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Lent 2015 Devotional—Day 28

2015LentCoverWebKnitted And Woven

For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them,
    they would outnumber the grains of sand—
    when I awake, I am still with you.
Psalm 139:13-18

The opening word, “For”, in today’s text links us with the previous verses in order to answer how God knows David, and us, so intimately, so completely. The answer is that it is God who weaves David and ordains all his days while yet in his mother’s womb. God guides the human fetal formation. David lives out all the days of his life from embryo to grave in God’s presence and care.

David waxes poetic describing how God created him “in the secret place”, skillfully weaving him together “in the depths of the earth”. These are figures of speech for his mother’s womb in which he was created as far from human view as the depths of the earth. Though hidden from human eyes, before the days of sonogram or genome, David knows that he was not hidden from God’s caring eyes: “Your eyes saw my unformed body.” He paints God as the consummate artist who is like “a skillful weaver of embroidered cloth dedicated to creating his magnum opus. His studio is the dark chamber of a mother’s womb.” (Bruce Waltke and James Houston, The Psalms As Christian Worship) Various texts in the Hebrew Scriptures about God’s forming us in the womb suggest loving care (Job 31:15; Isaiah 49:5; Jeremiah 1:5).

As David contemplates his creation in the womb he can only praise God, knowing that he is “fearfully and wonderfully made”. The Jerusalem Bible renders this last phrase “a wonder am I...” But lest anyone think that David’s gestation in the womb is alone uniquely wonderful, he expands the truth in the next phrase to include all that God does: “your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

Beyond the mystery of the womb David takes us back into yet greater mystery, that the Lord formed his destiny: “all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” David knows that all the days of his life, their beginning, number, and end, were written in God’s book while he was yet in the womb. As each day passes, David – and you and I – can live with confident assurance that our lives are in God’s hands.

As David contemplates the wonder and mystery of God and His loving involvement in all of life, he exclaims: “How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them!” David knows that if he were to count God’s thoughts about him “they would outnumber the grains of sand – when I awake, I am still with you.” Various Bible commentators suggest that David falls asleep, not counting sheep, but counting God’s thoughts about him. When David awakes he is totally caught up in God’s loving, intimate care for him from beginning to end.

We can all praise God for the wonder and mystery of who we are. How wonderful are the works of the Lord!

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