I recently came across a reference to Psalm 139 that led me to sit down and spend some time in reflection of this Old Testament passage from the Bible. Immediately I was struck by its eloquent expression of God’s omniscience, unconditional love, acceptance and guidance in our lives. Lessons I found in this famous psalm include:
- God is everywhere and intimately knows the inner workings of my being and thoughts. Psalm 139: 1-6
- Everywhere I go (heights or depths) God is still there. Psalm 139: 7-10
- God unconditionally accepts and loves me. Psalm 139: 10-12
- I am God’s creation. Psalm 139: 13-16
- God’s countless acts of guidance in my life are more than the grains of sand. Psalm 139: 17-18
- I wish to stand against all that opposes support of God. Psalm 139: 19-22
- God knows me better than I know myself and can shape me into a better person. Psalm 139: 23-24
These lessons comfort me when I attempt to intensify my own yearnings for union with the highest divinity. Illustrating that truth is timeless across centuries and religion, I find these same spiritual lessons resonate within my Indian meditation teacher Sri Chinmoy’s writings.
Psalm 139 states, “O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD.”
Sri Chinmoy describes this concept of God’s omnipotence and intimate involvement in human life in his following words:
God is infinite, but He has entered into this finite body of ours which lasts for fifty, sixty or seventy years. God is infinite, but He houses Himself in each tiny child. Here in the finite, He wants to enjoy Himself and play the tune of the Infinite; it gives Him the greatest joy. It is in the finite that the Supreme in us is aspiring towards the Infinite. Finite and infinite: to our outer eyes they seem to be opposites, but in God’s Eyes they are one.
-Sri Chinmoy My Meditation-Service At The United Nations For 25 Years
His following words expand on the Biblical concept in Psalm 139 that “darkness is as light to you”
What is darkness? Darkness is nothing but very limited light. If you really enter into the inner world, you will see that in darkness also there is a very small, subtle light. Even inside blackness there is some light, infinitesimal light, because God is everywhere. If He is omnipresent, how can He not be inside even the most abysmal darkness? He is there, but He is manifested there to a very limited extent. So, evil, which is very insignificant light, will gradually, in the bosom of Infinity and Eternity, be illumined and grow into light.
-Sri Chinmoy The Hunger Of Darkness And The Feast Of Light, Part 1
Sri Chinmoy has written literally thousands of devotional poems, many of them expounding on the infinite nature of God’s Compassion. The following poem resonates with the part of Psalm 139 that states that God’s involvement in the writer’s life “Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand.”
God’s invisible Eye
Observes my visible heart
With infinite Compassion.
-Sri Chinmoy, Seventy-Seven Thousand Service-Trees, Part 12
Sri Chinmoy’s manner of describing the concept in Psalm 139 that we are God’s creation uses a gardening metaphor:
It is the Supreme who has created love. He has created your very existence. It is like a gardener who has created a garden with many beautiful flowers. If a flower says, “No, no, he does not love me!” is that not ridiculous? The very fact that the gardener has planted and cultivated the flowers – is this not his love? At every moment you have to feel that the Supreme does love you. Otherwise, He would not have brought you into His creation.
-Sri Chinmoy, God Is
The lesson of Psalm 139 that wherever one goes God is there – whether the heights or depths – is a very personal one for me that transcends quotes from a book or Bible. My experiences and inner teachings under the guidance of my meditation teacher Sri Chinmoy revealed this truth to me in a moment of prayer and meditation. I had been struggling for a couple of weeks with an episode of jealousy and it was heartbreaking to me to view this weakness inside myself. I prayed and prayed and meditated to try to see this part of my nature reformed. Instead of a breakthrough, I seemed to just add another layer of self-criticism onto the pre-existing jealousy.
Then a couple of weeks into this process I had a revelatory moment where I heard an inner voice tell me that if I was unable to conquer and leave this troubled place that I did not need to fear God would reject me. The voice silently told me that it would stay with me wherever I was and never stop loving me – even if I was stuck inside unhappiness over my weaknesses. To this day, now at least 4 years later, I cherish this as one of the most profound examples of God’s love. Thus when I read in Psalm 139 that “If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there” I immediately think of this personal translation of this lesson made manifest in my life.
My own spiritual inspiration is greatly bolstered by the picture of God seen through the lens of Psalm 139 and Sri Chinmoy’s Eastern wisdom some 2,000 years later. To find these concepts cross over religious boundaries so easily lends credence to their universal truth. If you have never read Psalm 139, I highly recommend it. It will pull God close into your heart – a place He already is – just waiting to be discovered.