The Holy See
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New American Bible

2002 11 11
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Chapter 139


1 For the leader. A psalm of David. I LORD, you have probed me, you know me:


2 you know when I sit and stand; you understand my thoughts from afar.


My travels and my rest you mark; with all my ways you are familiar.


Even before a word is on my tongue, LORD, you know it all.


Behind and before you encircle me and rest your hand upon me.


Such knowledge is beyond me, far too lofty for me to reach.


Where can I hide from your spirit? From your presence, where can I flee?


If I ascend to the heavens, you are there; if I lie down in Sheol, you are there too.


3 If I fly with the wings of dawn and alight beyond the sea,


Even there your hand will guide me, your right hand hold me fast.


4 If I say, "Surely darkness shall hide me, and night shall be my light"  - 


Darkness is not dark for you, and night shines as the day. Darkness and light are but one.


You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother's womb.


I praise you, so wonderfully you made me; wonderful are your works! My very self you knew;


5 my bones were not hidden from you, When I was being made in secret, fashioned as in the depths of the earth.


Your eyes foresaw my actions; in your book all are written down; my days were shaped, before one came to be.


How precious to me are your designs, O God; how vast the sum of them!


Were I to count, they would outnumber the sands; to finish, I would need eternity.


If only you would destroy the wicked, O God, and the bloodthirsty would depart from me!


Deceitfully they invoke your name; your foes swear faithless oaths.


Do I not hate, LORD, those who hate you? Those who rise against you, do I not loathe?


With fierce hatred I hate them, enemies I count as my own.


Probe me, God, know my heart; try me, know my concerns.


6 See if my way is crooked, then lead me in the ancient paths.



1 [Psalm 139] A hymnic meditation on God's omnipresence and omniscience. The psalmist is keenly aware of God's all-knowing gaze ( Psalm 139:1-6), of God's presence in every part of the universe ( Psalm 139:7-12), and of God's control over the psalmist's very self ( Psalm 139:13-16). Summing up Psalm 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 ( Psalm 139:19-24).

2 [2] When I sit and stand: in all my physical movement.

3 [9] Fly with the wings of dawn: go to the extremities of the east. Beyond the sea: uttermost bounds of the west; the sea is the Mediterranean.

4 [11] Night shall be my light: night to me is what day is to others.

5 [15] The depths of the earth: figurative language for the womb, stressing the hidden and mysterious operations that occur there.

6 [24] My way . . . the ancient paths: the manner of living of our ancestors, who were faithful to God's will. Cf Jeremiah 6:16.

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