How vast is the sum of them!
This psalm is filled with thoughts about God. From verse 1 to verse 24 there are amazing statements. We could easily spend our time on each one of these verses. I could preach for a Month of Sundays on this Psalm and there would be more yet to say. But I want to today concentrate on three of the thoughts that are in this psalm
Thought #1 –
5 You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me
The psalm says “You hem me in…” The word used suggests the idea of when an army building up a fortification around itself. It is saying that the Lord surrounds us in fort and behind. He protects us from the danger we see to that which creeps up on us from behind.
God protects us with his strength. There is a show on TV about the government building a machine that watches us all the time. It is starting to feel like there is no privacy any more. So how is it that God can know and be fully interested in you, at the same time he knows and is fully aware of me? And he is fully aware of the person sitting near you, and everyone in this room, and all those who are in Childrens’ Church. You may be thinking about hip surgery and the little one is worried about a diaper change. Add to that the idea that God is in front and behind of every person on the earth. Everyone who is born into his kingdom is protected. How can God multi task to this extent.
God protects us by his tenderness. When it says, “You lay your hand upon me” it is a tender and kind had. God is able to be powerful against our enemies, but he is able to be close and comforting to his people. And so the Psalmist says, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.”
If we try to understand God’s amazing love and at the same time his terrible wrath, we can’t do it. If we try to comprehend his power and his care at the same time, we fall short.
Thought #2 –
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
Have you ever seen the sun rise? Have you ever seen that from the side of a mountain? We visited the Grand Canyon last summer, and we arrived at the edge of it at sunrise. The early moments were misty and colored with shadows. The sun began to break through and you could see the light working its way across the landscape. This is the wings of the dawn; the break of day spreads its wings lie a bird and covers the landscape from East to West.
What if you could ride along with the dawn, on its daily path? What if you could pick up and settle on the far side of the sea – from the shores of Lake Monona to the South China Sea. God is still there. But not only is he there – where we are or where we might go, he is there go guide us and to guard us.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
The Psalmist is thinking about what God knows about him. God saw him when his body was not yet formed. How could God know what did not exist? How did God know that the Psalmist’s parents would meet, and marry and conceive him when they did?
Have you ever thought about this? My parents met after a church service. My mother’s father was a deacon in the Swedish Baptist church in St. Paul. They would invite young men to dinner after church. My dad had recently moved from the family farm in North Dakota to Saint Paul. He came to dinner and met my mother.
What if Dad decided to go to Fargo or Minneapolis or Kansas City instead? What if he did not go to church that Sunday? What if Mom had stayed home? Or gone out with friends to lunch? What if…what if…what if. Then I would not be here today. Move that backward a few generations, how impossible it seems that God would know you would be born.
Then add this – God knows already how long you will live. He knew that before you were born. So he will know about all the car accidents, as well as the heroic medical help. He will know the close calls on the interstate and the friend who invited you to exercise, which added years to your life. How can god know our choices before we know them? Are we robots who are only following a program? Is your life like a song on a CD, it plays what has been set down. Or do you, when you choose, actually choose?
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you.