Hemmed In

Feeling a bit claustrophobic this morning . . . but in a good way. Chewing on Psalm 139. Considering the reality that I am hemmed in.

O LORD, You have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, You know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it. (Psalm 139:1-6 ESV)

There it is . . . in verse five . . . “You hem me in, behind and before, and lay Your hand upon me” . . . blessed claustrophobia!

The word translated “hem in” is the word “to besiege” or “to lay siege”. The picture is that of an army that surrounds the city of its enemy on all sides . . . making no way of escape . . . pressing in . . . that eventually there would be surrender . . . if not surrender, pressing in that the walls might eventually be breached and the enemies taken captive. Not exactly the position you want to be found in when it’s your enemies who have you surrounded . . . but what if it’s your God?

David, in this song, is led by the Spirit to consider the omniscience and the omnipresence of his God . . . to meditate on the implications of his Sovereign who is all-knowing and all-present . . . to noodle on the implications of his LORD who discerns every thought, is acquainted with every way, and knows every word before it is spoken . . . and who is present when every step is taken. Bottom line . . . hemmed in.

And while, in general, there is something uncomfortable about being besieged–something that can make it hard to breathe as you consider that you are pressed in on every side– . . . when the One doing the besieging . . . the One doing the pressing . . . the One doing the hemming in . . . when that One is the God who formed you (vv. 13-15) . . . when that One is He who has ordained every one of your days and designed them for His glory (v. 16) . . . when that One is the heavenly Father who gave of His only Son to redeem you (Gal. 4:4-6) . . . and when that One is He who knows “the plans I have for you . . . plans for wholeness and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jer. 29:11) . . . then the siege is welcome . . . the response is “bring it on!”

Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!
.                                                                         (Psalm 139:23-24 ESV)

David knew he was hemmed in . . . that God’s hand had been laid upon him . . . the hand that would lead him, that hand that would hold him (v. 10) . . . and so David welcomed the closed in quarters . . . confident to invite God to know his heart . . . to search his motives . . . to try his thoughts . . . and to expose any ways that would grieve a holy God . . . so that he might walk in the way everlasting.

Hemmed in . . . captive . . . no where to go . . . no place I’d rather be.


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