Prayers from Psalm 139:23-24
I love the Psalms. I think it’s because of its highs and lows. It flows from the highs of praising and acknowledging God for his greatness down to the throws of distress when we feel like God has deserted us. The Psalms express life. Much of it is written in prayer form. One such prayer is found in Psalm 139: 23-24. David cried out, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalms 139:23-24).
David asks God for three things in prayer. By the way, God wants us ask! Over 20 times in the New Testament we are asked to ASK! Prayer is God’s means of meeting our needs. Here are three daring prayers that David prays in Psalm 139:23-24…
“Lord, Search me!”
He begins with this: “Search, O God, and know my heart…” (Psalms 139:23a)
In the Bible the word “heart” is a synonym for the entire person, not just our emotions. So when David says “Search me and my heart,” he is not saying search me and know my feelings… he’s saying all of me! Search all of me and know all of me. “See if there is any offensive way in me!”
When I was in High School I had the privilege of taking a short mission trip to Colombia, SA. It was quite an adventure for a teenager. I remember in Medellin having my first experience being frisked. The military were checking people for drugs. And when they saw a group of teeny-boppers, I think we were immediate suspects. They made a number of us spread eagle and checked us out. They did a thorough search, checking every item and pocket we had. Frankly, I was scared. The good thing was, I didn’t have anything to hide.
What about God searching us? I think this is a lot scarier! We often hide things in our hearts. In fact, in our holiness tradition we tend to rationalize our sins. Let’s never do that! Jeremiah 17:9 warns us that “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Who can know it? God knows it and there is no telling what God’s search will find.
It is only when we expose our sin that we can be freed from sin. The Bible says that “If we say that we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and refusing to accept the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he can be depended on to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong.” 1 John 1:8-9 (TLB)
Yes, this is a daring, scary prayer, but we must pray it… “Lord, search my heart – all of it! All of me!”
“Lord, Test Me!”
The next part of this verse doesn’t get easier. He prays, “Test me and know my anxious thoughts” Psalms 139:23. This Hebrew word “test” means “to prove something, to make it pure (esp. metals).” This kind of testing is intended to produce something pure and clean! Job said, “…when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold” Job 23:10.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t like tests. I can’t ever remember looking forward to a test. In fact, if I had it my way, we would all skip tests. Yet tests are essential, aren’t they? James says this about tests: “The testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:3-4). Tests produce the best!
So David prays, “Test me.” He knew that God tested him, not to discourage him but to build his character. (That is the difference between testing and temptation.) It’s why He tests us too.
“Christians are like tea bags,
you don’t know what inside of them
until they get into hot water.
David also said, “I know, my God that you test people’s hearts. You are happy when people do what is right…” (1 Chronicles 29:17).
When we ask God to test us, we are asking him to take us through hard times and that through those challenges we would grow to be more like Him.
“Lord, Lead me!”
The third daring prayer is about the future. I call it the “guide me” prayer. David prayed it here. He said, “Lord, lead me in the way everlasting.”
The word “way” here means a path, a direction. The Bible says that there are ultimately two kinds of paths, the way of death and the way of life. Proverbs 14:12 warns us that “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.” David specifically asks God to lead him in the way that leads to life – a way everlasting.
We don’t know the future, only God does. Linda and I often talk about how God has led over the years- through good times and bad. We end up in places we never expected but the best place in the world is to be where God wants us to be!
Ask God for his direction! As we do, He promises this, “I will instruct you (says the Lord) and guide you along the best pathway for your life; I will advise you and watch your progress” (Psalms 32:8).
BEFORE YOU GO…
Would you pray these daring prayer with me? “Lord, search me.” “Lord, test me.” “Lord, lead me.” God wants us to fully give ourselves to him.
Finally, for all you pastors, please save the date for the Pacific Conference Pastors’ Prayer Retreat at Cannon Beach Conference Grounds, April 16-18, 2018.
2 Comments Add yours
FROM DR. BILL VERMILLION: (Thanks Dr. Bill)
Going along with your comments about the heart, test him, lead him there is a fourth imperative (actually the third in the series which culminates in lead) which actually starts the parallelism in verse 24 and completes the 3 fold test of search, test & see. So after the search and test, the psalmist asks God to actually look at him, the very eye of God focused on you to see if you are out to hurt others, any offensive way.
So from Focus on the Bible Commentary 3 great questions
(1) How conscious are you of the all-seeing eye of God upon you when not engaged in private devotions or public worship?
(2) If this happened more would it encourage you or make you ashamed and afraid?
(3) How can we cultivate ‘The practice of the presence of God’?
Focus on the Bible Commentary – Focus on the Bible Commentary – Psalms 90-150: The Lord Reigns.
From Adam Clark
If there be any wicked way—דרך עצב derech otseb: a way of idolatry or of error. Any thing false in religious principle; any thing contrary to piety to thyself, and love and benevolence to man. And he needed to offer such prayer as this, while filled with indignation against the ways of the workers of iniquities; for he who hates, utterly hates, the practices of any man, is not far from hating the man himself. It is very difficult
“To hate the sin with all the heart,
And yet the sinner love.”
Adam Clarke’s Commentary.
“It is not you that shapes God; it is God that shapes you. If you are the work of God, await the hand of the artist who does all things in due season. Offer him your heart, soft and tractable, and keep the form in which the artist has fashioned you. Let your clay be moist, lest you grow hard and lose the imprint of his fingers.”
– Irenaeus (130-202 AD)
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I’ve never been compared to a tea bag. Love it!
Bill I love the quote by iranaeus.
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