In David's song about the amazing attributes of God, he marvels at God's ability to remain in complete control of His universe.
You have enclosed me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is too high, I cannot attain to it. (139:5–6)
The Lord remains in complete control of the smallest details of His creation; He is all-knowing and all-powerful. Knowing us as He does, He puts the necessary controls upon us. The fact that He "encloses" us could be misunderstood. This is the translation of a Hebrew term used for the besieging of a city in battle—closing off all escape routes. One Hebrew scholar says it means "to be hemmed in." The idea is that God has us in inescapable situations and there steadies us, directs us, restrains us, keeps us from running and escaping from that situation. This explains why His hand is upon us.
Perhaps the apostle Paul was in such a predicament when he said he and his companions were "burdened excessively, beyond our strength" (2 Corinthians 1:8). The King James Version renders those words: "We were pressed out of measure, above strength." The Greek term means "to be weighed down." It's the idea of intense pressure: "We were under tremendous pressure." In pressurized situations today, God shuts off all escape routes, but He stays near and steadies us with His hand so that you and I might learn valuable lessons instead of running from the difficulty. Annie Johnson Flint describes scenes familiar to all of us—times of inescapable pressure:
Pressed out of measure and pressed to all length;
Pressed so intensely it seems beyond strength.
Pressed in the body and pressed in the soul;
Pressed in the mind till the dark surges roll;
Pressure by foes, and pressure by friends;
Pressure on pressure, till life nearly ends.
Pressed into loving the staff and the rod;
Pressed into knowing no helper but God.
Pressed into liberty where nothing clings;
Pressed into faith for impossible things.
Pressed into living a life in the Lord;
Pressed into living a Christ-life outpoured.1
After contemplating all these truths, David exclaims, in effect, "It blows my mind!" (Psalm 139:6). So wonderful were these proofs of God's knowledge and control, he could not begin to contain his emotions. His problem of identity has begun to fade as the songwriter realizes God views His creatures as important and significant. He knows us. He scrutinizes our lives. He studies us and steadies us twenty-four hours a day. Although it blows our minds to comprehend it, it is true. How well does God know me? Completely!
- Annie Johnson Flint, "Pressed," from Poems That Preach, compiled by John R. Rice (Murfreesboro, TN: Sword of the Lord Publishers, 1952).
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.