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
We are masters of disguise, are we not? We are adept at hiding our innermost feelings from those around us. We can place the most villainous or depraved thoughts deep in the recesses of our mind and feel confident that no one will ever know–maybe they won’t. With a certainty, though, we can say that God knows.
David’s prayer in these verses is not so that God will search us so that HE may know what is in our heart. The entire psalm is about God’s knowledge of what is going on in the “secret” parts of our life. I believe that David was asking God to search him and then reveal to him the things about his life that were displeasing to God.
The word “search”, as used here, literally means, “to penetrate”. David has described the things that he is doing externally in his effort to please God, but he wants God to look beneath the veneer of activity into the substance of the soul. David realized that man has the potential for bitterness, anger, lust, murder, pride…any of the sinful desires of the flesh, and he knew that sometimes these impulses and imaginations could be compartmentalized and buried within us. Often these sins can be so deeply ingrained in our persona that we do not realize they are there. At other times we may have forgotten about unrepented-of sins in our past.
Are we willing to ask God to penetrate our heart, looking past the vain facades of denial, apathy and self-confidence? Are we able to place the entire evaluation of thoughts, motives and imaginations in His hands, asking Him to point out to us the areas of our life that displease Him?
What if He does start identifying trouble spots in our life? How will we respond? Will we meekly acquiesce to His verdict or will we become “spiritual lawyers” who look for loopholes or extenuating circumstances? Even worse, will we harden our heart to the conviction of His Spirit?
What we must never forget is that God already knowswhat is in our heart. This prayer is simply a matter of humbling ourselves before God and responding to His word, “lead me in the way everlasting”.