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.
The psalmist marveled at God’s knowledge of his life. God, his Creator, had hemmed him in behind and before. No thought could be in his mind without being immediately known by God. No word could proceed from his lips without God knowing of it in advance. The eternal God who inhabits the heavens had created him mysteriously and wonderfully, and went before him in all his journeys. The knowledge was overwhelming to him and it caused his heart to doubt its integrity. Had he loved the things that God loved? Had he hated the things that God hated? Had he acted in trust according to the knowledge of God he had received?
The psalm ended with the only logical request one could make of God in such a revelation, “Search me and try me.” God had already known his heart, as the psalmist had already stated. This request was for the psalmist to know his own heart as God revealed it to him. Such a prayer as answered by God would provide an overwhelming revelation of the darkness of our hearts. It is a good prayer to pray, but a word of warning should be offered: the answer may provide information about us that we would not like. We might be more comfortable living in the illusion of how wonderful we are, than really dealing with the truth of the darkness of our hearts.
The psalmist prayed also, “Lead me in the way everlasting,” that is the eternal pathway of God, and this gives us hope. God convicts always with a desire that we would repent and receive His grace as a covering for our failures. He picks us up out of the ashes of our failures and sets our feet upon the Rock that is Christ, so that we might start new.
But the prayer, “Show me to myself,” sincerely prayed, can provide God with the opportunity to do just that. It is a humbling revelation, or revelations, many, about our failures. It is a journey into the blackness of our souls that we dare not take without the lantern of God’s grace. Every motive, every foolish action, every careless word, every prideful thought, every pain we have caused others, every denial of our Savior, every impurity – it is all quite overwhelming. We have preached that once sin is confessed that it is forgiven and best forgotten. That is true, yet often we do not grasp the full extent of our sin until we have matured in life, we do not realize just how foolish we were or are until we have grown some in God’s grace.
This is why the Bible presents the Christian life as a life of constant repentance before our gracious and loving God, who cleanses, forgives, and restores. Lately, as I have learned more about my motives and the pain my actions in the past have caused others, I have been more impressed with the greatness of God’s grace. God imposed humiliation always leads to our forgiveness and empowerment in His grace. Whom God would exalt He first humbles and disciplines. There is no crown without the cross, and the cross received as the symbol of God’s grace and born in the death and denial of our self, is the answer of God to our sin. Like an ointment that defeats a spreading infection in a wound, so meditating on the cross of Christ and its efficiency to forgive and restore, heals the heart wounded by personal sins.
Before you go into the darkness of the answer to that prayer, “Lord, show me to myself,” take the lantern of the grace of God in Christ and apply it to every ugly sin in your heart. If we confess our sins God is faithful to His nature and His promises and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Lord, I marvel at your grace that has reached to me. Search me, try me, cleanse me, restore me, fill me, and use me. Amen.