Newsletter Article for September
“The Omniscience and Omnipresence of God” –
A Meditation on Psalm 139:1-12
Many of the faithful have often felt that at times God seems absent from them. In Psalm 139, we read that God is always present and knows everything about everyone. This truth is both daunting and comforting. It is daunting in that we are challenged to put away all sin from our lives that God may not find us doing evil. Yet it is comforting in that if we are making every effort to live a life pleasing to God, while believing in the Lord Jesus Christ for forgiveness of sins and for salvation, God is always at hand to strengthen and reassure us.
The Hebrew word for “search” in Psalm 139:1 and 139:23, chakar, means to dig deeply, examine carefully. At the beginning of this psalm, the psalmist proclaims that God has searched him and known him. This is not a superficial knowledge, but a very deep and intimate knowing. The Lord knows all the psalmist’s movements, actions and thoughts (Ps. 139:2). The psalmist’s statements about God’s knowledge of everything about him apply to all human beings – that is how deeply God has searched out all our thoughts and feelings. The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews testifies more briefly about God’s omniscience when he writes:
Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.
(Hebrews 4:13, KJV)
Since God knows all our words before we speak them, and all our thoughts before we think them, there is nowhere we can go to escape his presence, nowhere in all the universe (Ps. 139:8). His omniscience and omnipresence are both a challenge and a comfort to all the faithful.
In these times, when we see so little of one another except via teleconferencing, it is tempting to think that somehow we are hidden from others, and often people do not know one another extremely well, unless they have been friends for many years. But God knows all of us, and there is no virtual background that can hide our lives from God, and no mask through which he cannot see. Although human knowledge and science have advanced incredibly even over a few centuries, God’s knowledge remains incomparable to our limited knowledge as human beings. Therefore the psalmist rightly concludes:
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.
(Psalm 139:6, KJV)
What is the effect of God’s unsurpassable knowledge of each person in the world? For all those who have rejected the life-giving Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, the realization of God’s searching and comprehensive knowledge of their lives will be too much to bear, when the sun becomes dark, the moon red, and there is a great earthquake that shakes every mountain and island:
And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains;And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?
(Revelation 6:15-17, KJV)
There will be no place to hide on Judgment Day. It is better that we all realize that now is the acceptable time, now is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6b), when we must be reconciled to God, repent of all our sins, believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and live life following him as Lord.
But for us who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, what is the effect of God’s omniscience and omnipresence in our lives? We must lay aside closely clinging weights and unnecessary burdens and run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus Christ our Lord, the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:1-2). We must realize continually that sin and temptation must be resisted strenuously, while we trust in the Lord for his grace, and persevere in prayer and intercession for all the faithful, and for those who will receive Jesus Christ as Lord as a result of our witness.
Not only in this, but in all the trials of the Christian life, we must remain strong and faithful, persevering to the end. God’s omniscience and omnipresence must remind us, too, of the precious value of the Christian faith with which we have been entrusted, and we must make every effort to know our faith, so as to share it effectively and teach it to others.
Finally, the omniscience and omnipresence of God must encourage us, as we know that we continually serve God in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, who is our Advocate and Guide, leading us in all God’s truth, as he has revealed it in Jesus Christ our Lord.