February 2 – Omniscient
The sermon this week was on Exodus 32:1-8, but we’ll be looking at Psalm 139:1-6 to narrow in on our theme for this week: God’s omniscience.
Admittedly it’s hard to grasp what it means that God is omniscient or all knowing. Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology defines it this way: God fully knows himself and all things actual and possible in one simple and eternal act.(pg. 190) God literally, expressly, and exclusively knows everything. He knows every past occurrence, present activity, and future possibility. Plus he doesn’t just understand everything fully in scope, he understands everything fully in depth. We humans think we understand the universe, at least with the observation that everything is made of atoms. Not only can God number every atom (scope), he invented them and he knows everything about how they work (depth). His understanding, insight, and awareness are not bound by any limitation, blocked by any secrecy, or able to be added to. This sort of understanding is, as you well know, completely alien to us. Jen Wilkin puts that foreignness poignantly in None Like Him: “God does not learn.”(pg. 109)
At this point you might start thinking how David ends this section, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.”(Ps.139:6) The gulf between our knowledge and God’s knowledge is infinite; we simply can’t understand how much he understands. Plus, we all interact with the idea of God being all-knowing a little differently. The emotions it conjures, or doesn’t conjure, and the questions it raises or doesn’t raise differ person to person. Some of us will just take God’s omniscience as a cool academic fact, then set it up on a shelf and hope it comes in handy one day. Some of us will immediately question it, wondering how a good God could know about a hurricane or a helicopter crash ahead of time and still let it happen. Still more of us will feel pretty exposed. We’ll conclude that, if God knows everything about everything, then he knows everything about me. And that can be pretty scary.
But interestingly enough, that’s where David starts his psalm. He leads with God’s intimate knowledge of him, what he fills his day with, what goes on in his heart and mind, even what he’s about to say. God knows him fully, in scope and depth. I think this is an area we need to explore when we think about God’s omniscience. Yes he can count every atom in the universe, but he also knows about every crush you’ve ever had, every success and failure you’ve ever had, every time you’ve ever felt hurt or afraid. He knows you, all of you, better than anyone else, better than you know yourself.
And that knowledge might seem scary because he also knows every wrong thing you’ve done or right thing you’ve left undone. In realizing that we might feel exposed, naked before him (Heb. 4:13), ashamed over all the actions we can’t go back and fix. But check out how David thinks about this: he worships! The whole tone of this psalm is awe-filled worship; “Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” God’s omniscience should stand before us as a reminder of the depth of God’s love for us. If God knows everything I’ve ever done or left undone, then Romans 5:8, “while we were yet sinners Christ died for us” is all the more precious to me. We can treat God’s omniscience like a cool, even cold, academic fact, or as a threat to God’s very goodness. Or we can let it comfort our hearts, knowing that the only being who knows us fully also loves us fully in Christ.
Questions for Discussion
• Can someone read Psalm 139:1-6 for us?
• What stood out to you from this passage?
• What are some of the implications of God knowing everything about everything?
• How does it make you feel knowing that God knows literally everything about you?
• Why do you think David uses the tone he does in this psalm?
• How can God’s full knowledge of us affect the way we relate to him?
• How can God’s omniscience affect the way we handle our lives and the world around us?