In 1961 Russian cosmonaut, Yuri Gagarin, became the first person to go into outer space and orbit the earth. It only took him 89 minutes! He allegedly said something to the effect that he didn’t see God out there. Upon hearing that, someone quipped, “If he had opened the door to his spacecraft he would have seen God!” The truth is, although we can’t see God, he is everywhere present at the same time. That’s kind of a difficult concept for us to grasp, but that’s what the Bible teaches. Psalm 139, verses 7-12, is one place where we see that taught.

God not only knows everything about us, it’s also true that we can never escape from his presence. In verse 7 the psalmist asks, “Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence?” The implied answer is: “There’s nowhere to hide from him!” That’s bad news if you’re trying to get away from God (like Jonah unsuccessfully tried to do). But it’s good news for those who know and love God. He will never leave you nor forsake you. He will always be with you.

Verse 8 uses some “polar opposites” to make a point. “If I ascend to heaven you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.” We know he is in heaven, but even in the place of the dead he is there, too! Psalm 23:4 puts it this way, “Yes, even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me!” What great comfort that brings!

The psalmist says, “If I take the wings of the morning (as far east as to where the sun comes up) and dwell in the remotest parts of the sea (as far west as you can go beyond the Mediterranean Sea), even there your hand will lead me, and your right hand shall hold me,” (vs. 9-10). That’s like saying that if you got as far away as east is from west, God sees you and will be with you. That same metaphor is seen in Psalm 103:12 where it describes God’s forgiveness of our sins, “As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.”

This part of Psalm 139 closes by talking about how even the darkness cannot hide us from God. “If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,’ even the darkness is not dark to you; and the night is bright as day, for darkness is as light with you” (vs. 11-12). Whenever I read that I think about the “Night Vision Goggles” that are used in the military. They are very useful in being able to see enemy soldiers who might be hiding in the darkness. Obviously, God doesn’t need them. He’s able to see everything, and he’s also present everywhere. That should be an encouragement to us. The Lord is with us. He knows what we’re going through. He hears our heart cries, he sees us in our need and He will help, comfort and encourage as we learn to trust him more.

I close with a prayer from St. Patrick: “Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise, Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me, Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me, Christ in every eye that sees me, Christ in every ear that hears me.” The One who loves us more than anyone could ever love us is with us, and will never leave us nor forsake us!

Jim Newman is pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Exeter. He may be reached by calling 559-592-2367 or by emailing [email protected]. Prays Together is a rotating faith-based commentary and advice column among the pastors, and guest laypeople, of area churches. 

This column is not a news article but the opinion of the writer and does not reflect the views of The Sun-Gazette newspaper.

Start typing and press Enter to search