Dear radio friends,
David’s meditations on God to this point have regarded God Himself: the omniscience of God, or His all-knowingness; the omnipresence of God, His being everywhere present; and the omnipotence of God, His being all-powerful. David has praised God for these things and contemplated them also in relation to himself, the creature, and the child of God. David has come to and expressed his confidence in the fact that God knows him from all eternity; that he cannot escape the presence of God; and that God knows him thoroughly.
Having thought on these things, David now expresses in the psalm that he meditates on God often and desires to know God truly. So, having thought of God’s knowledge of David, David now expresses his love for God. What is it on which David meditates? And how often does he meditate on these things? And how deeply? We read in Psalm 139:17, 18 : “How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.”
What is it on which David meditates? He thinks of God: “How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God,” he says. When David speaks of God’s thoughts he does not mean David’s thoughts about God but God’s thoughts. That is clear enough from the text. It is not David’s thoughts which are so precious unto David. It is not David’s thoughts which are so numerous, not even David’s thoughts about God. But it is Jehovah God’s thoughts of which David speaks — the thoughts that God has in His mind, the ideas in the mind of God — are precious to David and more in number than the sand by the seashore.
We speak of these thoughts as being the counsel of God. The counsel of God is His eternal good pleasure according to which He has determined all that would occur in time. Scripture uses different words to speak of that counsel. There is the word “counsel” — the purpose of God. There is the word “decree,” referring to the fact that God determined or even spoke these things. There is the term “good pleasure,” which Scripture uses to refer to the counsel of God. That term “good pleasure” refers to the fact that God determined that in which He delights. There is the word “the will of God,” His desires. The word “thoughts” is not used elsewhere in Scripture, to my knowledge, to refer to the counsel of God. But it does indicate that this counsel and these decrees of God are Jehovah’s personal decrees, a matter of His mind and of His will, that they are close and precious to Him. Just as your thoughts and mine are most close and precious to us.
Regardless of what term we use, though, we are speaking here of what is in the mind of Jehovah. In general that is, first of all, His will to save His people in Jesus Christ. Secondly, His will to reject others to punishment on account of their sins. And, thirdly, His will to use everything that happens in time and in history to accomplish the purpose of salvation and of punishing the wicked to the glory of His name.
What characterizes these thoughts of Jehovah? They are, in the first place, eternal. God is never without His decrees. Secondly, they are immutable, that is, they do not change. What God has decreed He will carry out. They are, thirdly, sovereign. No one of us or any other creature helped God determine what He should do and what He should think. And none of us helped God carry out what He has determined to do. God does this alone. They are also all-comprehensive. There is no event that happens in time or history that God has not decreed or thought.
That all these things characterize the counsel or thoughts of God is clear from Isaiah 46:10 and 11. There Isaiah says that God declares “the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure: calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth my counsel from a far country: yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it.” Jehovah there expresses that what He has from ancient times, from all eternity, determined to do He will surely carry out.
These are the thoughts of which David speaks now. And on these thoughts of Jehovah David meditates. Now somebody objects: You cannot meditate on the counsel of God. The counsel of God is secret. And somebody points us, perhaps, to Deuteronomy 29:29 , “The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.” There Moses tells the people of Israel that they need not worry about anything that God has not revealed to them. But what they must do is give themselves over to obeying the law of God, for that God has revealed. So, someone might say, “We cannot meditate on the thoughts of God. We do not know them. And to meditate on them is pointless.”
There is, of course, some truth to that. It is true to this extent: any thoughts of God, any aspects of His decrees that have not been revealed or made known to us, we cannot and ought not busy ourselves with. David, therefore, meditates on the thoughts of God, those aspects of the counsel and decree of God, that God has revealed.
One way in which God makes those thoughts known is in creation and in history. The child of God can meditate on the work of God in creating the universe and in sustaining the universe. The child of God can meditate on the work of God in history, governing everything that happens, and see that everything that has happened to this point is the unfolding of the counsel of God.
But to the believing child of God, there is more than simply the making known of God in history and in creation. The child of God also knows the thoughts of God, for they are revealed in Scripture. In Scripture God makes known His purpose for all of history and how He will realize it. The child of God, reading and studying Scripture, can understand why God sends storms and earthquakes and wars. The child of God, reading Scripture, understands this thought of God that His purpose in all of creation is to create another creation in which His people will dwell with Him to all eternity.
The child God, as he opens up Scripture, comes to understand the thoughts of God with regard to the wicked. Why does God let the wicked continue in their wickedness? Why does not God judge them and punish them more quickly? Or why does not God turn them from their sins to the glory of His name? If the child of God does not understand the answer to that, he might quickly think that God loves the wicked more than He loves the righteous, for the wicked seem to be able to go on in their sins with impunity.
The child of God can meditate on the work of God
in creating the universe
and in sustaining the universe.
But there are reasons why God allows the wicked to do that. And Scripture makes those reasons known. He prepares the wicked through their sins for the day of destruction. As the child of God opens up Scripture he learns the reasons why God sends chastisement and afflictions upon His people. If we did not know those reasons, we might think, perhaps, God does not really love us. For He sends us hardships in life.
But as the child of God reads Scripture, the thoughts of God regarding afflictions are revealed. God uses our afflictions to prepare us for the salvation we have in heaven. As the child of God reads Scripture, he learns of this fundamental and all-governing thought of God, that everything that happens serves the salvation of the church in Jesus Christ for the glory of His name.
Of all of these thoughts David speaks.
How did he know them? He did not have the complete revelation of God in Scripture, of course. But he had the beginning of that revelation. He had the law of God. He had the Scriptures of the Old Testament. He had the prophets who had lived before him. He contemplates what he has of the revelation of God, and on that he meditates.
So should you, and so should I, dear radio listener, meditate on the things of God. Do you do that often? And, as you do that, what is your confession about them?
David confesses about those thoughts that they are precious (v. 17). To me, how precious! The word “precious” means highly valued. David was a rich man. He was the king of Israel. Therefore he had many earthly possessions that were, from an earthly viewpoint, very precious. But he indicates here in this text that even more precious than earthly things are the thoughts he has of God.
Is that true of you? Are there possessions that you have in your life that you value more highly than the knowledge of Jehovah God? We must come to understand just what about that knowledge of God is so precious, so that we can leave behind the thoughts of our possessions and strive for this knowledge of God.
Are there possessions that you have in your life
that you value more highly
than the knowledge of Jehovah God?
First of all, David regarded these thoughts of God as precious because they regarded God Himself — “how precious are thy thoughts to me, O God.” Here we have a testimony of David’s love for God. The servant who loves his master wants to know his master more, wants to know what he thinks. And the more the servant knows what his master thinks, the better he can serve him. So David would know what God thinks.
Do we not desire to know our loved ones more? Do we not ask them, “What are you thinking?” David shows his love for God by thinking on the thoughts of God. And these thoughts are precious because they are God’s thoughts.
Secondly, these thoughts are precious to David because they include David himself. David, as a man, is an insignificant and small and sinful creature. That is true of every man. That is true of every child of God. It is not our opinion about ourselves. We think that we are important. We think that mankind governs history. We think that mankind has discovered many things, that the world cannot exist apart from mankind. But if we compare ourselves to God, we see that we are sinful and small. Does God view us that way? No, in fact, He views His children in Jesus Christ as most significant. Though we are sinful and small, He loves us and He cares for us. The psalmist exclaims in Psalm 8:4 , “What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?” Truly, when we contemplate some of the creatures of God such as the moon, the stars, and the sun, much larger than we, more prominent than we, why is it that God should take care of and think of us? But in God’s thoughts, He has man and the salvation of mankind as His chief goal in all that happens in time and history. That is, the salvation of man to the glory of God’s name is the chief goal of God.
Is it not a marvelous thing when a chief executive officer of a corporation does not think only of the higher people in the hierarchy of the company, does not associate only with those of prestige, but thinks of the lowest employee and will take time to seek the good of the newest employee in the corporation? So God thinks of David. That makes the thoughts of God precious to David.
Thirdly, these thoughts are precious, then, because they are thoughts of our own salvation, thoughts of how God is preparing each of His children in Jesus Christ to come to heaven and dwell with God there to all eternity.
Do you understand that these are the thoughts of God, that this is why the thoughts of God are precious? Do you see Scripture, the Word of God in which He reveals Himself, to be precious? Do you consider the works of God in history to be precious? Do you love to see God reveal Himself and do you love to meditate on that revelation?
So deeply does David think of the thoughts of God that he gives most attention and care to them. David meditates on God.
How deeply does he meditate on God and how often? So deeply and so often that David knows how great the sum of those thoughts is. He speaks of that also in verses 17 and 18: “How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand.” Now, if you have ever gone to a beach, you know how numerous the grains of sand are. You do not know exactly the number of grains of sand, but that they are very numerous you know. Have you ever tried counting the grains of sand by the beach? It is an impossible task. But God knows not merely the fact that there are billions and billions of grains of sand in the world, He knows how many there are. We do not. And yet when David speaks of the thoughts of God, the thoughts of God in His decrees, he says, “If I should count them they are more in number than the sand.” Truly the counsel of God is infinite, as God Himself is.
David meditates on this counsel of God so deeply that, as he says, “When I awake, I am still with thee.” His point is not to say that when he awakes from the sleep of death he will be with God, in the presence of God. His point is this: As he contemplates about God and loses himself sometimes in his meditations on God and then comes back to his consciousness, he realizes that still he is in the presence of God and in the counsel of God and that he is still thinking of the wonderful things of God. Or, we can say, that when he falls asleep on his bed at night having meditated on God and he awakes in the morning, he has found new reasons to meditate on God again. He realizes this because he has meditated on God so deeply and intensely.
How great is the love of God for us! Do you meditate on that?
We need encouragement in our life to meditate on God the way David did. Our text gives us this encouragement. It gives it because it speaks of the pleasure of the child of God in meditating on the things of God. David is speaking of a pleasurable experience. How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! How great is the sum of them! Do you think that meditating on the revelation and things of God is so precious? By nature we do not. We do not take the time to meditate on God. We have a busy earthly life. When we finally have time to sit down and relax, we do not want to meditate on spiritual things because that can be hard work. And, finally, when we do sit down to meditate on spiritual things and the Scriptures of God, we might fall asleep or easily become distracted.
All of this indicates that to our nature it is not a pleasurable thing to meditate on the counsel of God. But we have to fight against that nature. We have to be encouraged to meditate on the counsel and the revelation of God by knowing that this is for the child of God a pleasurable thing to do. It is not only David in this psalm who indicates that. But the psalmist in other places expresses his great love for God: sweeter than honey in his mouth is the law of God. He meditates on the law of God day and night.
How can that become true for you and for me? There is really no easy answer. To meditate on spiritual things is an exercise. To grow physically in strength takes exercise. Exercise takes time and it takes hard work. That is true, also, of our meditations on God. The way to do it is by prayer and Bible study — prayer and Bible study alone, prayer and Bible study with your family, prayer and Bible study with your friends.
To meditate on spiritual things is an exercise.
But all of this takes time. Do you have that time? Will you find that time? And, maybe better yet, we can ask, Do you love God as much as David does? For that, ultimately, is what it takes in order to find time and pleasure in meditating on God. If we love God, we will spend time with Him. Even when we are not focused on Him in specific reading of Scripture and in prayer with eyes shut and hands folded, we can think of Him throughout the day — as we ride down the road, as we take a walk, as we work. There are many occasions throughout the day in which we can meditate on His greatness.
What is so great about Jehovah? He is the all-knowing, all-powerful, everywhere-present God who has determined everything that happens in time and history from all eternity.
Do you know that of Him? Do you meditate on these virtues of His? Do you love Him as the all-knowing God? Amen.