Therefore, I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands...  1 Timothy 2:8

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June 2024

Meditations on Psalm 139, Part 3

Psalm 139:7-13-16

FEARFULLY AND WONDERFULLY MADE

The Importance of Understanding Origins
During the time that I did my seminary biblical studies, the school hosted a conference on how the church community should seek to impact the world. The speaker that evening began with the reality that evangelism often becomes bogged down in the question of origins. How did we come into being, and how have we come to be who we are presently? He was right about the question. It comes up all the time when people share the gospel. However, his proposal on what to do with it stunned me. First, he said that the issue is counterproductive. Trying to build a case for creation in our scientific culture only leads to arguments and makes us come off as naïve. After all, he said, evolution has explained so much that it is impossible to build a convincing counterargument for creation. Instead of arguing, he told us to say, “Let me tell you about the love of Jesus.” In other words, surrender to the elitists who hate the Christian world view without firing a shot, and then try to be nice guys to them so they will listen to our message. Brothers, we are not called to be wimps. We are called to the gospel, and the gospel begins with creation. God has made us and calls all men everywhere to repent.

The Heavy Questions
The question about origins—where we ultimately come from—is anything but trivial. To the contrary, it lies at the heart of our understanding who we are and what we need to do. A person who has been told all his life that the world is a purposeless, unconscious, unguided set of physical-chemical reactions in a closed system will not be able to believe in a God who loves him. If the cosmos is all that exists, then there is no moral condemnation from which to be saved, and there is no god is out there to do the saving. A God who sits on the sidelines in an evolutionary world is as awkward as the shy kid at the school dance.

David’s Understanding of his Created Design
Understanding the reality of God’s created world is necessary for bowing before him in worship. Once we understand the reality of God’s created world, he becomes a welcome part of it. The third stanza of Psalm 139 shows us the beauty that emerges from a proper understanding of our origins.

13 For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

--Psalm 139:13-16

The stanza begins with the Hebrew word Because or For. Therefore, in addition to moving forward toward his conclusion, David also expands on the truth in the previous stanza. The previous section speaks of God’s inescapable ever-presence. There, David recognizes that God is in heaven, he is in Sheol, he is unfazed by the chaos in the depths of the sea, and he navigates the darkness as though it were daylight. These facts stand alongside David’s understanding of his own coming into being in his mother’s womb—a unique human being, created in God’s image. Just as God occupies heaven, Sheol, and the uttermost parts of the sea, he is with him in his mother’s womb to form his inward parts and knit him together, a baby designed to grow to maturity and carry on God’s plan to fill the earth.

Verse 15 continue to praise God for his work. David’s frame was visible to God during the time that he was made in secret, “intricately woven in the depths of the earth.” The term, depths of the earth, is an appropriate picture, seeing that we all come from the dust of the ground.

Verse 16 concludes with another truth. Not only did God prepare David’s physical substance. He determined his moral purpose as well, “the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”

Why Creation Matters
This section rests on God’s creation. The God who called all things into being and made them beautiful in Genesis 1 continues to create human beings, generation after generation. David declares that God “formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb… intricately woven in the depths of the earth” (verses 13, 15). Even from his pre-scientific vantage point, he understands that his frame possesses both biological and moral definition. The God who made him took incredible care in forming him. Because God knows who David is, David knows who God is, and he knows where his worship should be directed. Further, he understands that he has a reason for being alive. His comment about “the days that were formed for me” (verse 16) show that he understands that he belongs to God and therefore owes him a life of allegiance. David understands that he has been created purposefully and has received a life of purpose. His response is to worship, and his worship brings a sense of being settled. “I will praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”

 

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