The Psalms,” by B&H Publishing Group editorial staff, states the following regarding the Book of Psalms:
The placement of the psalms at the center of the Bible is most certainly no happy accident of bookmaking physics. This collection of worship songs, desperate prayers, angry tirades, and hope-filled declarations–in many ways they represent the natural output that should flow from all the story and teaching that exist on either side of it in Scripture.
The psalms document the believer’s struggle. They celebrate the believer’s triumph. They dig deeply into the believer’s heart. And in the end, they praise the believer’s God. They cover just about all the bases of the believer’s life.
So while you’ve most likely had at least some experience and exposure to everything you’re about to read from this intensely personal, poetic book of Scripture, prepare to visit themes that will strike you with a right-this-morning flavor of relevance.
For whether you choose to read them one a day, or a couple a week, or at whatever speed you choose to take it, you’ll be keeping the Word in the center of each moment.
Since the psalms are what you’re reading, you’ll know God will probably be getting even more central with you than that. (Quote source: “100 Days in The Psalms,” Introduction, page 1.)
Now that I’ve gotten the above out of the way as an introduction, this afternoon I picked up my red faux leather covered copy of “The Psalms and Proverbs” and opened it to where the page marker ribbon was located, which was at the beginning of Psalm 139. This particular psalm is where the title of this blog post came from. It is a psalm attributed to King David and it is subtitled, in The Passion Translation version, “You Know All About Me.”
Now perhaps you are someone who is thinking, “But I don’t want God to know all about me.” Or maybe you don’t even believe in God at all, or maybe you’re like me, and you’ve been walking this road called life as a believer for a very long time, and that is why the psalms have become your “go to” place like they have become mine when I honestly don’t know where else to turn, or when I just need an encouraging word, or to be reminded that God doesn’t miss anyone or anything that is going on in this world of ours. So today I opened this new translation and read Psalm 139, and here is what it has to say to me and to you, too:
Lord, you know everything there is to know about me.
You perceive every movement of my heart and soul,
and you understand my every thought before it even enters my mind.
You are so intimately aware of me, Lord.
You read my heart like an open book
and you know all the words I’m about to speak
before I even start a sentence!
You know every step I will take before my journey even begins.
You’ve gone into my future to prepare the way,
and in kindness you follow behind me
to spare me from the harm of my past.
With your hand of love upon my life,
you impart a blessing to me.
This is just too wonderful, deep, and incomprehensible!
Your understanding of me brings me wonder and strength.
Where could I go from your Spirit?
Where could I run and hide from your face?
If I go up to heaven, you’re there!
If I go down to the realm of the dead, you’re there too!
If I fly with wings into the shining dawn, you’re there!
If I fly into the radiant sunset, you’re there waiting!
Wherever I go, your hand will guide me;
your strength will empower me.
It’s impossible to disappear from you
or to ask the darkness to hide me,
for your presence is everywhere, bringing light into my night.
There is no such thing as darkness with you.
The night, to you, is as bright as the day;
there’s no difference between the two.
You formed my innermost being, shaping my delicate inside
and my intricate outside,
and wove them all together in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, God, for making me so mysteriously complex!
Everything you do is marvelously breathtaking.
It simply amazes me to think about it!
How thoroughly you know me, Lord!
You even formed every bone in my body
when you created me in the secret place,
carefully, skillfully shaping me[f] from nothing to something.
You saw who you created me to be before I became me!
Before I’d ever seen the light of day,
the number of days you planned for me
were already recorded in your book.
Every single moment you are thinking of me!
How precious and wonderful to consider
that you cherish me constantly in your every thought!
O God, your desires toward me are more
than the grains of sand on every shore!
When I awake each morning, you’re still with me.
O God, come and slay these bloodthirsty, murderous men!
For I cry out, “Depart from me, you wicked ones!”
See how they blaspheme your sacred name
and lift up themselves against you, but all in vain!
Lord, can’t you see how I despise those who despise you?
For I grieve when I see them rise up against you.
I have nothing but complete hatred and disgust for them.
Your enemies shall be my enemies!
God, I invite your searching gaze into my heart.
Examine me through and through;
find out everything that may be hidden within me.
Put me to the test and sift through all my anxious cares.
See if there is any path of pain I’m walking on,
and lead me back to your glorious, everlasting ways—
the path that brings me back to you. (Source: Psalm 139, TPT.)
One of the differences I see between the times of King David in the Old Testament and how we are to live as believers since Jesus arrived in the New Testament and taught us to love our enemies is just that–loving our enemies instead of hating them. So when I run into any verses from the Old Testament like verses 19-22 in Psalm 139 above referencing hating our enemies (the text of those four verses is in gray type above), I always remember that Jesus came and changed that when he told us to love our enemies in Matthew 5:43-48 and Luke 6:27-36, and to remember to “Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:31). The words of Jesus in the Matthew portion states:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” —Matthew 5:43:48, NIV
In an imperfect world in which we live, I find the words in Psalm 139 typed above in blue type to be of great comfort. I have no idea what it’s like to not believe since I have believed in God and Jesus Christ since I was a young girl. Lots of people have believed as kids especially here in America where there is a church located on almost every street corner, and yet many have walked away from it as adults or tucked it away in their back pockets somewhere as they lived their lives on their own terms. And it’s not that I didn’t have my moments when I was younger or falter on many occasions or that my knees don’t still grow weak or knock at times from all that is going on in our culture, and especially during what has occurred in my own life in the past decade, but I have never lost my faith in the God of Psalm 139 and the rest of the Bible.
Mockers are always out there (even among the Christian crowd); however, they have always been out there, too. Folks who don’t understand or don’t want to understand can ridicule relentlessly, but where do they turn when the bottom falls out of their own lives? I sometimes ponder that question when I find myself in the midst of those who don’t believe or mock what they can’t possibly understand because of their own lack of faith. Of course, there is a lot of stuff going on in our society today, too, and there is no way to comprehend it all.
So my “go to” book is the Psalms; and maybe it’s yours, too. There you will find every human emotion possible splashed across it’s pages. You can let your hair down reading the psalms and not have to worry about “doing the right thing” according to whoever is the latest person to frown in your direction because you don’t measure up to whatever standard they are measuring you by. Church can be a hard place to go sometimes, but God never is, and you’ll find Him in the psalms.
So, if you’re still contemplating making a late New Year’s resolution, maybe you can add getting to know the God of the Psalms. I can think of no better place to run to in good times and in bad.
I’ll end this post with the opening verses from Psalm 121 (verses 1 and 2), NIV: I lift up my eyes to the mountains; where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord . . .
The Maker . . .
Of heaven and earth . . . .
YouTube Video: “Psalm 139–Far Too Wonderful” by Shane and Shane: