Psalm 139 – Fearfully and Wonderfully Made
Call to Worship:
New City Catechism
Q. 52 What hope does everlasting life hold for us?
A. It reminds us that this present fallen world is not all there is; soon we will live with and enjoy God forever in the new city, in the new heaven and the new earth, where we will be fully and forever freed from all sin and will inhabit renewed, resurrection bodies in a renewed, restored creation. [Revelation 21]
Good and gracious heavenly Father, we praise you for your works and especially for how you have knit and formed each of us. We are glad that you saw us and ordered our days before we were even born. Help us then to trust in your good providence; for nothing in this world or in our lives takes you by surprise. You have fashioned us according to your good pleasure and you are fulfilling your purpose for each of us. Even in the midst of difficult times, Lord, we know that you are at work. Help us to not live in fear, but in faith and love. As we look to you Word, give us clarity and wisdom as we try to interpret all that is happening around us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. And we pray all this in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit; one God now and forever. Amen.
Hello Waukesha City Church. I pray that this audio finds each of you well. And whatever your circumstance today my prayer is that through this audio you might be encouraged by the grace and goodness of our God. Thank you for listening in. Let’s get to it.
I am continuing our study today in Psalm 139. This is our third week in this Psalm and so we pick up where we left off at verse 13 through to verse 16. If you have your Bible, you can turn there and read along with me.
v. 13-16 For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.
As in all of Scripture, David writes here inspired or carried along by the Spirit of God. And he began this Psalm by speaking of God’s perfect knowledge of him. What comfort there is for the child of God to know that God is completely aware of every detail of our lives. He knows us completely and He knows us in love.
After this then David speaks of God’s presence in his life. He cannot and we cannot escape God’s presence. And the point is not just that God is present everywhere, but that God’s people can be assured of God’s loving presence with them wherever they go or wherever they find themselves. And nothing can hide us from his attentive gaze. We don’t have to wonder if God has ever lost sight of us, as if something can hinder his vision or as if he is too preoccupied with other things. His loving presence is always with us and His sight is always upon us.
Now David goes on to speak of God’s providence in his life and ours. Providence. That is a word we don’t much hear anymore and it is likewise a doctrine that has become forgotten in many Christian circles, so let me give a short explanation before we move on.
The providence of God is God’s creative, sustaining and governing power at work in the universe. It is that power by which God brings about his sovereign decree. The doctrine of God’s providence does not deny the laws of nature or the creaturely will of man or the existence secondary causes. But it is the recognition that God is the primary cause. He is the one who sustains and upholds the laws of nature. Even the plans and intentions of men as Calvin says are “so governed by his providence that they are borne by it straight to their appointed end.” This does not mean that we are not responsible for the decisions we make. Or that God does not hold man accountable for his wickedness. But rather that the power of causality (that is the power to cause something to happen) that we have does not exist outside of his providence. Our power of causality is secondary. The liberty of will that we have is subservient to the government of God’s providence. In other words, no man by his own will or power can thwart God’s intentions and plans which are brought about by his perfect and mysterious providence.
So Providence is God’s creative, sustaining and governing power at work in our world and in our lives.
So then, in verse 13 David praises God for His providence in forming his very being. “For you formed my inward parts: you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.”
David is owing His existence to God. He is saying that the genesis of his life, the very beginning of his formation was due to God. Body and soul, he was knit together by God.
From conception on God was at work forming him in his mother’s womb.
This isn’t denying the occurrence of a God-ordained natural biological process. Rather he is speaking of what is behind that. Behind the biology is a sovereign God who imparts life, consciousness and personality. A God who forms the make-up of body and soul. The God who upholds the ordinary means of it all. He is not a passive clockmaker who has wound up the clock and sits idly. He is active in His Creation, upholding it by the Word of His power and is intimately involved in the genesis of every new human life.
When the Apostle Paul was preaching to the people of Athens he called them to seek after the God who made them because he says it is “In him we live and move and have our being.” That is our very existence is contingent upon the providence of God.
Likewise, in Hebrews 1:3 we are told that Christ is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.
Col. 1:16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth…—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
Our culture today and for many years has been plagued by a deistic view of God and the world. This worldview separates the natural and the super-natural so that one is the work of God and the other is simply the work of laws like gravity that function independently of God’s hand. But the Bible never speaks in that way. It never divides reality into these two spheres as if one is the realm of God and the other the realm of science.
Rather God’s Word teaches us that everything that occurs in nature is the result of a benevolent God who created and sustains life. The laws of nature are in fact laws because He has made them so. And they continue by his sustaining power. Ultimately gravity holds us to this planet because He ordains and maintains it. The laws of gravity are a subset of the governing providence of God.
And so too while Human life may be described as being conceived through a natural process, there is a God who is at work in and through that process and without His involvement conception would utterly cease. In fact, without his involvement everything would cease.
v. 13 “you formed my inward parts: you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.
David wasn’t ignorant about the birds and the bees. He knew where babies came from. He wasn’t denying the God ordained means of conception. He was recognizing the mysterious divine work in and through it.
And what David praises God for here is true of every person who has ever lived. And so we can say of every single man, woman and child that they are fearfully and wonderfully made. This is in part why human life has dignity and value. For one we are made in God’s image. And also, we were fashioned and formed by God. He is the one who imparted life to us. He is the one who formed our inward parts, our very souls. And that means that you and I aren’t just the product of an impersonal biological process. Yes, God uses the means of procreation. But in and through it, it is God who is at work.
We are fearfully and wonderfully made by our Creator. Every life has dignity and worth because it comes from Him. And we see here that every life in the womb has that value as well. Notice how David speaks of his personhood beginning in his mother’s womb.
This is why abortion is such a wicked thing. Because it is in fact murder of unborn persons. Individual human beings fashioned and formed by God. Their frame is not hidden from him as they develop in the womb. And they are precious in his sight.
Because of this truth, brothers and sisters, we must not be silent when it comes to abortion. The fact that such a practice is legal in our country is a terrible injustice and an abomination to the Lord. Love of neighbor and love for God demands that we fight against this wickedness. Not only ought we to speak the truth about abortion, but we ought to speak the truth of Psalm 139, that it is God who imparts life in the womb and that each and every unborn child is fearfully and wonderfully made. And, I should add that we should take care in the political candidates we support and vote for. Do they value human life in the womb? Or do they promote abortion as the right of a woman to do what she wants with her body. What a terrible distortion that is. Quite honestly it is shameful and deceitful. Because it comes from the father of all lies.
Friends, your life and my life, the life of every single child has been formed and fashioned, made and woven by God. Your body and my body. The body of every single child. All of our make-up. Our DNA, our hair color, our size and shape. The Lord may have used biological means to bring these things about, but He is behind it all.
Now parents, are you teaching your children that they are wonderfully and fearfully made? This would be a good verse to memorize with them. Do they know that their life is precious because God has made them so? How will they learn to deal with the physical characteristics they don’t like about themselves? This has direct application to that, doesn’t it?
Well the psalmist goes on to say in verse 16 that God not only formed his life but knew him before he was born and planned his days. v. 16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there were none of them.
NLT – v. 16 You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.
Here again is the providence of God in our lives. Before we were born, before he formed us, he recorded every day of our lives in his book. He knew all of our days before they would come to pass because he is the one who ordered our days. Every aspect of my life He has foreseen and He has ordained.
Ere into being I was brought / Thy eye did see and in Thy thought / My life in all its perfect plan / Was ordered ere my days began
“His solace [the solace of the Christian], I say, is to know that his Heavenly Father so holds all things in his power, so rules by his authority and will, so governs by his wisdom, that nothing can befall except he determines it. Moreover, it comforts him to know that he has been received into God’s safekeeping and entrusted to the care of his angels, and that neither water, nor fire, nor iron can harm him, except in so far as it pleases God as governor to give them occasion.” -Calvin
In Psalm 138 David says, “The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.”
What is the work of God’s hands? It is the work of God’s providence to fulfill God’s sovereign purposes for his children.
And this is the truth we find in Romans 8:28 “For those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” He has called you according to his purpose. He has a purpose for your life. He is causing everything in your life to work both toward your good and that purpose. And verse 29 goes on to tell us what that good purpose is: that we would be conformed to the image of his Son.
That is the ultimate good of every believer. And as individuals, God is working that plan out in our lives in unique ways. It will not all look the same for us, but we are all heading to that same glorious goal.
And so along with the Psalmist we can have the confidence that God has ordered our days. He has an ultimate and glorious purpose for all of us and in every unique detail of our individual lives He is at work carrying out his plan for us both for his glory and for our everlasting good.
He ordered all of our days before we were even born.
v. 16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there were none of them. How precious to me are you thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them. If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you!”
LBC Chapter 5, Paragraph 1: God the good Creator of all things, in His infinite power and wisdom, upholds, directs, disposes and governs all creatures and things, from the greatest to the least, by His most wise and holy providence, to the end for which they were created.
And that includes you and me.
I Thessalonians 5:23 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.