God Knows Everything

Psalm 139

An EasyEnglish Translation with Notes (about 1200 word vocabulary) on Psalm 139


Gordon Churchyard

Words in boxes are from the Bible. Words in brackets, ( ), are not in the *Hebrew Bible.

The notes explain some of the words with a *star by them. A word list at the end explains the other words that have a *star by them.

The translated Bible text has yet to go through Advanced Checking.


Jesus said, "Your Father (God) knows how many hairs there are on your head!" (Matthew 10:30)

Psalm 139

  (This is) for the music leader.
  (It is) a psalm of David.

v1   *LORD, when you look at me you know all about me.

v2   You know when I sit down.
  And you know when I get up.
  You understand what I am thinking about
  (even when you are) far away.

v3   You see when I go (somewhere).
  And you see when I stay (at home).
  You remember everything that I do!

v4   For example, before I say a word,
  *LORD, you know all about it.

v5   You are all round me, in front (of me) and behind (me).
  You have put your *hand upon me.

v6   What you know (about me) is *wonderful.
  I cannot understand it.
  It is so high that I cannot climb up to it.

v7   Where can I go from your *Spirit?
  How can I run away from you?

v8   If I went up to *heaven, you would be there.
  If I went down to *Sheol, you would be there also.

v9   If I went:
    to where the sun rises (in the east)
    to the other side of the sea (in the west)

v10   your hand would be there.
  It would be my guide.
  Your right hand would give me help.

v11   If I say:
    I am sure that *darkness will hide me
    or, the light round me will change into night,

v12   *darkness and light are the same to you!
  *Darkness is not dark to you.
  The night shines as bright as the day (to you).

v13   But you, you made every part of me.
  You made me grow in my motherís *womb.

v14   I *praise you for the *mysterious and *wonderful way that you made me.
  I know very well that everything that you made is *wonderful.

v15   (Nothing) hid my body from you when I was growing in a secret place.
  This happened deep in the earth.

v16   Your eyes saw my body growing.
  Before I had lived one day,
  you wrote in your book how long I should live for!

v17   You have so many ideas, God.
  They are so difficult for me to understand.

v18   If I could count them all,
  there would be more than the *grains of sand (by the side of the sea).
  I would have to live (as long) as you to count them all!

v19   God, I hope that you will kill the *wicked (people)!
  And go away from me you *men of blood (murderers).

v20   They are your enemies.
  They say bad things about you that are not true.

v21   Do I *hate them that hate you, *LORD?
  Do I really hate them that attack you?

v22   (Yes) I do hate them, I really hate them.
  I think of them as my enemies.

v23   Look at me, God. And know (what is in) my *heart.
  Look into my mind and know my thoughts.

v24   See if I am doing anything bad that might hurt me.
  And lead me in the old ways.

The Story of Psalm 139

We do not know when David wrote this psalm. Some people think that the *prophet Zechariah wrote it; maybe he used Davidís words and rewrote (wrote again) them. Zechariah wrote a Book of the Bible. He lived 450 years after David.

What Psalm 139 means

This psalm is in 4 parts:

    Verses 1-6. God knows all about us.

    Verses 7-12. We cannot hide from God.

    Verses 13-18. God created (made) us.

    Verses 19-24. David prays about his enemies and himself.

God knows all about us

"When you look at me" in verse 1 means "when you study me, or give me an exam". *LORD is a special name for God. It is his *covenant name. A *covenant is when two people (or groups of people) agree. Here, God agrees to love and give help to his people. They agree to love and obey him. The *LORD sees every part of us. He even knows what we are going to say. He knows before we say it, (verse 4)! "Your hand" in verse 5 means "your power". It means what God does in this world. To understand this is like climbing a very high mountain, (verse 6). It is too high to get to the top!

We cannot hide from God

The Holy Spirit, or Spirit, (verse 7), is another name for God. If you go to *heaven (or the sky) or *Sheol (below the earth) God will find you. If you go to the east or the west, you cannot hide from him, (verses 8-9). His hand (or power) will always be with you, to be a guide and a help, (verse 10). David saw it as a good thing that God was always with him. He had God as a guide and someone to give him help. We cannot see in the *darkness, when there is no light. We cannot see when it is dark ... but God can, (verses 11-12)!

God made us

"The secret place" and "deep in the earth" mean his mother's womb, (verse 15). The womb is where mothers keep babies before they are born. Some Bible students think "difficult" should be "valuable" in verse 17. Both ideas are true! "Grains of sand" in verse 18 are "little bits of sand".

David prays about things

There is a quick change in the next 4 verses. The *psalmist (David) makes a *prayer of imprecation (asks for bad things to happen) for his enemies. They are Godís enemies too, (verse 20). In verse 19, David says that they are "*wicked people". "*Wicked" means "very, very bad". He also says that they are "men of blood", (or people that murder other people). Verse 21 asks if the *psalmist hates Godís enemies. Verse 22 gives the answer: "Yes!" "Hate" means the opposite of "love". The psalm finishes where it started. God is looking into the *psalmistís mind. "The old ways", (verse 24), are the right ways that God told people to walk in. They will never come to an end.

Something to do

1.  Pray the words of verses 23-24 and wait for Godís answer.

2.  Read about Psalms of Imprecation in Psalm 69 of this set.

Word List

covenant ~ two people have agreed what each should do (here, God and his people). Look in Psalm 120 about the covenant.

darkness ~ when there is no light.

grains of sand ~ little bits of sand.

hate ~ the opposite of love.

heart ~ part of the body. *Jews believed that you thought in your heart.

heaven ~ the home of God.

Jew ~ a person who is born from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their children.

LORD ~ the *covenant name for God (in a *covenant you agree with someone).

men of blood ~ murderers.

mysterious ~ nobody understands it.

praise ~ to say how great someone is; or, words that say how great someone is.

prayer ~ you say a *prayer when you speak to God.

prophesy ~ tell people what God thinks and will do.

prophet ~ someone who *prophesies.

psalmist ~ the person that wrote a psalm (or psalms).

Sheol ~ *Jews believed that you went to Sheol when you died.

sin ~ not to obey God; or what you do when you do not obey God.

Spirit ~ the Holy Spirit.

wicked ~ very, very bad.

womb ~ where mothers keep babies before they are born.

wonderful ~ great and surprising.


© 1999-2002, Wycliffe Associates (UK)

This publication is written in EasyEnglish Level A (1200 words).

December 2002

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