Most folks struggle with feelings of insignificance from time to time. Larger-than-life athletes, greatly gifted film and television stars, brilliant students, accomplished singers, skillful writers, even capable ministers can leave us feeling intimidated, overlooked, and underqualified. For some, feeling insignificant is not simply a periodic battle; it is a daily grind! We know deep down inside we're valuable; but when we compare ourselves, we often come out on the short end. A well-kept secret is that many of those athletes, celebrities, authors, and preachers who seem so confident struggle with the very same feelings that plague their admirers.
Because of our rapid population explosion, we are becoming numbers and statistical units rather than meaningful individuals. Machines are slowly taking the place of workers. Computers can do much more, much faster, and with greater accuracy than even skilled specialists. Science doesn't help the problem. Our universe is viewed by scientists as being vast, so vast that this Earth is insignificant—a speck of matter surrounded by galaxies measured by light years rather than miles. The immensity of it all overwhelms an earthling at times and forces us to ask the age-old questions: Who am I? Why am I here? Where do I fit? What does it matter? This can result in an inner tailspin—one that increases rather than lessens, as we get older and the awareness of our surroundings expands. Perhaps you are among the many who are passing through what is called an "identity crisis."
If you are wrestling with this very real and puzzling perplexity, here is a song that is tailor-made for you. It is one of David's best! His lyrics describe the person who is standing alone and searching for answers regarding himself, his world, and his God. It provides the reader with a calm certainty that there is a definite link between himself and his Lord—that no one has been flung haphazardly or accidentally into time and space. This ancient song makes God seem real, personal, and involved because, in fact, He is. The crucial problems of international affairs and "global saturation" suddenly appear not half as crucial and the difficulties connected with one's identity crisis begin to fade as this wonderful song is understood.
The Passage and Its Pattern
Psalm 139 answers four questions. As we read through all twenty-four verses, we find that it falls neatly into four sections . . . six verses each. Each section deals with a different question. An outline might look something like this:
- How well does God know me? (139:1–6)
- How close is God to me? (139:7–12)
- How carefully has God made me? (139:13–18)
- How much does God protect/help me? (139:19–24)
All twenty-four verses link us, God's creation, with our Creator. We are super-important to our Maker. We are not unimportant specks in space or insignificant nobodies on Earth, but rather the objects of His care and close, personal attention. If you take your time and think about each section, you'll find that the four questions deal with four of our most human and basic problems:
- How well does God know me? (The problem of identity)
- How close is God to me? (The problem of loneliness)
- How carefully has God made me? (The problem of self-image)
- How much will God protect/help me? (The problem of fear/worry)
One final thought before we embark on an analysis of the first twelve verses: all the way through these verses we read of "the Lord," "His Spirit," "God". . . . as well as "me," "I," "my." To the psalmist, God is there; better than that, God is here. He is reachable, knowable, available, and real. All alienation is removed. All strained formalities and religious protocol are erased. Not only is He here, but He is involved and interested in each individual on this speck-of-a-planet called Earth.
From Living the Psalms by Charles R. Swindoll, copyright © 2012. Reprinted by permission of Worthy Inspired, an imprint of Hachette Book Group, Inc.
Used with permission. All rights reserved.