search me, try me, lead me

We are discussing true introspection.

For those who are interested, David provides a key into biblical introspection through one of his psalms.

At the end of Psalm 139, David records this prayer of self-examination:

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!  24    And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!

Psalm 139:23-24

Something prompted David to make these requests.  What was it that so convicted David?  What provoked him to seek for full disclosure before God?

When you read the entire psalm you learn David realized there was NO ESCAPE FROM GOD.  No matter where David fled or what he thought or did, David could not escape from God.

First, David could not escape from GOD’S KNOWLEDGE:

1 O Lord, you have searched me and known me! 2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. 3 You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. 4 Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. 5 You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.  6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.

Psalm 139:1-6

Next, David could not escape from GOD’S PRESENCE:

7 Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? 8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! 9 If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, 10 even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. 11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” 12 even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.

Psalm 139:7-12

Also, David could not escape from GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY AND POWER.

13 For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there were none of them. 17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! 18 If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you. 19 Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God! O men of blood, depart from me! 20 They speak against you with malicious intent; your enemies take your name in vain!  21 Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord? And do I not loathe those who rise up against you? 22 I hate them with complete hatred; I count them my enemies.

Psalm 139:13-22

Thus, David comes to this inescapable conclusion:

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!  24 And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!

Psalm 139:23-24

David makes three requests.

Request #1: SEARCH ME

Search me, O God, and know my heart…

Ask God to closely examine your heart, everything about you – your motives, your desires, your plans, your ideas, your dreams, your hopes, your passions.  Put it all on the line.  The Lord already knows what is in your heart.  Ask Him to reveal the deepest parts of your heart to you.

True introspection begins when we ask God to examine our hearts.  Our hearts can fool us, they can lead us astray.

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

Jeremiah 17:9

Request #2: TRY ME

Try me and know my thoughts…

What you think about, dwell on, spend time contemplating most defines who you are and what you do.  Ask the Lord to help you think on those things that really matter.

8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Philippians 4:8

Request #3: LEAD ME

And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

The Lord wants to lead me in His ways.  Every day, every moment, I have a choice.  I can go my way or I can go His way.  When I go my way I grieve Him.  When I go His way I please Him.  True evaluations lead to a deeper determination to going to God’s way.
There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.

Proverbs 14:12

As you evaluate who and where you are, take time today to make the same request, as David did:

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!  24 And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!

Psalm 139:23-24


1 Response to “search me, try me, lead me”

  1. January 4, 2009 at 10:19 pm

    So well put and such meaningful verses for me. I just shared a quote from John Ortberg’s God is Closer than You Think with my 10 year old daughter. God usually shows me things in threes as I am sometimes slow to hear (shema). There’s usually a theme every so many months or for a year and He is showing our family more details of His plan as we trust in Him. I’m so thankful for a new year of discovering new facets of myself, loved ones, and loved ones to be that only God can reveal since we are His design. I’m also so thankful He enjoys us as we enjoy our own children and even more so. Thanks, Ryan. May God richly bless the faithful and swiftly convict the faithless.

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