Search me, O God, and know my heart (Psalm 139:23)

I expect many are familiar with this typical scene in a police television drama or movie. A suspect is slammed against a car or a wall so the officers of the law can feel up and down the alleged criminal’s body, searching for weapons or possible contraband.  Whether the person is guilty or innocent, the forced search creates a picture of powerless submission, and the outcome is always certain: if the person is hiding something, it will be found.

The psalmist invites a search of a very different kind, but it is one that is no less vulnerable or purposeful.  It is the request of someone who knows himself to be a sinner, and no force by God is needed for the submission.  I can think of sporadic times in my life when I have been fully open to such a search, to having a bright light illuminate the darkest parts of my soul.  In those times, I have experienced horror, humility, awe and security all together.  More often, though, I have habitually selected what I can handle revealing to God, and offer up my limited, albeit sincere confession.  My editing and hiding, of course, are ridiculous, and Psalm 139 is an abiding reminder that God’s presence cannot be escaped, nor can his scrutiny (see also Heb 4:13).  This could render a believer immobilized with fear, unless the Lord’s constant and thoughtful guard is seen for the protection and security that it is (139:17-18). Having previously acknowledged that the Lord already conducted a thorough inspection (139:1), the writer opens his heart for more, asking for a deeper search, expressing by faith the knowledge that a continuous examination will lead him in the way everlasting (139:24).

Being searched from head to toe and inside out is not something ordinarily thought of as comfortable.  God’s watch over us, though, is an expression of his care meant to comfort us.  When we acknowledge his presence and sovereignty, and accept that we fall short of his glory (Rom 3:23), an eagerness for being searched will result. Having our hidden ways brought to light will not feel like a violent, invasive assault, but rather an intimate embrace with the one who knows all and still loves us.

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Anonymous Authors


Due to the sensitive and personal nature of many of the issues Where Grace Abounds works with, some of our blog authors wish to remain anonymous. We encourage people to move towards being transparent and known by those significant relationships in their lives. Testimonies and personal experiences are powerful tools to be shared. We hope you are encouraged by reading this article.

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