The Omniscient, Omnipotent, Omnipresent God

The Omniscient God: Psalm 139:1-6

In Psalm 139, David cries, “O Lord Thou hast searched me, and Thou knowest me.” Among the many lessons of this Psalm, the one that stands out is the amazing fact that the Lord searches us and knows our minds, our emotions, and our wills completely. He knows us through and through. Nothing escapes His all-seeing eye; not one microscopic detail eludes His awesome, all-knowing mind. Our lives, both private and public, are an open book to Him.

The Lord knows the hearts of men and the nature of all people. This is seen in John 2:23-25, where it is reported that “Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men, and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man.” In Luke 5:22 we find another example of Jesus knowing the thoughts of the Pharisees and scribes who were thinking about him. “When Jesus perceived their thoughts, He answered and said to them, ‘Why are you reasoning in your hearts?’” Jesus taught that He knew all that is said, done, and thought by men. He was most concerned about the hearts of men, rather than the mere appearance of being holy. In Luke 18, Jesus told a parable about a certain Pharisee, a keeper of the law, who prays and fasts in public and thanks God that he is “not like other men.” However, the tax collector in the same parable does not appear outwardly repentant by “raising his eyes to heaven,” yet genuinely acknowledges his sin, beating his breast, saying, “God, be merciful to me a sinner!”

According to Psalm 139, God knows when we sit down and when we rise up. He understands our thoughts before they are formed into words. He surrounds our path during the day and watches us while we sleep. He is the God who neither slumbers nor sleeps! To sum up the Psalmist’s thoughts, he says “God hemmed me in, behind and before, and laid your hand upon me.”

What might this mean to us? First, God has enveloped and surrounded us in His nest. Secondly, God will continue to encompass and shield us for the future. Thirdly, presently God’s hand is upon us. As Peter calls for in 1 Peter 5:7, “Cast all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” In God’s kingdom, not even a sparrow falls unnoticed! Even the hairs of our head are numbered. (See Matthew 10:29-31) For this reason, Paul assures the Philippian church in Philippians 4:6-7, “Be anxious for nothing.” Even Hagar, while she flees from her mistress Sarai out of her distress from bearing Abraham a son, is amazed by the Lord’s knowledge and remembrance of her in His provision for her. She calls upon the Lord as “the God who sees.” (See Genesis 16:13) In the hymn Standing Somewhere in the Shadows, the chorus praises, “Standing somewhere you'll find Jesus; he's the only one who cares and understands. Standing somewhere in the shadows, you will find him and you'll know him by the nail prints in his hand.”  


The Omnipresent God: Psalm 139:7-12

The Psalmist not only knows God as the all-knowing and all-mighty God, but as the ever-present God. The Psalmist is convinced that nothing could hide or separate us from God. In Psalm 139:7, he asks, “Where can I go from Thy Spirit? Where can I flee from Thy Presence?” David describes God as being present in five extreme spheres. First, he speaks of the height of God’s presence, saying, “If I ascend up into the heavens, Thou art there.” Then he tells of the depth of His presence, saying, “If I make my bed in the depths, Thou art there.” Next, David describes the eastern extreme of God’s presence, claiming, “If I rise o’er the wings of the morning, Thou art there.” Then, David illustrates the westernmost part of God’s presence, declaring, “If I settle on the far side of the sea, Thy hand shall lead me, Thy right hand shall hold me.” Lastly, he shows that the utter darkness of God’s presence does not exist, saying, “If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall fall on me,’ Even the night shall be light about me; Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You, but the night shines as the day; the darkness and the light are both alike to You.” (Psalm 139:8-12)

In several other places in Scripture, we can see how different people in the biblical story are aware of God’s presence with them after attempting to hide themselves or flee from God. In Genesis 3:8-10, we see Adam hiding from God after he sins by eating from the tree. In Jonah 1:1-4, Jonah flees from God, trying to avoid going where God has called him to go. In Revelation 6:12-16, we see the great leaders of the world hiding themselves from God in a cave, attempting to avoid God’s wrath. However, the presence of the Lord is inescapable as we see from David’s words in Psalm 139. David is indeed speaking from experience. When he tells Saul of his shepherding experiences, he claims he had slain a lion and bear, alone, while protecting his sheep, because the Lord delivered them into His hand. (1 Samuel 17:34-37) When he unexpectedly encounters Goliath in battle with the Philistines, David defeats him not because of his own strength, but because God was with him! David says, “I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand.” (1 Samuel 17:45) When David flees from Saul, being hunted as a partridge, God is also with him and provides for him to stay alive. (1 Samuel 26:17-25) Again, when David is in King Saul’s palace, the Lord protects him from death through his relationship with Jonathan and his wife’s warning in 1 Samuel 19. In Psalm 23, we also see David praising the Lord for saving him and being present with him in the “valley of the shadow of death.”

How does this truth of God’s omnipresence apply to us personally then? If we look at Isaiah 43:1-7, the prophet speaks of God’s constant attention to us: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” Paul insists that nothing can stand between a believer and the love of Christ in Romans 8:38-39: “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” God also promises us, as the people of God, in Deuteronomy 31:6-8, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” In Psalm 34, believers are again promised, “The angel of the Lord encamps round about those that fear Him.” 


The Omnipotent God: Psalm 139:13-18

In Psalm 139:13-18, David speaks with delicate skill about the mystery of conception, birth and life. He sees men as God’s crowning achievement. First, He creates Adam and Eve, and then declares that our conception and development in the womb and finally our birth is a veritable miracle. David indeed gives God all the credit for our creation when he writes: “Thou didst knit me together in my mother’s womb. I am intricately and wonderfully made. I was visible to Thee in my mother’s womb. Thou didst see my unformed body. Thou didst determined the length of my life, even before I was born.” God’s tender care does not cease once a person is launched into the world. His thoughts towards us are “numbered as the grains of sand upon the seashore.” (Psalm 139:17-18)

God is all knowing, He is everywhere, and He is all-powerful. There are five and a half billion people in the world, yet God is intimately acquainted with each one. He knows all about each one of us, where each one is, and indeed knows where you are. He even knows the eternal story of every grain of sand. He is also present everywhere with His people. He is in the hospital rooms with the sick, in the “valley of the shadow of death,” in the depth of bereavement, the camps of cholera breakouts, in the many wars waged on earth, even in the atrocities of such wars – He is there, no matter what the circumstance, and not one person is able to hide from Him. God is absolutely inescapable and all-powerful in His sovereignty. As an anonymous philosopher’s statement summarizes, “God’s center is everywhere, His circumference is nowhere.”