Search me, 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.
“Search and Seizure”
This is turning out to be a big year for the 4th Amendment! That constitutional protection—the one that prohibits illegal searches and seizures—isn’t typically as much of a hot-button issue as the 1st (freedom of speech & religion) or the 2nd (right to bear arms), but it is getting a lot of attention in 2021 as two cases appear before the U.S. Supreme Court. The details of the two cases are very different, but they both seek to define what distinguishes between “reasonable” and “unreasonable” police searches. The 4th Amendment is better known as the one that ensures our citizens’ “right to privacy.” Just like the politically charged questions of free speech or gun control, our constitutional right to privacy isn’t absolute. Sometimes there is a greater good that needs to be considered.
In Psalm 139, the psalmist acknowledges that he has been subjected to a rigorous and thorough search. The One doing the searching is God himself. God knows our every action and perceives our every thought (vs. 2); He is familiar with all our ways (vs. 3); in fact, God knows what we’re going to say before we even open our mouth (vs. 4). Whether that kind of search is reasonable or unreasonable, the writer confesses that “such knowledge is too wonderful for me, to lofty for me to attain.” (vs. 6)
Not only does God know everything, he also seems to be everywhere! There is nowhere the psalmist can run that God’s Spirit is absent; there is nowhere he can hide where God won’t find him (vs. 7-12). In fact, it is this same all-knowing and all-present God who created him inside and out (vs. 13). Just thinking about that makes the songwriter respond with praise, awe and wonder (vs. 14). God’s knowledge is both intimate and infinite…precious and immeasurable (vs. 17-18)! The psalmist has only one complaint: that God hasn’t completely destroyed those “wicked” and “bloodthirsty” enemies of God. It seems the singer hates God’s adversaries more than God does!
And so, the song ends with an invitation, “Search me, 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.” The singer realizes he still has a long way to go. There is more searching, testing and leading required as he continues to become the person God created him to be.
Sometimes God’s searches seem “reasonable,” while at other times they might seem “unreasonable,” but as it turns out, they are always “warranted!”
We might not always feel comfortable with a God who knows us this well—a God who sees everything, goes with us everywhere, knows our every thought. But this God doesn’t simply want to search us, He wants to seize us…to take complete possession of us…all of us. He invites us to give Him all our heart, all our soul, all our mind and all our strength. And He even invites us to love our neighbors as ourselves—and to let our mercy triumph over judgment. His search and seizure means giving up some of our rights—our desire for privacy, independence and control—for the sake of His greater good.
Jesus told his followers, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23) Jesus doesn’t offer a more private life or a more comfortable life. He offers his followers a better life and an eternal life. It’s a life that begins, and continues, by God’s search and seizure…being known, and possessed, and led by Him in the way everlasting.
Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! “Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?” “Who has ever given to God, that God should repay them?” For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen. (Romans 11:33-36)
Stay thirsty, my friends!
SONG: Heart Won’t Stop