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
Years ago, Bob and I saw a movie in which a young man died in a tragic accident and went to heaven. Once he arrived, as he stood with Christ, he saw images and flashes of his life played out before him on a big screen. As he watched with sadness, he saw what effect his words and actions had had on others during his lifetime, and he felt such heartache for the pain and despair he had unknowingly caused.
I have thought of this scene so many times in the years since and have wondered about my own actions. Doesn’t just the thought of such a scene make us want to look into our own hearts, and try to see if in the deepest recesses of our souls, we might discover some unknown darkness or evil hidden within?
Do you think it would be possible to do so? Could we be objective enough about ourselves to see our own faults, perceptive enough to understand why they are there, and sincere enough to correct them?
David, who wrote so eloquently of his emotions in many of the psalms in the book of Psalm, knew only God could truly see. Scripture tells us clearly that sometimes we can’t trust our own hearts and they can be deceitful and lead us astray. Many of our experiences from the past or our own selfish desires can come into play in our heart feelings and decisions. David understood this all too well.
In this prayer, he is humbly asking God to search his heart and his thoughts, to make him aware of any wrongdoing or misplaced motives that might be found and to test Him to see if he was found trustworthy. He didn’t want there to be anything to keep him from being who God would have him be, or from receiving the blessings that God wished to bestow upon his life. He fully understood God’s omnipresence (ability to be everywhere and there is nowhere He is not) and His omniscience (He knows everything and there is nothing to be known that He doesn’t already know).
He knew God had already seen into his heart and knew what was there. Yet, he recognized that he needed God’s insight and guidance to transform his heart into what God would have it be. He knew all too well that his thoughts, just like our own, could be too anxious, fearful, untrusting, and unbelieving at times. Yet, even his willingness to say this prayer and to ask God to reveal what He found, is evidence of God’s indwelling spirit in David, and of his desire to place his life in His hands. He had a loving heart for his God and longed to please Him.
We, too, need to pray for God to search our hearts and thoughts. We need Him to help us see through all the disguises and facades we may try to present to others. And even more, we need His love and grace to reveal what is found and to help us to correct it.
Would He find us to be insecure, arrogant, weak, greedy, revengeful, mean-spirited, angry, jealous, self-absorbed, prideful, fearful, or full of hopelessness or despair? What truly lies beneath the surface that we have to keep pushing down to keep it from flowing outward?
We need Him to help us keep our hearts pure and filled with strong faith and goodness, so we can be those individuals He created us to be. What a gift to be able to say, “God, my life is completely yours and I trust in you to lead me in the way everlasting.”
Our most gracious and loving God, you know our hearts and what lies within. Search us and help us to abandon our own will to yours and trust in you completely. Help us to transform our hearts and be the individuals you fully intended for us to be when you created us. Thank you for your love, grace, and peace. Amen