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. (Psalm 139:23-24) It is quite easy to see the faults in others. They seem evident and obvious. In fact they are hard to miss and quite observable. It has become nearly a sport, finding the faults and inconsistencies in others. It is an entirely different matter of recognizing our own faults and bad habits and attitudes. The psalmist understood this and his prayer has been one that we each need for ourselves. Jesus spoke of this in the Sermon on the Mount, specifically in Matthew 7:3-5 . “Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? “Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
Again, the person I am responsible for above everyone else is myself. I must allow the Lord to turn the search light upon my life and heart. I need to be examined
- Search Me! The appropriate place to start is with ourselves. If I work on me, things will get better not only in my life, but I will be in a better place to help others.
- Know my heart God does know us and He knows everything about us. It is great to have someone who knows the worst abut us and still love us. Regardless of how often I have failed. God loves me and He loves you! There is power in knowing that it is okay to allow God to know everything, He already does, and He loves us supremely.
- Test me Tests can be challenging and even frightening at times. The enemy tests us to attempt to destroy, but God tests us to develop us.
- Know my anxious thoughts. As you and I examine and reflect upon the events of our lives, there are many anxiety producing events. At times we are anxious regarding our family, our work, our health, our future, our past, well in a word: everything! It reminds me of a statement I heard years ago: “All of my life I have worried about a lot of things most of which never happened!” Anxiety arises when we are sure we can fix everything, and we are responsible for all outcomes. There are many things that I cannot change, but as the psalmist reminds us, the one thing we can change is ourselves and even then we must rely upon the grace and transforming power of God to bring the needed change into our lives.
- Offensive way We can easily recognize offensive ways in others. We are often stung by the words and actions of people. We can spend so much time nursing our wounds and recounting all the hurtful and damaging actions of others, that we fail to reconginze that we have offended and hurt others. Hurt and pain is not a one way street headed my direction. I need to acknowledge that I have caused pain and hurt in the lives of others. Often it was not intended, often it may have been through actions that were necessary. Yet, the psalmist invites us to a new perspective: stop blaming others and allow God to examine and change our hearts and lives.
- Lead me in the everlasting way Since we do not know where we are going and how it all is going to work out, it seems appropriate to seek leadership and guidance from the Lord of everything including the future. A part of surrender is facing reality, a part of reality is an accurate appraisal of ourselves. Therefore the only way forward is to follow the Lord.
These verses in the 139th Psalm make an excellent Lenten season prayer. Search me O God and know my heart!