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God has the 411! Psalm 139:23-24

Updated on June 19, 2013

Today there are many books out there about prayer. Sometimes even in the church Christian fads such as the Prayer of Jabez teach us to pray prayers that really are motivated by selfish desires. Yet the Bible contains many prayers that God the Holy Spirit has given to us to teach and shape us. One such prayer is David's prayer in Psalm 139.

Psalm 139:23–24
Search me, O God, and know my heart: Try me, and know my thoughts:And see if there be any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting.

What did David Pray?

I. Search Me (v. 23a).

  • May your gaze penetrate me
  • Open up an investigation in my life
  • Probe me
  • Read me like a book

A. Inviting Him to see where no one else can see (what you are really like).

Even my spouse can’t see my heart: What I am really like? David invites God to see the real him.

Jeremiah 17:9–10 "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.

Hebrews 4:13 "Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do."

B. Inviting Him to know what no one else can know (motivation).

Why do I do the things I do? At times we can even do good things with bad motivations.

  • Worship
  • Parenting
  • Marriage

See it all good bad ugly

Job 31:6 "Let me be weighed in an even balance, That God may know mine integrity."

II. Test Me (v. 23b).

A. Thoughts.

The word "test" is used to describe the process of testing the genuineness of gold. Is it real gold of a knock off mixture? Notice this testing extends to our inner being. Our thoughts are under scrutiny by God! You can fool Him. Another type of testing is trial. Every trial brings a temptation to rebel against God.

Deuteronomy 8:2 "And thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no."

At times these tests feel overwhelmingly impossible to pass.1 Corinthians 10:13 "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." The fact is we fall short and sin against God. Instead of running, denying and hiding these, David asks God to test him. He does not want to worry or anxiously meditate and sin against God. What do you care about? Do you have disquieting thoughts? What do you reflect on? Open the door of you mind and invite God in.

B. Reactions

Submit me to test that will bring out a reaction. Pressure reveals truth. Hot water releases the flavor of the tea bag. The storm stirs up the mud in the puddle.

Open my eyes to the way I am being tested already i.e. my relationships, marriage, physical condition, employment etc.

III. Protect me (24a).

Protect me from the wicked way, the hurtful the way grievous way...

A.From anything which Ruins me

Areas wickedness/ sinfulness

  • Ephesians 4:22"That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;"
  • Hebrews 11:25 "Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;"
  • Hebrews 12:1"Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,"
  • Hebrews 3:13"But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin."

What is hurtful—any way in your life where you indulge

  • 1 John 2:16 "For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world."

B.From anything that Rivals God.

Anything that rivals God—idolatry (anything that takes the parking spot reserved for God).

  • Jeremiah 2:12–13 "Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid, be ye very desolate, saith the Lord.For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water."

What do you run to—that is your messiah

IV. Lead me (v. 24).

Don't show me, don't Google map it, don't search it, don't just tell me, rather transport me—be my guide. Don't make me go alone! Beloved there is great news; Jesus said in Matthew 28:19-20 "I am with you always". The Scripture reminds us that He "will never leave or forsake us."

A.From Here.

No matter where we are-- He can lead us to where we need to be. In golf we can slice or hook. If needed we can get a mulligan a "do over". In life, however, there is no do over. Yet in Christ there is no need to start all over. He comes to us and credits us with His righteous perfection and leads us from here to there,

B.To There.

The "forever ways"

  • Jeremiah 6:16 "Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein."
  • Psalm 119:59 "I thought on my ways, And turned my feet unto thy testimonies."
  • Proverbs 14:12 "There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, But the end thereof are the ways of death."

"Father, I want to know Thee, but my coward heart fears to give up its toys. I cannot part with them without inward bleeding, and I do not try to hide from Thee the terror of the parting. I come trembling, but I do come. Please root from me heart all those things which I have cherished so long and which have become a very part of my living self, so that Thou mayest enter and dwell there with-out a rival. Then shall my heart have no need of the sun to shine it it, for Thyself wilt be in the light of it, and there shall be no night there. In Jesus' Name, Amen." A. W. Tozer

Conclusion: Pray David's Prayer.

I. Search me (23a).

A. See what no one else can see.

B. Know what no one else can know.

II. Test Me (23b).

A. My Thoughts.

B. My Reactions.

III. Protect me (24a).

A. From Ruin.

B. From Rivals.

IV. Lead me (24b).

A. From Here.

B. To There.

About The Author

Harold Markham is the host of the ER Podcast. He studied to be a pastor and holds degrees in Bible, pulpit speech as well as a Masters in Biblical studies. Click here for more articles by Harold Markham.


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    • HD Markham profile image

      Harold Markham 5 years ago from Notheast, Wisconsin

      Thanks Eric-- Thanks Friend of Truth! Love to have you guys follow me out here on the Hub-- and follow hard after Christ in life. If you are brave you can listen to my podcast and archives at


      Harold Markham

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 5 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Thanks that is really a nice hub. Please Lord take all of me not just the small of me.

    • FriendofTruth profile image

      FriendofTruth 5 years ago from Michigan

      This is a beautiful and inspiring hub. The Word of God is like a two edged sword that when spoken pierces through and reveals to us what He wants us to see. When I read this psalm, it does put us on a pedestal, not to be lifted up, but to be viewed from the inner being and to try to allow God to deal with what needs to be dealt with within us. The prayer that you included from Tozier, is a blessing, because yes, though it hurts us to reveal all, we do come before the feet of God, we must.

      Blessings to you Brother, please continue the good writings - voted up and beautiful.