Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether. 5You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.

Psalm 139:4-5 

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Psalm 139:4-5

Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me. (ESV)

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God Is Very Near (Psalm 139:4-5)

| May 4, 2014

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Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. 5You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.—Psalm 139:4-5

Verse 4. For there is not a word in my tongue, but lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether. The unformed word, which lies within the tongue like a seed in the soil, is certainly and completely known to the Great Searcher of hearts. A negative expression is used to make the positive statement all the stronger: not a word is unknown is a forcible way of saying that every word is well known. Divine knowledge is perfect, since not a single word is unknown, nay, not even an unspoken word, and each one is “altogether” or wholly known. What hope of concealment can remain when the speech with which too many conceal their thoughts is itself transparent before the Lord? O Jehovah, how great art thou! If thine eye hath such power, what must be the united force of thine whole nature!

Verse 5. Thou hast beset me behind and before. As though we were caught in an ambush, or besieged by an army which has wholly beleaguered the city walls, we are surrounded by the Lord. God has set us where we be, and beset us wherever we be. Behind us there is God recording our sins, or in grace blotting out the remembrance of them; and before us there is God foreknowing all our deeds, and providing for all our wants. We cannot turn back and so escape him, for he is behind; we cannot go forward and outmarch him, for he is before. He not only beholds us, but he besets us; and lest there should seem any chance of escape, or lest we should imagine that the surrounding presence is yet a distant one, it is added,—And laid thine hand upon me. The prisoner marches along surrounded by a guard, and gripped by an officer. God is very near; we are wholly in his power; from that power there is no escape. It is not said that God will thus beset us and arrest us, but it is done—”Thou hast beset me.” Shall we not alter the figure, and say that our heavenly Father has folded his arms around us, and caressed us with his hand It is even so with those who are by faith the children of the Most High.

Taken from: Spurgeon, Charles H. “Psalm 139.” Treasury of David—. Web. 21 Apr. 2014.

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Discussion Questions

  1. What attributes of God are most clearly seen in Psalm 139:4-5?
  2. Does God’s omniscience change how you think and what you say?
  3. Can you think of other Bible verses that can help you in the fight to control your speech?
  4. How would your behavior change if you truly believed God “hems” you in and fully protects you with His hand on you in everything?

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Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892) was an influential pastor in London in the 1800s. Many of his works are available on-line, including Morning and Evening as well as many of his sermons.
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