Psalm 139 – “Where can I go?”

In verse 7 of Psalm 139 the psalmist asks God, “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?”

It is, of course. a rhetorical question. He knows there is no answer apart from, “Nowhere”. We simply cannot get away from God however hard we may try. We cannot hide from him. He sees everything and knows everything about us, and I suspect that is one reason why some people like to deny his existence. It can be quite unnerving to think of an all-powerful being who knows everything we do, say or even think.

A couple of weekends ago I was in the Sunday morning service at a village parish church in Leicestershire. The vicar told the story of the Old Testament prophet Samuel when he was commanded by God to anoint a new king. He was told the family that he should go to, and assumed that the very impressive eldest son would be the chosen one. But no! He worked his way down the family from eldest to youngest and still God said to him quietly, “This is not the one”.

Eventually in desperation he called to Jesse, the father, “Are you sure you’ve shown me all your sons?” “Well, there is another one,” says Jesse, but he’s little more than a child. He’s out watching the sheep.” “Bring him,” ordered the prophet, and as you’ve guessed he was the chosen one.

The moral of the story is given to us in the text (1 Samuel 16:7) and we can think of it alongside our verse from Psalm 139: “Man looks at the outward appearance but the Lord looks at the heart.”