“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Ps. 139:14)
Last week our son emailed this photo of our newest grandson who is expected to be born around the middle of May. Upon receiving it, my first impression was amazement that the 3D ultrasound technology used to create this image allows us to see with such clarity what he is going to look like two months before he will be born.
But such thoughts were quickly overshadowed by reflections on the awesome wonder of the miracle of birth itself as it was so well articulated by David in Psalm 139:13-14, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”
Psalm 139 is perhaps my favorite of all the psalms. I don’t know of a writing in all of Scripture which so well captures the wonder of God’s highest order of creation – a reflection of God himself, and the relationship of God with man. It was written by David, a man whom God described as “a man after my own heart”. (Acts 13:22) David’s passion for God comes through so clearly in all of his psalms, but his awe of God is perhaps best expressed in Psalm 139.
He begins with the words “O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. … Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord. … Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.” (V1-2,4,6) David expresses an overwhelming sense of reverence and awareness of God’s all-encompassing personal interest in him. He acknowledges that the limitations of our mind’s capacity and our human experience prevent us from truly comprehending such truths.
In the next few verses, David marvels at the omnipresence of God, saying “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?” (V7) David was certainly a man who exhibited and expressed a great passion for God – a passion that was rooted in his awareness of God’s presence. We have much to learn from David in that regard. Being continually aware of God’s presence is an essential spiritual discipline if we are to live a life that is pleasing to God and which brings glory to God – a life characterized by walking in the Spirit (Gal.5:16) and having our paths directed by the Lord. (Prov. 3:5-6)
In verses 13-16, David marvels at the wondrous way in which he was created. We certainly know enormously more today than David could ever have imagined about the process of procreation, how our bodies are formed in the womb, the mysteries of DNA that define so much about us individually, and that sets us apart from other living creatures. And yet the more that we learn, the more I stand with David in awe, reverence, and wonder.
I marvel at the technology that allows us to view such vivid images of our grandson two months before he is born; technology created by man that allows my son to transmit that image to me; technology that allows me to transfer that image to this article; and that allows me to then post this article where it can be accessed by anyone with an internet connection. But as amazing as all that is, it pales in comparison to the miracle of birth itself.
Biomedical engineers today are designing synthetic skin tissue, well-functioning artificial organs, and prosthetic body parts for victims of amputations that are allowing people to regain a wide range of function – even connecting those parts to nerves that allow them to be controlled by the brain. But as sophisticated as those parts have become, I’m confident that human intelligence and ability will never be able to replicate God’s original design and creation.
All those parts are created out of existing materials, but our bodies grew from a single egg fertilized by a single sperm cell. I read recently that all the eggs and sperm that resulted in the seven billion people who inhabit this planet could fit in two quart jars. Take a moment to ponder that!
But apart from the physical design of our bodies, David also recognized that what sets us apart from the rest of creation is our personal connection with the divine Creator who made us in His own image; a Creator with mysterious divine foreknowledge; a God who knows all our days before one of them came to be. David says in V17, “How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!”
God’s greatest desire for each of us is that we know him as well as he knows us; that we connect with him more intimately than we connect with anyone; that we submit to him as our highest authority; and that we live our lives as he leads us. David captures that so well in those closing verses, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (V23-24)
The greatest truths we need to grasp about creation are embodied in this beautiful psalm of awe and wonder, recognizing that we are indeed fearfully and wonderfully made; that we were created for fellowship with God; that he desires to lead us in the way everlasting; and that he has defined that way clearly through the written Word and through the Living Word – the Lord Jesus Christ.
My newest grandson is to be named Phinehas (Phin for short) – a name which is synonymous with a passion for God. Phinehas was the grandson of Aaron, Moses’ brother and the first priest of Israel. He was distinguished by the Lord as “zealous for the honor of his God”. (Num. 25:13) My hope is that Phin will exercise a passion for the Lord like David’s that makes him worthy of that name.
Until next time, may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
“As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things. (Eccl. 11:5)
Note: All Scripture verses taken from the New International Version (NIV)