Psalms  ◦   Chapter 139

1O Lord, you have examined me
and you know everything about me.

2You know every action I take;
from across the cosmos, you know every thought I think.

3You know whether I am working or resting;
you know my heart motives — the way I operate.

4Before the words come out of my mouth
you know exactly what I will say, O Lord.

5You seek me to lead me — you surround me,
guiding me and protecting me.

6The full knowledge of you is too immense for me;
you are infinite, and I cannot comprehend it.

7Where can I go and be away from your Spirit?
You sustain all reality — where can I flee and be beyond your presence?

8If I go to heaven, your sustaining presence is there;
if I sleep in the grave, your sustaining presence is there as well.

9If I rise with the beams of sunlight in the east,
if I settle beyond the ocean waves in the west —

10even there your Hand would guide me,
the One at your right hand would keep me safe.

11I could claim that darkness will hide me
and the light around me turn to night,

12but my claim doesn’t change reality and no darkness is impenetrable to you;
for night becomes day in your presence
and darkness becomes light.

13For you have redeemed my heart and mind1;
you covered me with grace
from the moment I was conceived in my mother’s womb.

14I praise you because you are awesome;
wonderful and marvelous are all your works,
and I know this very well.

15You know my entire being —
how I was built from your secret code,
constructed from the elements of the earth.

16You saw me before I was born;
my entire life was recorded in your book of foreknowledge
before one day came to be.

17To me, your thoughts and purposes are the most precious, O God —
the infinite source of all reality;

18if I could count them,
they would outnumber all the grains of sand.
No matter what I think or do,
it bears witness to your foreknowledge.

19When will you destroy selfishness, O God?
Remove from me all those who love death — the violation of your law of life;

20for the selfish scheme
to promote lies — false remedies — in your kingdom.

21I abhor how they hate you, O Lord;
I am sick of seeing them work against you!

22I despise their lies and selfishness — I absolutely hate it!
I recognize they are enemies to love and truth.

23Examine me, O God, and know the deepest recesses of my heart;
test me and identify every troublesome thought.

24Determine if there is any unhealthy way in me,
and lead me back to everlasting life.

1 The Hebrew word translated in many Bible versions as "formed" or "made" is קנה [qanah], and according to the New American Standard Hebrew-Aramaic and Greek Dictionaries is translated most commonly as "bought," "buy," "purchased," and also as "redeemed." The Hebrew word translated as "inmost being" is כליה [kilyah /kil·yaw/] and means "seat of emotions or affections," thus the author’s translation of "heart and mind." The Hebrew word translated as "knit me together" according to the Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon is שׂכך, סכך, סוּך [cakak, sakak /saw·kak/] v. A primitive root; TWOT 1475, 1492, 2259, 2260; GK 6056 and 6058 and 6114 and 6115 and 6116 and 8503; 23 occurrences; AV translates it as "cover" 15 times, "covering" twice, "defence" once, "defendest" once, "hedge in" once, "join together" once, "set" once, and "shut up" once. Contrary to popular translations, the context of this verse is not about physical embryological development, or God using power to physically create a new human life, but is about the plan of redemption. The Psalmist in Psalms 51:5 describes that he was "born in sin, conceived in iniquity" and here acknowledges that despite his sinful origins, God was already there acting to redeem him and cleanse him from sinfulness.