144. Using The Truths Of Psalm 139 In Counselling Situations. Series No.6 of 7

As we have seen in previous blogs, this Psalm has a wonderful outline of many of the attributes of YHWH, the Judeo–Christian God. We have seen these attributes in verses 1 to 6, the Omniscience of God. (He knows all things).  In verses 7 to 12 King David introduces us to the Omnipresence of God (He can be experienced everywhere). Following that in verses 13 to 18, comes the Omnipotence of God (He can do all things He purposes to do). Having portrayed God in this way, David then prays to Him as the One who can search him, who can know him, who can show him what He sees in him, and who can lead him in God’s way. The relevance of the truths in these verses can be seen in counselling situations. The following are some of those truths.

1).        God Alone Knows Everything There Is To Know About Every Human. (His Omniscience). His knowledge of people is one hundred percent detailed and accurate. He knows everything there is to know about every individual, their past, their present and their future.  It makes such a difference to people who have suffered abuse for example, for them to realise that God knows the whole situation. He knows the name of perpetrators. He knows the degree of abuse that took place. He knows the physical, emotional and spiritual damage that took place. He also knows how to bring the necessary healing to those who were abused. However Satan, who loathes and detests humans who are made in the image of God, will try to turn these truths against Him. He will put it into the minds of the abused to accuse God of allowing things to take place that brought such damage. He will suggest that God is not loving, and was powerless to help. But God knows and cares about our human situations. He knows about us. We will see more clearly in the next blog how we can receive healing of the things of the past which may be known to nobody but God Himself.

There are other people who have been seriously misunderstood and it seems that no one will believe them. How wonderful it is for such people to know that God knows every thought of every heart. He knows the words that were said and the actions that were committed in every situation. But He also understands the motivation behind every thought and action. God is never mocked. He never misunderstands. He never gets it wrong. In counselling situations we frequently see how much damage is done when people are falsely accused. It can be soul-destroying. It can lead to disintegration of marriages and families. It is also soul-destroying for those who have suffered abuse, who have eventually shared what happened, only to be disbelieved, sometimes even by their own parents.  We will have more to say about that in the next blog.

2).        God Alone Can Be There For Every Person. (His Omnipresence).   There are some circumstances in life when many of us feel isolated and alone. There are other times when for some reason or other we are made to feel isolated. Often when we have been misunderstood.  Many of us in ministry have experienced times when we felt that people’s attitudes to us had changed to some degree. In one case we discovered subsequently that one individual had voiced his criticisms widely. When it was eventually shown that the criticisms were of no substance, the support returned. But it still hurt and did damage for a time. However some people are subjected to the pain of being misunderstood for years or even decades.  Praise God He can bring healing to such hurts even when the misunderstanding continues.

It is true for believers that they are never alone. God’s eye is on them continuously.  They are never out of His vision or His thoughts. In fact it is impossible for any of us to escape from His presence, as verses 7-12 put it, 7 Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? 8  If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! 9  If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, 10  even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. 11  If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” 12  even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.

As I put it in one of the previous blogs David considered every dimension he could, to consider if he could escape from God. But he realised that God was in the vertical dimension, between the heavens and Sheol, the depths of the earth. He was in the horizontal dimension, in the east and the west and all places between. Even the darkness couldn’t hide David from the sight of God.  Probably based on Psalm 139, Francis Thompson’s poem, “ The Hound of Heaven” is a great description of the omnipresence of God. He describes God as a hound pursuing its prey, that is people, “ I fled Him, down the nights and down the days; / I fled Him, down the arches of the years; / I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways /  Of my own mind; and in the midst of tears /   I hid from Him, and under running laughter. /  Up vistaed hopes I sped;  /  And shot, precipitated, /  Adown Titanic glooms of chasmed fears,  / From those strong Feet that followed, followed after. /  But with unhurrying chase, /   And unperturbèd pace,  /  Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,  /  They beat—and a Voice beat /  More instant than the Feet— /  ‘All things betray thee, who betrayest Me’. 

Thompson describes the moment when the person running from God, realises he cannot escape as God declares to him, “Whom wilt thou find to love ignoble thee, / Save Me, save only Me? / All which I took from thee I did but take, / Not for thy harms,/  But just that thou might’st seek it in My arms./ All which thy child’s mistake / Fancies as lost, I have stored for thee at home: /Rise, clasp My hand, and come!’ I have ministered to dozens of people over the years who had this same sort of experience of the presence of God and who surrendered their lives to Him, the inescapable One.  The realisation dawned on such folk that God was wooing them and pursuing them in love, not to cause them harm. The fleeing was over. In various ways they had taken hold of God’s outstretched hand and had come home to Him.

A man who had a similar experience was the late CS Lewis. In his book “Surprised by Joy” he gave this description of the time he met the inescapable One. “You must picture me alone in that room in Magdalen, night after night, feeling, whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet. That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me. In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England.” Lewis discovered that God cannot be avoided. He is everywhere. He is especially there for those who seek Him. Why? Because they are open to experience His presence and His healing power in their lives.

3).        God Alone Knows The Full Circumstances Of Every Situation Of Every Person.  In verses 13 to 18, King David spoke of God’s omnipotence, the fact that He can do what He purposes to do.  He purposed to create a universe. He purposed to create humans to live in His  universe. He purposed to create a man called David whom He would eventually anoint to be King. David in these verses reflects on his own creation as a human.  Psa 139:13  For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. David sees that he was a creation by God. As we saw in an earlier blog, the circumstances of human conception are varied. Sometimes they are the result of a mutual act of love. Others are not like that at all. They may have been the result of an ugly power encounter in which one person was overpowered by another. But the important thing to note is that the child to be born is not “ugly”. God fashions that child in the womb as much as He does the child conceived in genuine love.

In fact the next verse affirms that, Psa 139:14  I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. David saw himself as part of the wonderful works of God. Many see that each human birth is a miracle from God, a touch of His handiwork.  Sometimes horrible circumstances may lead to conception! But God’s love and care are seen in the way He puts each part in place in the human body. How wonderful to be able to remind people whose conception was in horrible situations that God took over and fashioned them individually. They are His, by creation.

 God’s care is seen also in the growing process, Psa 139:15  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. His purpose for each individual was established before they were born. As the verse continues, in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. It raises the question as to whether we can miss out on God’s plan and purpose for our lives. There are some who come for counselling who feel that they have missed out on God’s purpose for their lives because of their sinful past. But God alone knows His purposes for us.

So it is good to be able to say to such people, that God has a plan for the remainder of their lives. They can enter into that plan if they give themselves completely to Him. No wonder David adds, 17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! 18 If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you. A lifetime of contemplating God, would never be enough to fully grasp the totality and the immensity of His thoughts and purposes.

 David is amazed at the plans and purposes of God. He knows they are far beyond his comprehension. But he is grateful for that which God has revealed to him. He is dedicated to doing God’s will for the rest of his life. That explains those “strange” verses from verse 19 to 22. What David is in essence saying is that he will never side with the enemies of God, against God. If they remain God’s enemies then they will be David’s enemies as well. He will be faithful to God.  Psa 139:21  Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD? And do I not loathe those who rise up against you? 22 I hate them with complete hatred; I count them my enemies.  We will see in the next blog that because Jesus has given us His Holy Spirit to indwell us, there is the possibility of loving our enemies. But as with the example of David, never siding with them against God!

In the final verses 23,24, David turns what he has been saying about God into prayer. God is the One who searches everyone. So David asks Him to search Him and to know him. He wants to be open to God so that God can heal him and lead him in the everlasting way, God’s way.

So these are the truths that can be helpful to know and to share in counselling situations. They are reality in a world of unreality. But how do we go to apply these truths in counselling situations, or when we are trying to encourage others to reach out to God for healing. That is the subject of our next blog. It is extremely important and encouraging to be able to try to apply these wonderful, releasing, healing truths to those who need them. Like you and me!

Blog No.144. Jim Holbeck. Posted on Monday 24th February 2014

About Jim Holbeck

Once an Industrial Chemist working for the Queensland Government but later an Anglican minister in Brisbane, Armidale and Sydney. Last position for eighteen years before retirement was as the Leader of the Healing Ministry at St Andrew's Cathedral Sydney.
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One Response to 144. Using The Truths Of Psalm 139 In Counselling Situations. Series No.6 of 7

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