You Have Ordained My Days- Psalm 139:15-16

In these verses, we find a good example of the ability of poetic language to speak to us on more than one level at the same time. These two verses, which form one unit of meaning, are translated as follows in the NIV: “My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be”. We will look at each of the “levels” here individually, in order to see what David is telling us here. The first level is the most obvious, one we will call the “physical”. In the first sentence in the verses, we find David telling us of the fact that God is his creator, that his physical body was made by God. He is not an accident, not the result of the random interaction of matter, motion, time and chance, but the deliberate work of an all-knowing and all-powerful creator. The fact that he was “woven together” tells us that he is a unique creation of God, for the Hebrew word “woven together” here is raqam, which refers primarily to a hand crafted work of needlework or embroidery. God created David’s body with specific characteristics and abilities, and these are given to enable David to fulfill his specific purpose. This also, then, is true of each individual human being. God has created our bodies with the shapes and sizes, and also with the abilities and limitations, necessary for each of us to be able to fulfill our unique, God-given purpose. He also tells us, in the last sentence, that our days are ordained by God, or that the time we spend on this planet is determined by God, that the day of our passing is in God’s hands, and we are to live each day as if it may be our last, for none of us is guaranteed tomorrow. This last sentence also leads us into the “spiritual” understanding of these verses, primarily in the use of the Hebrew word yatsar, translated as “ordained” in the NIV. As we return to the first sentence in the passage, the Hebrew word translated as “body” is otsem, which is also commonly translated as “bones”. This is where the more metaphorical usage of the language enters the picture, for “bones” was a common metaphor for the core of a person, the very essence of a human being was referred to as their bones. So God not only created the outer person of David, but also the inner person, so human beings are created as both physical and spiritual creatures. David’s entire being was created by God, the master craftsman, who “hand-crafted” David (and each of us) as a person created and fitted for a unique purpose, with a body and spirit intended to be united as one unit working together for one purpose. It is in this union of body, soul and spirit toward one God-given purpose that we find the true peace, joy and love which each human being searches for, it is in this that we find the redemption for which every human being seeks (whether they will admit it or not) and it is upon finding this redemption that we will move forward to seek to help others find it as well. So with all this talk of purpose here, how exactly does David propose that we discover this purpose? We find the answer in the final sentence in verse 16, specifically in his usage of the phrase referring to our days being “ordained” before they came to be. The word ordain here has a rather wide range of meaning, and can be used to describe something that is pre-determined or fore-ordained (its understanding in the physical aspect of this passage), but also to refer to something that has been fashioned or formed according to the pre-determined image or idea of an inspired master craftsman. It is presenting here the image of a potter with a lump of clay, who knows beforehand what he wants the finished product to look like, and carefully molds and shapes the clay to make it into what he determined beforehand it would be. So what David is telling us here on the spiritual level is that God orders what happens to us each day of our lives, and that what does happen does so in order to mold and shape us into the person which God intends for us to be, and to move us to do what God has created us to do, to move us toward fulfilling our unique purpose. The difficulties which come into our lives are not merely the slings and arrows of random chance, but are God’s work of molding and shaping us into the person He has created us to be and to do what He has created us to do, of God working to bring body, soul and spirit together, functioning as the harmonious unit they were designed to function as, fulfilling His unique purpose in each of our lives.

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