New American Bible (Revised Edition)
The All-knowing and Ever-present God
1 For the leader. A psalm of David.
Lord, you have probed me, you know me:
2 you know when I sit and stand;[b](A)
you understand my thoughts from afar.
3 You sift through my travels and my rest;
with all my ways you are familiar.
4 Even before a word is on my tongue,
Lord, you know it all.
5 Behind and before you encircle me
and rest your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
far too lofty for me to reach.(B)
7 Where can I go from your spirit?
From your presence, where can I flee?
8 If I ascend to the heavens, you are there;
if I lie down in Sheol, there you are.(C)
9 If I take the wings of dawn[c]
and dwell beyond the sea,
10 Even there your hand guides me,
your right hand holds me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely darkness shall hide me,
and night shall be my light”[d]—
12 Darkness is not dark for you,
and night shines as the day.
Darkness and light are but one.(D)
13 You formed my inmost being;
you knit me in my mother’s womb.(E)
14 I praise you, because I am wonderfully made;
wonderful are your works!
My very self you know.
15 My bones are not hidden from you,
When I was being made in secret,
fashioned in the depths of the earth.[e]
16 Your eyes saw me unformed;
in your book all are written down;(F)
my days were shaped, before one came to be.
17 How precious to me are your designs, O God;
how vast the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them, they would outnumber the sands;
when I complete them, still you are with me.(G)
19 When you would destroy the wicked, O God,
the bloodthirsty depart from me!(H)
20 Your foes who conspire a plot against you
are exalted in vain.
21 Do I not hate, Lord, those who hate you?
Those who rise against you, do I not loathe?(I)
22 With fierce hatred I hate them,
enemies I count as my own.
- Psalm 139 A hymnic meditation on God’s omnipresence and omniscience. The psalmist is keenly aware of God’s all-knowing gaze (Ps 139:1–6), of God’s presence in every part of the universe (Ps 139:7–12), and of God’s control over the psalmist’s very self (Ps 139:13–16). Summing up Ps 139:1–16, 17–18 express wonder. There is only one place hostile to God’s rule—wicked people. The psalmist prays to be removed from their company (Ps 139:19–24).
- 139:2 When I sit and stand: in all my physical movement.
- 139:9 Take the wings of dawn: go to the extremities of the east. Beyond the sea: uttermost bounds of the west; the sea is the Mediterranean.
- 139:11 Night shall be my light: night to me is what day is to others.
- 139:15 The depths of the earth: figurative language for the womb, stressing the hidden and mysterious operations that occur there.
- 139:24 Lead me along an ancient path: the manner of living of our ancestors, who were faithful to God’s will, cf. Jer 6:16.