Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life. – Psalm 139:23-24 ESV
David closes out his prayer with a powerful petition. It is an apt summation of all that he has prayed up to this point. Fully aware that God knows everything about him and that there is nothing he can hide from God, David requests that God reveal what’s going on in the inside of his own heart. This simply prayer reveals so much of what David knew about God, but ultimately, it lets us know that David knew God loved him. David trusted God. He was asking God to reveal things in his life to which he was either blind or simply oblivious. Rather than fear God’s omniscience, David wanted to take advantage of it. He wanted the all-knowing, ever-present God to search inside the recesses of his heart and “point out anything in me that offends you.” That’s a risky proposition. Not because God is going to discover something He didn’t already know. That’s been David’s point all along. God already knows. But it’s risky, because it means that God is going to reveal to David what he doesn’t know, and then David is going to be faced with the choice of agreeing with it and confessing it, or disagreeing with it and denying it. The former results in God’s forgiveness. The latter will result in His discipline.
But this prayer of David’s should be that of every individual who calls Christ his or her Savior. Our relationship with Jesus Christ has provided us with an intimate relationship with God the Father. We are able to come into His presence and enjoy His love, grace and forgiveness. He has created us, redeemed us, and knows everything about us. He loves us deeply and sent His Son not only to die for us, but to make it possible for us to be progressively transformed into His image. To do that, He is constantly exposing the sin in our life so that we might confess it and enjoy His forgiveness. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9 ESV). The truth is, we are incapable of seeing so much of the darkness that lies within our own hearts. Jeremiah the prophet wrote, “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?” (Jeremiah 17:9 ESV). The answer is God. He knows our hearts and He can reveal what is hidden from our view. God alone can reveal what is behind our “anxious thoughts.” The Hebrew word David uses is sar`aph and it refers to “disquieting thoughts.” God can tell us why we’re so anxious and worried. He can tell us what is driving our fear. We may think it is a past-due bill, but God may show us that it really our lack of trust in His provision. We may think our anxiety is due to a damaged relationship, but God may reveal that it is really a fear of man or our own lack of love. God has the innate ability to get to the root issue. And so often, it is the result of sin. There was a time in David’s life when he was having trouble sleeping. He could have written it off to his high-pressure job as king of Israel. But God reveals that it was the result of his affair with Bathsheba. David had internalized and rationalized his sin. But God saw it all and made sure David saw it as He did. That’s where the risk comes in.
But David knew that it was better to have his sins exposed by God than to try and live with them hidden. He knew he could fool others, but he could never fool God. He knows everything. And God was the key to David’s spiritual transformation. He needed God to help him live righteously. He was a man after God’s own heart, but he desperately needed God to constantly renew his heart. Refusing to let God reveal what is going on inside our hearts is like going to the doctor and refusing to let him tell us what is wrong with us. Not knowing will not make us better. Ignorance is not bliss. Unrevealed sin, like unseen cancer, does not mean it does not exist. It is there, wreaking havoc on our spiritual lives and doing damage to all those around us. We should want to know what God knows. When God had revealed to David the depth of the sin he had committed with Bathsheba, David prayed, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10 ESV). God had convicted him. Now David wanted God to cleanse him. He knew that God alone was capable of cleaning up the mess he had made with his life. God doesn’t just give us the prognosis, He provides the cure. He doesn’t just point out our sin, He makes possible the prescription for renewed spiritual health and vitality.
We can’t confess what we don’t know. That’s why we need God. We tend to see only the symptoms of our sin. God sees the source. He knows the root cause of all our thoughts, words and actions. We are blind to our pride, envy, idolatry, lust and more. But God sees it all. So David wanted the all-knowing God, who made Him and knew everything about him, to shine His divine flashlight into the recesses of his heart and point out anything and everything that offended Him. That’s a risky, yet rewarding prayer to pray, because it will show us things we don’t want to see, but it will also allow God to make us who He desires us to be.