If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you. – Psalm 139:8-12 ESV
God had David surrounded. Because God is omnipresent, there was no place David could go to escape His presence – even if he wanted to. David used terms that expressed the full extent of his awareness of distance when He referred to God’s pervasive presence. Heaven was about as high as it got in David’s day. He had no real knowledge of the scope of the universe. He knew nothing about what might lie beyond what his eyes could see. When it came to depth, sheol was about as far down as it got for David. This was the Old Testament designation for the abode of the dead. David seems to be saying that from heaven to hell and everywhere in between, God is there. Even if David could jump on a ship and sail across the seas, God would still be there to lead him and protect him. There is no place man can go that God is not there. But David is not espousing some form of pantheism, a doctrine that identifies God with the universe and denies His personal existence. In other words, pantheism simply equates God as present in everything. He is in the trees, water, air, rocks, and within every animal and human being. David believed in a personal, individual God who was spirit and was unlimited by space and time. David saw God as deeply involved in His life, holding him in His hands and guiding him lovingly. He was not some impersonal all-pervasive force.
One of the most comforting concepts David held about God was His existence in his life at all times. David used a real-life example of feeling as if the darkness of life would overwhelm and consume him. “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night” (Psalm 139:11 ESV). For David, the darkness was a metaphor for misery, destruction, sorrow, and even wickedness. He is expressing the all-too-familiar feeling we all get when we feel as if the dark times of life will overwhelm and crush us under their weight. It is at those times that the light of life appears to be going out. Despair and depression set in. Even the light of life begins to fade. But at those times, David would have us remember that darkness is no problem for God – “even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.” There is no event in our lives that God does not see. There are no dark, despairing circumstances that lie hidden from His view. He sees all and He knows all. Nothing happen to us that escapes His awareness. He is never surprised by the situations in which we find ourselves. But God is not just aware, He cares – “even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.”
Paul shared David’s view of God. He wrote, “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39 ESV). There may come times when you wish God was not there to see you in your sin, but He will be. You may experience moments when it feels like God has abandoned you, but He hasn’t. You might even feel like your circumstances are proof that God has fallen out of love you, but He never will. He will never leave you or forsake you. You can’t run or hide from Him, disappear from His sight, drop off His radar, fall from His grace, or lose His love. Our God is inescapable and His love is unavoidable – in the good times and the bad times, in the light and the dark, on the heights and in the valleys, in our moments of delight and despair. Life can be very inconsistent, but our God can always be counted on.