I confess, I watch a lot of reruns of the TV show Law & Order. So I feel like I know a lot about searches and searching in general. Those detectives are always looking for clues to solve the crime and for evidence needed to convict those that carried out the crime. But the detectives run into a lot of resistance when they try to carry out their searches. The people don’t want their homes searched or their cars or to be searched themselves. They are very uncooperative and the detectives always seem to be waiting on search warrants from the court, so that they can lawfully, legally search whoever or whatever they need to in order to bring the hidden facts to light.
The detectives need to uncover the truth. The criminals need for the truth to remain covered, hidden safely out of sight where no one can see and know. The criminals are hiding the truth in order to avoid being found guilty and punished for their crime.
Those Law & Order detectives would love King David who wrote this Psalm to God, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24)
Imagine that – David asks God to search his heart, he invites God in with the express purpose of knowing him and of testing him. The Living Bible translation of verse 24 reads, “Point out anything You find in me that makes You sad,”. David wanted to please God that much – enough to ask God to reveal what in him grieved his Creator.
In Psalm 26:2 David says, “Test me, O Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind;” God does not need a search warrant or nor does He need permission because He is Omniscient and knows all things anyway. “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” (Hebrews 4:13) But even so, David welcomes, actually invites God to search him and to know him.
Adam and Eve did just the opposite in the garden. Long before David made his heartfelt plea to God, they hid from God, wanting to cover up what they had done in disobedience to their Creator. Jonah did more than hide, he actually ran from God when he didn’t like the plans God had for him. Jonah eventually figured out that no one can out run God. There was a time when David, too, attempted to hide from God. David wanted to hide what he had done from others as well as from God. David even went so far as to commit murder in order to cover up what he had done. He wanted to keep his secret hidden.
David’s past actions make his request of God in Psalm 139 all the more surprising, all the more beautiful. He was willing to be searched, to be exposed, to be known. That’s a risk not many of us are willing to take. It is painful to be exposed to the light, to have things removed that need to be taken away.
But David was brave enough to cry out to God, “Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your unfailing love; according to Your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. . . . Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:1-2 & 10) That kind of heart surgery is painful – the washing away of whatever God finds offensive, (as David asked) no matter how desperately I want to hang onto it. And then the creating of the new heart, which only God can do. Truly a miracle in any day and age.
That’s what David was consenting to, was asking God to do. To search him with the idea of uncovering and removing anything in him that as he said, God found offensive or anything that made God sad. David knew that only God could do this thing he asked. He said to God, “Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. . . . Hide Your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity.” (Psalm 51:7 & 9)
David was willing to be searched by God, willing to submit, willing to surrender to whatever God would need to do in order to clean his heart and restore him to right standing with God.
David’s end game was this desire of his, “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14)
That’s why he wanted God to search his heart. May that be my prayer too.
sincerely, Grace Day