God Is Everywhere
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God Is Everywhere

Psalm 139:7–12  (ID: 3583)

Can we hide from God? The Bible contains many examples of people trying to do just that. In Psalm 139, however, David ponders this question and rightly understands that since God is everywhere, there is no place we can flee from His presence, nor should we wish to. Alistair Begg reminds us that although by nature each one of us hides from God, the Lord still lovingly seeks us, guides us with His hand, and comforts us with the remarkable truth that because of Christ, He is Immanuel, “God with us”—everywhere!

Series Containing This Sermon

The God Who Knows Me

A Study in Psalm 139 Psalm 139:1–24 Series ID: 11904

Sermon Transcript: Print

I invite you to turn to Psalm 139 and to follow along as I read the second section, as it were, beginning in the seventh verse.

And David writes,

Where shall I go from your Spirit?
 Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
 If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
 and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
 and your right hand shall hold me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
 and the light about me be night,”
even the darkness is not dark to you;
 the night is bright as the day,
 for darkness is as light with you.


From our hearts we say,

Speak, O Lord, as we come to you
To receive the food of your Holy Word.
Take your truth, [and] plant it deep in us;
Shape and fashion us in your likeness.[1]

In Christ’s name we ask it. Amen.

Well, I think we know this, but it’s good to remind ourselves of the fact that the Bible expresses great truths from the very beginning to the end in the realm, as it were, of personal experience. When we turn to the Bible, and sometimes if you give a Bible to somebody and you suggest that they might begin reading it, this will actually become apparent to them. It will very quickly be obvious that the Bible isn’t an academic textbook. It doesn’t provide us with information that encourages our speculation—with information that is, if you like, simply theoretical. But in actual fact, we discover pretty quickly that it is practical, it is at the same time personal, and in order that the response of the heart of the reader might be one of devotion, might be one of worship and one of obedience.

Our response to Scripture is one where we find ourselves declaring the goodness and kindness of God.

And that’s why, actually, we’ve been helped, in the singing of many of our songs, by those who’ve written about the Bible in a way that we can sing these truths to ourselves and to one another. For example, Brenton Brown’s “The Word of God is light in [our] darkness,” it is “hope for the hopeless,” it is “strong and true. The Word of God is strength for the weary,” it is a “shield for [all] who trust in you.”[2] Now, it’s in that framework that we read our Bibles on our own on a daily basis. We gather sometimes in other groups throughout the week or in different groups here throughout the Lord’s Day in order that we might be reminded of these things—that our response to Scripture is one where we find ourselves declaring the goodness and kindness of God.

Last time, in these first six verses, we considered how it was that David marveled not just that God is omniscient—that is, that God knows everything—but the real marvel is that, he says, “God knows me.” In fact, as we read it together, we realized that God knows him and knows you and me better than we know ourselves. If your Bible is open, you notice that little phrase in the second half of verse 5 about God laying his hand upon him. And I don’t know about you, but part of my reason for being in Psalm 139, I suppose, is that I just can’t hardly let go of David and of 2 Samuel. And I found that in the week, as I was reading this again, I was back in the narrative of 1 and 2 Samuel, wondering just where and when and at what point along the way David would have had occasion to write this particular poem. Of course, we don’t know.

But I was reminded of how in 2 Samuel 7 we read, “Then King David went in and sat before the Lord and said, ‘Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that you have brought me…’” (See this? It’s the “I” of God, and it is the “he” of David: “Who am I, in relationship to who you are?”) “‘And yet this was a small thing in your eyes, O Lord God. … What more can David say to you? For you know your servant, O Lord God!’”[3] “You know your servant.”

And of course, that is a powerful and an important truth. And I think perhaps you have had occasion, like me, to ponder that as we have gone through the week. I’ve said to myself, “Well, you better take seriously what you were studying. God knows you. He knows when you’re sitting down. He knows.” It’s fascinating, actually, as I think about it, you know, that we’ve accredited with Santa Claus—a nonexistent being!—what is only true of God, the creator of the universe. You know, “He knows when you are”—whatever he knows. “He knows when you are” something. He knows when you are sad. He knows when you are bad and good, or good and bad. I can’t do it. It doesn’t matter.

But the fact of the matter is, God knows us in that exact way. And he knows not only who we are, but he knows where we are. As I was making my way to Los Angeles on Wednesday, during a particularly exciting period of the flight when we moved more into the realm of rollercoaster than air, which was after a four-hour delay because none of the computers worked for the Federal Aviation Administration—so I was up there saying to myself, “Well, if I make my bed in the heavens, you are there. If we drop down into the sea, you’ll be there as well. So let’s just keep going. Dear God, help the pilot.” And so there we have it.

Now, in this second stanza, we come to it with the sixth verse ringing in our ears. David has ended his first statement aware of the fact that he is baffled by it. Essentially, he can’t get his head around it: “God knows me. This is knowledge too wonderful. It’s high. I can’t attain it.”[4] So it serves as an excellent conclusion to what he has said concerning God’s omniscience and also as a wonderful introduction to the fact that “God is with me.”

Now, he begins, you will notice, with a question in verse 7: “Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence?” “Is there any place I can go to be out of your sight, O God?” That’s what he’s saying. Now, immediately, this raises a question for us, because we have to decide: Is David asking this question because he’s considering the possibility of making a run for it? In other words, is he saying, “Is there somewhere I can go? After all, you search me. You know me. You know everything about me. Maybe I should find an escape route.”

The answer to that, I think, is unequivocally no, but let me ponder for a moment the fact that there is precedent, of course, in the Scriptures for those who have asked that question because they do want to make a run for it. In fact, from the very beginning of the Bible, if you think about it, in Genesis chapter 3, that is what Adam and Eve were seeking to do: “And they heard the sound of the Lord … walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of … God among the trees of the garden.”[5] It’s almost a funny picture, isn’t it, that they could hide from God in the trees of the garden? And God comes to them, and he says, “What do you think you’re doing?”[6] And he says, “[Well, you know,] I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.”[7] Well, they were singularly unsuccessful, weren’t they?

Or what about our friend Jonah? Jonah. He was making a pretty good run at it himself, wasn’t he? In fact, I’m going to just turn it up so that I can quote it accurately—Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, which I have to say to myself, because I can lose Jonah very easily after Obadiah. Not, of course, that you would ever do such a thing, but there you have it. And many of you are not even going to make an attempt at looking it up for the very same reason. That’s fine.

Well, here we go: “The word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, ‘Arise, go to Nineveh, [the] great city, and call out against it ….’ But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.”[8] God said, “This is where you should go.” He said, “No, I’d rather go over here,” and he ran away from the presence of the Lord. Of course, he was singularly unsuccessful. And in fact, he cries, the extent to which God is sovereign over the affairs of time are revealed in being swallowed up by a gigantic fish and having a prayer meeting from the belly of the fish.

What about the young man we just made mention of last week in Jesus’ parable? The young man who got together all that he had, and he “took [his] journey [to] a far country”[9]—in other words, to get as far away as he possibly could. But he was singularly unsuccessful, because when “he was still a long way off, his father saw him.”[10]

So the question is a realistic question, isn’t it? “Where [can] I go from your Spirit? … Where [can] I flee from your presence?” By nature, that’s what we do. By nature, humanity is a band on the run. You don’t find people just walking around in the Cleveland area saying to people in the street, “Excuse me? I was looking for God. Does anyone know where he is at the moment?” No. And those same people find, when they read their Bibles, that God is the searcher—that God is the one who searches and knows, God is the one who knows everything, and God is the one who is everywhere.

So, by nature, we hide from God. And if we’re honest, as Christians, we’re tempted to have a go at it. You may be here this morning, and actually, you’ve decided that one of the cleverest places you could hide from God is actually amongst people who are apparently gathering in the presence of God: “He’ll never look for me here.” It’s the way that David did it, remember? They’ll never look for him in the middle of the Philistines; he put himself in that context. “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love.”[11]

Before I go on—get back on track, as it were—let’s just remember what the Bible says. Jeremiah 23:[24]: “Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? [says God]. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the Lord.” It’s just possible that you’re down a little escape route in your own mind. The challenges and calls of God in relationship to family life, or in relationship to marital fidelity, or in relationship to unscrupulous honesty, or in relationship to the ethical demands of the gospel are just pressing in a little too much, and you decided—and only you know, and only God knows—that there is actually somewhere that you can probably go and hide. I say to you this morning: because God loves you, because he reaches out with an arm of love, he’s not going to let you do that.

Now, with that as an aside, let us come back to the central path. Let us get back to the fact that I take it that David is not looking for the possibility of escape, but he is actually comforting himself in the fact that escape is impossible. Don’t you see that’s what he’s doing? I think it is. After all, if we were to think that he was actually considering running away, it’d be strange that he ends as he does in verses 23 and 24, which we won’t get to for a few weeks: “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!” It’d be a strange sort of juxtaposition if, on the one hand, he was looking for a way to hide from God and at the same time in the awareness that God has searched him and he knows him and that he actually wants him to investigate him even further. No. No. The comfort that he knows is in the fact that such an escape plan is an impossibility: “If I climb up to the sky, you’re there. If I go underground, you’re there. If I fly on the morning wings, you would find me in a minute. When I got to where I was going, you would be there already.”

And so, with a series of “Ifs,” you will notice—“If,” “If,” “If,” “If”—we can look at these three strategies.

Up to Heaven, Down to Sheol

Verse 8, first of all: “What if I ascend to heaven or make my bed in Sheol?” To paraphrase it would be simply to say, “What if I go up to the heavens, and what if I try to go underground?” He’s very specific: “If I ascend to heaven—the uttermost reaches of up and on and out—if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.”

Now, let me encourage you to turn for a moment to the Sixth Psalm in order that I might say a word or two concerning Sheol. We’re not going to delay on it, but I think it’s impossible to tackle this without saying something concerning it. It’s mentioned in various ways in the Scriptures. It is essentially the abode of the dead. Psalm 6:5: “For in death there is no remembrance of you; in Sheol who will give you praise?”

The psalmist writes without the benefit of the knowledge that we enjoy since Christ has not only come, but Christ has also triumphed over sin and death and the grave.

Sheol, the abode of the dead, is described throughout the Old Testament in various ways: a sepulcher-like cavern, a stronghold, a wasteland, a place of nothingness. And when we read these things, we have to recognize that the language is evocative language; it is poetic language; it is not definitive language—so that a cry, for example, as here in Psalm 6:5, is a cry from the heart. The psalmist is saying what everybody recognizes, and that is that life is all too short, that death is implacable and decisive, and it has ramifications.

But at the same time, although it is a cry—a cry of sadness—it is not a denial of God’s sovereignty beyond the grave. Because if you think about it, this is what’s so striking about this statement here: “If I ascend to the heaven, you are there. If I were to make my abode in Sheol, you are there as well, because there is nowhere that I can go that is outside of your presence.”

Now, you know that when we read our Bibles, we say to one another it is helpful to read them backwards. Because we are able to do what the psalmist was unable to do. The psalmist, as an Israelite, is writing according to his own understanding of God’s revelation of himself, but the psalmist writes without the benefit of the knowledge that we enjoy since Christ has not only come, but Christ has also triumphed over sin and death and the grave. So we have to read these things in light of the ultimate reality.

So, for example, to help us in that regard: when Peter—good old Peter—when he preaches on the day of Pentecost, one of the things that is so remarkable about that sermon is the way in which Peter is able—under the direction of the Holy Spirit, clearly—to marshal all of this information, to encapsulate it, in a way that is so clear. “Men of Israel,” he says, “hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know…” He’s writing to those who were present. They saw the man at the Gate Beautiful being healed. They knew that the lepers had been restored. Some of them had been there on the occasion when the widow of Nain had seen her boy raised and so on. “This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, [for] it was not possible for him to be held by it.”[12] And you go down to verse 31: “[David] foresaw [these things] and spoke about the resurrection of … Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. This Jesus God raised up.”

Now, what Peter is doing there is he’s articulating the fact that Christ has descended into the depths. In the creed we say he has “descended into hell.”[13] He has descended into Hades. He has descended into Sheol. He has gone into that place. And yet for us, as New Testament believers, Sheol has become paradise. When the man on the cross says to Jesus, “Will you remember me when you come into your kingdom?”[14] Jesus does not say, “Yeah, today you will be with me in Sheol.” He says, “Today you will be with me in paradise.”[15] “In your presence there is fullness of joy”—Psalm 16:11—“at your right hand [there] are pleasures forevermore.”

And David here is making an amazing statement, isn’t he? I found that I could easily get sidetracked by this, and I sense, looking at some of your faces, you might want to do the same. But a good commentary will help you. It helps me. And Wilcock on the Psalms has a very helpful passage in this. Referencing what we’ve just said, he says, you know, the word about remembrance there in that fifth verse of Psalm 6

has to do not with memories but with memorials, that is, commemorations. David certainly believes that after this life he will still belong to God. … Verse 5 is not therefore the cry of a despairing sinner. …

We New Testament people are much more fully informed, now that “Christ Jesus … has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” We know that though this present life is full of good things, and is God’s perfect plan for us for the time being, the next life will be even better, indeed infinitely better. But for all his limited view, the psalmist has a lesson for us. What he least wanted to leave behind in this world (he has by now discovered that he has not lost it after all!) [namely,] the opportunity to serve and praise God. He had his priorities right.[16]

He says, “Does that mean that there will be no memorials? No,” he says to himself. “No. God’s got that covered as well, whether it’s there or there.”

Richard Baxter, in the seventeenth century, was an effective minister, and one of the hymns that he wrote has been helpful to many of us. It begins, “Lord, it belongs not to my care whether I [live] or [die].” What he means by that is not “I don’t care whether I live or die.” What he means by that is “Whether I live or whether I die is under your jurisdiction. Therefore, I can rest in that fact.” As he goes on in the hymn to speak about the unfolding drama of God’s purpose beyond time, he finally concludes—and I’m sure you’ve got this, because I will have quoted it to you before; I quote it to myself all the time—

My knowledge of that life is small,
The eye of faith is dim;
[It is] enough that Christ knows all,
And I shall be with him. [17]

“Not only do you know me, but you are with me.”

To the West and to the East

Secondly, he says, “If I [were to] take the wings of the morning…” It’s a wonderful picture, isn’t it? The poetry’s good. “If I travel at the speed of light,” he says, “and I go as far east as I can possibly go, or if I go to the other side; if I go to the west, into the depths of the sea…” For the Israelite, the Mediterranean Sea was the point: to the west. He says, “So whether I go to the farthest east or to the farthest west, you’ll be with me there.”

Israelites were not sailors. They were fishermen, some of them, but they weren’t sailors. The fact that the disciples got so upset on the boat is an indication of the fact that they were not, like, wonderful seafaring people. They weren’t. They didn’t live in that kind of context. In some ways, they would have thought that if you get, eventually, to the end of the ocean on the west, it might be like an infinity pool. Maybe you could just fall off the end of it into who knows what! David’s got no concept of it, really, beyond what he can see.

Darkness is able to hide us from other people, but it can’t hide us from God.

And so he’s saying to himself, “You know, if I was going all that way, if I went all that way, you’re there. You are absolutely everywhere. No distance, from the farthest east to the farthest west, can separate me from your presence. Because there,” he says, “your hand shall lead me. Your right hand shall hold me.” It’s a picture of God’s power. It’s a picture of God’s presence. It’s a picture of God’s overarching jurisdiction.

Guide me, O thou great Jehovah,
Pilgrim through this barren land.
I am weak, but thou art mighty;
[Guide] me with thy powerful hand.[18]

I actually had a chorus in mind during all of this week. I could actually hear my father attempting to sing it—and my father was no better at singing than I am, which is pathetic. But it didn’t stop him from singing in the car. We found it very funny as children, and we never really gave him much encouragement at all. I feel bad now, as I think about it. But I don’t know what he thought he was or who he thought he was when he would launch into one of these. And he used to sing this chorus that goes,

I trust in God, I know he cares for me,
On mountain[s] [steep] or on the [rolling] sea.
Though billows roll, he keeps my soul;
My heavenly Father watches over me.[19]

And I don’t know whether he’d been listening to Caruso or some great singer, but I can still hear his little voice going, “Though billows roll”—I’m like, “Oh, cut it out, Dad!”—“he keeps my soul.” But of course, I would never be able to tell you about that song if I didn’t have a dad who, despite his inability, sang truth to me and to my sisters in our childhood. So I know that my dad believed that his Lord knew everything about him and his Lord was everywhere he could ever go. And I learned that from him. The songs we sing with and to our children really matter.

Under the Cover of Darkness

Thirdly, “What, then, if I decide that darkness will be able to hide me?” See, darkness, of course, is able to hide us from other people but can’t hide us from God. It’s an interesting thought, isn’t it? “If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night’…” If the whole thing closes down, the eye of God pierces the gloom. I can’t get that Santa Claus lyric out of my mind right now, every time I think. “He knows when you are” what? “Sleeping”! “He knows when you’re awake. He knows [when] you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness’ sake.”[20] There you go. I’ll get letters for this one, for sure!

Even the darkness is[n’t] dark to you;
 the night is bright as the day,
 for darkness is as light with you.

He’s saying basically, “This is a fantastic thing, God. There’s no place I can go. I can’t hide in a closet. I can’t hide in the trees. I can’t hide in my car. I can’t cover myself with darkness, because you know me entirely.” Again, I guess the Christianized version of it is

Oh, be careful, little eyes, what you see,
Oh, be careful, little hands, what you touch,
Oh, be careful, little feet, where you go,
For there’s a Father up above,
And he’s looking down in love,
So be careful, little feet, where you go.

That’s what David is saying. This is a wonderful thing. It’s not a restrictive thing. It’s a liberating thing. It’s a dynamic thing. It’s a wonderful thing. He’s not looking for an out. He is comforting himself by the fact that there is no out. There is no escape. “If I were to go there, I went there; I went as far that way or as far that way; if I said I could hide under the cover of darkness, even there you watch over me. You provide for me.” Isn’t that what we said as children and when we finally—especially if you’re staying at somebody’s house that you hadn’t been in, and the person comes to put you to sleep, what do you always say? You say, “Would you leave a light on?” “Would you leave a light on?” “Anybody want to give you a hand?” There: “His hand is with me.” “Would you leave a light on?” “Of course I’ll leave a light on.”

God Is Everywhere, but He’s Not Everything

Now, let me say one word or two before I wrap this up. Because it is clear that what David is saying is that there is no corner of the universe that is hidden from God. That’s really what he’s saying. He’s just using these pictures. No corner of the universe is hidden from God. God is everywhere, but God is not everything. God is everywhere, but God is not everything.

Now, I say that because the environment in which we are living… If you take what we’re discovering this morning out onto the street, as it were, many of your work colleagues will interpret what you’re saying—unless you distinguish between truth and error—they will interpret what you’re saying along the lines of contemporary views of spirituality. And those contemporary views—a combination of New Age and Buddhism and Hinduism and many things that are all wrapped into many of the books that you will find in Barnes & Noble and elsewhere—all of these various spiritual notions, irrespective of their background, in some way or another say this: that nature includes and is enfolding the sacred, so that whatever there is of God, whatever there is of spirit, is enclosed and is contained in the sacred; the sacred is in there.

There is no corner of the universe that is hidden from God.

Well, how does it find expression? Well, for example, in contemporary preoccupations with Planet Earth. This is also represented on a daily basis, especially in the British press, as the great discoveries of science and the great concerns of science. It is ultimately not science; it is religion. It is an ideology that is grounded in an idea, and the idea is that somehow or another, God is everything: the sacred is in nature; the sacred is contained in nature; we are part of nature; therefore… I can remember when we thought it was so funny when that lady was out on a short limb. What was her name again? You know who I mean? Who? Shirley MacLaine. That’s it! Very good. See, people are still alert out here. This is fantastic! We’ve moved into the realm of interaction! But, yeah, Shirley MacLaine. We thought, “Oh, that’s so funny,” you know. “She’s a crazy lady.” But she was just ahead of her time. It’s mainstream now! Everybody’s out on a short limb. There we have it.

And so, as Christians, when we say these things—God knows everything; God is everywhere—unless we’re very clear to say, “God is everywhere, but God is not everything,” then our friends will interpret it as they choose.

David Wells has helped me with this more than anybody else. He says as Christians, we affirm that “God is … one in his being”—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—“God is … one in his being, but he is not one with nature.”[21] That’s why, again, we sing the hymn, like, for example,

Before the hills in order stood
Or earth received [its] frame,
From everlasting thou art God,
To endless years the same.[22]

Spiritualities, he says, abound, teaching that “the way we make contact with God is [by] find[ing] him [with]in ourselves.”[23] So much contemporary psychology is based on that: “Now, you just need to look in and find yourself. If you find yourself, and you find your true self, you’re actually making contact with the sacred, with the divine.” The fact is, when you and I find our true selves, we discover that we’re sinful, that we’re lost, we’re rebellious, we’re confused, and we’re in deep trouble. Therefore, we don’t really want to make that discovery.

And that’s why Wells says so helpfully, “There is an invisible boundary between [God] and [ourselves], both with … his being and with respect to what we know. We cannot cross [the] boundary to know him savingly. He is not found in our deepest self. He is…” This is such a great line! “He is outside the range of our intuitive radar.” “Outside the range of our intuitive radar.” We are, in fact, “alienated from him,” and so “we cannot access him on our own [time or] on our own [terms]. … It is he who must cross the boundary if we are to know him.”[24] And that is what he has done in Jesus. He crossed the boundary.

So when your friends say, “Well, I don’t know about God. I don’t know if he exists. I don’t know… He took the phone off the hook. I don’t know where I can find him. I looked in, but…” “No! You’re looking in the wrong place. In fact, deep down, you’re not even looking. But God is looking. God knows you. He made you. He made you for himself.” This is the story that we have to tell. This is how the Gospels begin, isn’t it? Matthew: “And his name will be called Immanuel, because he is God with us.”[25]

This has been a bad week for me for songs, as you can tell. But I had another one from the ’60s that wouldn’t leave me alone. At least I think I can remember the lyric this time, before I start. But it was written by Ralph Carmichael. I met him once when I went to preach in Phoenix. He’s gone to glory now. I was so excited to meet him, because we’d been singing at our youth group at least one of his songs, that began, if you remember,

In the stars his handiwork I see;
On the wind he speaks with majesty.
Though he ruleth over land and sea,
What’s that to me?
I will celebrate nativity,
For it has a place in history.
Though he came to set his people free,
What is that to me?

Till by faith I met him face-to-face;
Then I found the wonder of his grace.
Then I knew that he was more than
Just a God who didn’t care,
Who lived away up there.

“Which is what I thought: he’s just a God—whoever he is, wherever he is. I don’t know. I don’t care.”

Now he walks beside me day by day,
… Watching [o’er] me lest I stray,
Helping me [along the] narrow way,
[’Cause] he’s everything to me.[26]

Oh, that wee guy: he thought he was hiding up the tree! Jesus said, “Hey, let’s have tea.”[27] You hiding up a tree somewhere, metaphorically? The lady, she wasn’t hiding from God; she was just hiding from other ladies. That’s why she went to the well at that time in the middle of the day. Nobody goes in the middle of the day; it’s so hot. Maybe she thought she could hide. And Jesus says, “Any chance of a drink of water?”[28] He knows.

And that’s why we have been given the mandate to go and make disciples of all the nations.[29] That’s why we’re praying for North Africa. That’s why we’re excited to see all that God is doing in northern India. That’s why our friends are in Japan. That’s why our hearts are with the world. That’s why we believe in Bible translation. That’s why we want the gospel to be as widely distributed as we possibly can. Because we know what David knows, and we’re able to say, “God, you know me, and God, you’re with me. And I trust you.”

Father, I thank you that in the mix of all of this, we might hear your voice—that every distracting influence may be lost sight of and that that which is clearly from yourself may become that which we lay hold of.

We pray for our friends and family members, who have all kinds of different views. We pray that you will give to us a spirit of gentleness, of grace, that we might live our lives in a way that they come to ask us questions rather than that we go to tell them stuff. Lord, thank you that you have crossed the boundary. Otherwise, we’d never sing these songs. We would never trust in Jesus. We would never really have any idea what we’re doing in this pilgrimage of life. What a wonder your kindness and goodness is to us! And we want to affirm that we want to learn to trust you more, to take you at your word. So help us to that end, we pray, for Christ’s sake. Amen.

[1] Stuart Townend and Keith Getty, “Speak O, Lord” (2005).

[2] Andi Rozier and Brenton Brown, “Word of God” (2012).

[3] 2 Samuel 7:18–20 (ESV).

[4] Psalm 139:6 (paraphrased).

[5] Genesis 3:8 (ESV).

[6] Genesis 3:9 (paraphrased).

[7] Genesis 3:10 (ESV).

[8] Jonah 1:1–3 (ESV).

[9] Luke 15:13 (ESV).

[10] Luke 15:20 (ESV).

[11] Robert Robinson, “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing” (1758).

[12] Acts 2:22–24 (ESV).

[13] The Apostles’ Creed.

[14] Luke 23:42 (paraphrased).

[15] Luke 23:43 (ESV).

[16] Michael Wilcock, The Message Psalms 1–72: Songs for the People of God, The Bible Speaks Today (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2001), 33–34.

[17] Richard Baxter, “Lord, It Belongs Not to My Care” (1681).

[18] William Williams, trans. Peter Williams, “Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah” (1745, 1771).

[19] William Clark Martin, “My Father Watches Over Me” (1910).

[20] J. Fred Coots and Haven Gillespie, “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town” (1934).

[21] David F. Wells, What Is the Trinity? (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 2012), 11.

[22] Isaac Watts, “O God, Our Help in Ages Past” (1719).

[23] Wells, What Is the Trinity?, 11.

[24] Wells, 11.

[25] Matthew 1:23 (paraphrased).

[26] Ralph Carmichael, “He’s Everything to Me” (1964). Lyrics lightly altered.

[27] Luke 19:5 (paraphrased).

[28] John 4:7 (paraphrased).

[29] See Matthew 28:19.

Copyright © 2024, Alistair Begg. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations for sermons preached on or after November 6, 2011 are taken from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

For sermons preached before November 6, 2011, unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® (NIV®), copyright © 1973 1978 1984 by Biblica, Inc.TM Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Alistair Begg
Alistair Begg is Senior Pastor at Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio, and the Bible teacher on Truth For Life, which is heard on the radio and online around the world.