What they really should tell us is that a heart after God is the same thing as retching in the toilet. Because, humility. Tried it? Ugh!
Psalm 139 was written by David, the guy known as being a man after God’s own heart. This Psalm can be found on the walls of nurseries and the walls of our hearts. It is comforting to know that there is One single person in the whole universe that knows us completely. “What a mercy that there is one being who can know us to perfection! He is intimately at home with us!” Charles Spurgeon
I can remember losing our baby and falling on my white rug in our bathroom, sobbing, quoting over and over again, “wonderful are Your works, I know that full well…wonderful are Your works, I know that full well…” It was a mantra to carry me from my human anguish straight to His heart. I knew He had beautifully knit this child together, and that one day, I would enjoy what He had created in a land where death and sin dare not enter.
But, Psalm 139 confuses me a little. It starts with, “You have searched me, LORD, and You know me.” Then the next beautiful verses describe His omnipresence and omniscience and how we can’t outrun him or hide from the very one who knit us together in the secret recesses of our mother’s womb. This God even thinks constantly about us, some vast collection of thoughts that goes beyond our human understanding of math!
But, the last couple of verses seem to ask the obvious of what has already been stated. “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.” (Psalm 139:23-24)
Wicked in Hebrew is “otseb.” It can mean image, idol, pain, or sorrow. Perhaps we are on the road “derek,” (way or journey) to grief due to an idol that we aren’t even aware of. What if there is something that is alienating us from the Father’s heart that we are totally unaware of?
I think David had already searched himself, but he knows that being mere man brings limitations in holiness, blindness to crevices of hidden sin, and arrogance that refuses to believe there is anything really wrong in the first place. He recognizes his humanity and his need for a Savior. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:3 A man after God falls on his face and admits just how desperate (and human!) he is.
A heart after God humbly invites God into all areas–the hidden pockets of fear, hurt, rejection, pride, unbelief, selfishness, and apathy–and asks Him to gently shine His perfect light on what brings grief to ourselves and to those around us. We ask God to “try” us, from the Hebrew word “bachan,” which basically means asking God to investigate our motives and the integrity behind our actions. (We then go throw up, realizing what we have asked of Him!)
God wants to take the aspects of character that mar perfect love and trade them for Christ like character found in the way everlasting, the “derek” or path of peace, joy, and satisfaction. “Yet we may each one desire such searching; for it would be a terrible calamity to us for sin to remain in our hearts unknown and undiscovered.” Spurgeon
What if I’m too scared to muster the courage to ask God to search me and know me and try me?
“Lord, we want to be women and men after your own heart. We want to hate the sin that mars the image of your perfect love and embrace the refiner’s tool that cuts it out. Give us grace to pray boldly for you to enter in. We rejoice that the One that knows us completely is the One that upholds us with mercy and grace. Come and do your work, Lord. Lead us in the way everlasting.”