You Know When I Rise- Psalm 139:2

As we continue in our study of Psalm 139, we next encounter an example in which we can the two features of Hebrew poetry, parallelism and imagery working together, and how the two complement one another and deepen our understanding of what is being communicated. Verse two reads as follows: You know when I sit and when I rise, you perceive my thoughts from afar”. We will recall, from verse one, how God knows David intimately, better than David knows himself. God knows all of David’s flaws and shortcomings and loves and accepts him anyway. David connects verse two with verse one in his usage of the Hebrew word yada here. Yada refers to the intimate knowledge of an intimate personal relationship, and David in this verse begins to see and relate to us one of the ways in which God “knows” him, one of the shortcomings and flaws with which David wrestles. He tells us that God knows “when I sit and when I rise”. This is our first encounter with imagery here, and imagery is the use of word pictures to help the reader understand what is being communicated. The sitting and rising here are not meant to be taken literally, and have nothing to do with chairs. This expression does not refer to the fact that God knows everything which David does, does not refer to God seeing all of David’s activities. God does see and know all of those things, but they are not what David has in mind here. The reference to sitting and rising is a word picture, with these terms referring not to the position of David’s body, but to the state of something else in David’s life, to something much more profound and impactful in David’s life. The understanding of exactly what picture David is painting through the use of this expression is given in the parallel statement made in the next sentence. This tells us that “you perceive my thoughts from afar”. We may recall that parallelism is the feature of one line clarifying or expanding upon the idea of the line which comes before it. We thus find here that the sitting and rising mentioned in this verse have to do not with David’s position physically, but to the position of David mentally. We find that the knowing here referred to is a knowing of David’s thoughts, and what God knows is when David is sitting or rising mentally. The picture which the usage of these words together paints is one of David’s state of mind at any particular point in time. The sitting here refers to those times when David is mentally at rest, and the rising reflects its opposite, when David is mentally agitated or stirred up. The use of this parallel expression, then, clarifies for us exactly what type of sitting and rising David refers to here, to a mental sitting or rising, to being overcome with worry, or at peace. So we find here that the first thing which God knows about David is that God knows what he is thinking. The use of the word perceive here also provide us with additional insight, for God not only knows that David is worried or at peace, but why David is that way. God knows exactly what causes David to be worried and agitated, and exactly why it does so, and David here, by acknowledging this fact, along with recalling that God is the God of the covenant Who always acts in David’s best interest, seeks to gain insight into exactly why some things cause him to become worried and/or mentally agitated. As we remember that psalms were also written as prayers, what we find here is David seeking insight into himself from the one who knows him better than he knows himself. David here prays that God would show him what causes him to be worried and agitated, so that it can be dealt with and David can live with less agitation and more rest, with less worry and more peace. So what we learn from David here, then, is that when we get worried or mentally agitated, there is no use in trying to hide this from God, for He knows it anyway. It is best to take the matter to God, and gain His insight into why we got agitated or worried and to help us learn how not to be agitated or worried by those things any longer, but to live at peace, free from worry and agitation.

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