Search me, know my heart, test me.
Who would ever say these things?
Do you say them?
Maybe you should.
Ps 139:23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
That’s from Psalms. So if you’re a Christian, you should be asking this question. Asking no less than God. The same is true for Jews and Muslims.
And we’re not just talking words here. Not just about what comes out of our mouths when we’re in full control of ourselves. That would be too easy.
No. We’re talking a real search of the things that only God knows. Things our friends might not know. Maybe even things we’ve successfully convinced ourselves that we don’t do. But for today, let’s focus on words that we express both verbally and / or in our heads.
Search me means search all of me. Search my heart means search what’s inside of me. The things we do when we think no one’s watching. Or at least when no one we know is watching, because maybe we think strangers don’t count. But they do.
Searching will also show the things we didn’t do. Things we should have. Like when we could have helped, but chose not to. The times when we put God low on our list of priorities.
Not to mention the things we think but rarely, if ever, utter when someone else is around to hear.
Know my heart
Even if we think we’ve succeeded in keeping things hidden from other people, look what else Psalms has to say about the tongue.
Ps 5:8 Lead me, O LORD, in your righteousness
because of my enemies—
make straight your way before me.
Ps 5:9 Not a word from their mouth can be trusted;
their heart is filled with destruction.
Their throat is an open grave;
with their tongue they speak deceit.
This is interesting. David is talking about the words that come from the mouths of his enemies. How nothing they say can be trusted. And how their hearts are filled with destruction.
And yet, are we not all like that? Maybe not all the time. But at least some of the time? Here’s the difference.
Ps 5:10 Declare them guilty, O God!
Let their intrigues be their downfall.
Banish them for their many sins,
for they have rebelled against you.
Ps 5:11 But let all who take refuge in you be glad;
let them ever sing for joy.
Spread your protection over them,
that those who love your name may rejoice in you.
Ps 5:12 For surely, O LORD, you bless the righteous;
you surround them with your favor as with a shield.
The difference is between those who rebel against God and those who take refuge in God. Yes, we all rebel against God at some times in our lives. But when we do things that are against God, do we continue to rebel against Him? Or do we have the nerve to say, “God, search me, and know my heart”?
Ps 10:1 Why, O LORD, do you stand far off?
Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?
Ps 10:2 In his arrogance the wicked man hunts down the weak,
who are caught in the schemes he devises.
Ps 10:3 He boasts of the cravings of his heart;
he blesses the greedy and reviles the LORD.
Ps 10:4 In his pride the wicked does not seek him;
in all his thoughts there is no room for God.
Ps 10:5 His ways are always prosperous;
he is haughty and your laws are far from him;
he sneers at all his enemies.
Ps 10:6 He says to himself, “Nothing will shake me;
I’ll always be happy and never have trouble.”
Ps 10:7 His mouth is full of curses and lies and threats;
trouble and evil are under his tongue.
We see more from David on wicked people. What they want in their hearts, their arrogance, pride and what comes out of their mouths. At the beginning, David is asking God where He is while all this goes on. These thoughts continue for another eight verses. Then this Psalm concludes with David’s innermost feelings about God. Feelings that are very telling about where God is in his heart, even as he asks God, where are you?
Ps 10:15 Break the arm of the wicked and evil man;
call him to account for his wickedness
that would not be found out.
Ps 10:16 The LORD is King for ever and ever;
the nations will perish from his land.
Ps 10:17 You hear, O LORD, the desire of the afflicted;
you encourage them, and you listen to their cry,
Ps 10:18 defending the fatherless and the oppressed,
in order that man, who is of the earth, may terrify no more.
As with Psalm 5, the difference between those who take refuge in God and those who rebel against God is forefront here. It’s important to note that David never claims to be perfect. In fact, he becomes very far from it. However, David never loses sight of God as his source of refuge. The same should be true for us.
There are many more instances of the evil that comes from our tongue / mouth. However, I believe this last one will suffice for this article. I encourage you to check out other instances as well. If you’d like, this link will take you to biblegateway.com with a search for the word “tongue” in the NIV translation of the Bible.
Ps 12:1 Help, LORD, for the godly are no more;
the faithful have vanished from among men.
Ps 12:2 Everyone lies to his neighbor;
their flattering lips speak with deception.
Ps 12:3 May the LORD cut off all flattering lips
and every boastful tongue
Ps 12:4 that says, “We will triumph with our tongues;
we own our lips—who is our master?”
Ps 12:5 “Because of the oppression of the weak
and the groaning of the needy,
I will now arise,” says the LORD.
“I will protect them from those who malign them.”
Ps 12:6 And the words of the LORD are flawless,
like silver refined in a furnace of clay,
purified seven times.
Ps 12:7 O LORD, you will keep us safe
and protect us from such people forever.
Ps 12:8 The wicked freely strut about
when what is vile is honored among men.
Unlike before, David isn’t asking God where He is. However, he is asking for God’s help. Furthermore, David ties people’s evil words together with their evil deeds – including oppression of the weak.
As we saw, David does things like asking God where He is, asking for God’s help. But then he turns around and says O LORD, you will keep us safe and protect us from such people forever. That may seem odd. It’s like the two are mutually exclusive. If God is doing such a good job of protecting His people from the evil ones – forever – then why does David say the other things?
Well, consider these words from Jesus.
Mt 5:1 Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them, saying:
Mt 5:3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Mt 5:4 Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Mt 5:5 Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
Mt 5:6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
Mt 5:7 Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Mt 5:8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
Mt 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called sons of God.
Mt 5:10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Mt 5:11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Forever – eternity – is a hard concept for us humans. For God, it’s normal. Forever going backwards in time for us, is not the same amount of time as forever going forward in time for us. Scientists disagree on how far back “our” time goes. And no human knows how much time is left for this world going forward.
But for God – forever is eternity. There’s eternity going “back in time”. And there’s eternity going “forward” in time. And there’s eternity as in from the the beginning to the end. Of course, there’s the issue. We think of eternity as a measure of the time that we live with. But God doesn’t. It’s different.
Rev 1:8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”
We see, it’s not a case of now, since the beginning, and until the end. There was no “beginning” for God, the way we think of. And in that sense, there will be no “end” for God either. As such, there’s no “now” either as far as God is concerned. “Now” is when we can interact with God – where “now” is an instant of time, which is already over by the time we think of it.
So when David says forever, as in eternally, it’s not here on this earth. It’s after we depart from this earth. And enter the Kingdom of God, where forever really has no end.
Back to Psalm 139
From everything we just looked at, the next verse in Psalm 139 should be no surprise.
Ps 139:24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
It’s because of David’s faith that God will take care of him forever that he asks God to see if there’s anything offensive in him. David doesn’t want to miss out on God’s protection “forever”.
This thought should be even stronger for us today. David had a sense of what Jesus would later say in The Beatitudes. Today, we have the words of both David and Jesus. And others. Given the promises, we should be asking God to see if there’s anything offensive in us. Anything that would put us with those who speak evil words and oppress others. Anything that would prevent us from receiving the promises of God.
Going back to the concept of people who seek refuge in God and those who rebel against God – we see that here as well. No one is without sin. That’s made quite clear in the New Testament, by the words of both Jesus and Paul.
Mk 10:18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone.”
Ro 3:21 But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
So the difference is in how we approach God. As a source of help, or as an object of rebellion.
In the second to last verse of Psalm 139, David again asks God to “search me”. But he goes further. Much further.
Ps 139:23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
While today we pray, “lead me not into temptation but deliver me from evil” – David is asking God to search me, test me, and know my anxious thoughts. Test me? What’s going on? Isn’t there a contradiction here?
The short answer is “no”. The longer answer is that if we see a contradiction, it’s because we don’t understand the words of either David or Jesus. Or maybe both of them. For an explanation of that particular portion of The Lord’s Prayer, please see Lead us not into temptation …. If you would like to read about the entire passage in Matthew 6 where Jesus gives us The Lord’s Prayer, please see This then is how you should pray….
You have searched me
So, there’s a verse that says you have searched me. From what we just read about test me being the second to last verse, you may think this one would be the last. But it isn’t. It’s the first verse.
Ps 139:1 O LORD, you have searched me
and you know me.
Yes, everything we looked at came after this verse. David starts off knowing full well that God has already searched him. Everything David says after this verse is knowing that God has already done everything he’s asking for. Before he even asks.
We know this in our heads. Even many who claim to be atheist know this in their heads. In fact, it’s likely one of the reasons they claim to be atheists. In fact, the definition of atheist is interesting:
Note that it says denies or disbelieves. There is a difference. Disbelieves means the person truly does not believe in the existence of God. However, denies is most likely a person who does believe in the existence of God, but denies that very existence – certainly to others. But the very use of the word deny begs for that person actually believing in their heart that God does exist.
So – here’s the question. If we believe in the existence of God, whether we admit it or not, why would we not also ask God, “search me, know my heart, and test me.
Before a word is on my tongue
Let’s skip down to the 4th verse of this Psalm to see one more thing on the tongue.
Ps 139:4 Before a word is on my tongue
you know it completely, O LORD.
Again, even before asking God for anything, David is saying that he knows God is aware of what he is going to say. Or what he might say. Even the things he thinks about but never actually says.
For those of us who believe in God, whether we claim to be Christians or atheists, we know these things.
So why not admit it. Yes, even the Christians – why not fully admit it. And then live like it. Ask God, “search me, know my heart, test me“. And then be protected by Him. Forever.