Psalm 139:2
You know my sitting down and my rising up, you understand my thought afar off.
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(2) Down-sitting and uprising—as in Deuteronomy 6:7, to denote the whole daily life—business and rest.

Thought.—An Aramaic form found nowhere else, but, from one possible derivation (“companion”), meaning the thoughts which are inseparable companions, most intimate thoughts.

Comp. Macbeth 3:2:

“How now, my lord? Why do you keep alone,

Of sorriest fancies your companions making?”

Afar off.—Exactly as in Psalm 138:6. Jehovah notes and recognises the proud from afar off, so here though He has His home in heaven He knows what are the thoughts and feelings amid which a man habitually lives. (Comp. Job 22:12-13.) The Hebrew expression literally means, thou hast intelligence as to my thought from afar, an Aramaic expression.

139:1-6 God has perfect knowledge of us, and all our thoughts and actions are open before him. It is more profitable to meditate on Divine truths, applying them to our own cases, and with hearts lifted to God in prayer, than with a curious or disputing frame of mind. That God knows all things, is omniscient; that he is every where, is omnipresent; are truths acknowledged by all, yet they are seldom rightly believed in by mankind. God takes strict notice of every step we take, every right step and every by step. He knows what rule we walk by, what end we walk toward, what company we walk with. When I am withdrawn from all company, thou knowest what I have in my heart. There is not a vain word, not a good word, but thou knowest from what thought it came, and with what design it was uttered. Wherever we are, we are under the eye and hand of God. We cannot by searching find how God searches us out; nor do we know how we are known. Such thoughts should restrain us from sin.Thou knowest my downsitting ... - In the various circumstances of life, thou knowest me. Thou knowest me in one place as well as in another. I cannot so change my position that thou will not see me, and that thou wilt not be perfectly acquainted with all that I say, and all that I do. In every posture, in every movement, in every occupation, thou hast a full knowledge of me. I cannot go out of thy sight; I cannot put myself into such a position that thou wilt not see me.

Thou understandest my thought - Hebrew, "As to my thought." That is, Thou seest what my plans are; what I design to do; "what I am thinking about." A most solemn reflection! How unwilling would bad people be - would even good people be - to have those round about them know always "what they are thinking about."

Afar off - Not when the "thought" is far off; but "thou," being far off, seest us as clearly as if thou wert near. I cannot go to such a distance from thee that thou wilt not see perfectly all that I am thinking about.


Ps 139:1-24. After presenting the sublime doctrines of God's omnipresence and omniscience, the Psalmist appeals to Him, avowing his innocence, his abhorrence of the wicked, and his ready submission to the closest scrutiny. Admonition to the wicked and comfort to the pious are alike implied inferences from these doctrines.

Known me, i.e. known me exactly, as men do those things which they diligently search out.

My downsitting and mine uprising; all my postures and motions, my actions and my cessations from action.

My thought; all my secret counsels and designs.

Afar off; before they are perfectly formed in my mind. Thou knowest what my thoughts will be in such and such circumstances long before I know it, yea, from all eternity. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising,.... Here the psalmist proceeds to observe the particular circumstances and actions of his life, which were known to God; as his "downsitting", either to take rest, as weary persons do. Schultens (a) explains it of the quiet rest in sleep; this the Lord knew when he betook himself to it, and to whose care he committed himself and family; under whose protection he laid himself down, and on whom he depended for safety, Psalm 4:8. Or, since lying down to sleep is afterwards mentioned, this may respect sitting down at table to eat and drink; when the Lord knows whether men use the creatures aright, or abuse them; whether they receive their food with thankfulness, and eat and drink to the glory of God: or else this downsitting was to read the word of God, and meditate upon it; so the Targum paraphrases it,

"my sitting down to study the law.''

When men do this, the Lord knows whether in reading they understand what they read, or read attentively and with affection; whether it is to their comfort and edification, and for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness; whether their meditation on it is sweet, and is attended with profit and pleasure. "Uprising" may respect either rising from bed, when the Lord knows whether the heart is still with him, Psalm 139:18; what sense is had of the divine protection and sustentation, and what thankfulness there is for the mercies of the night past; and whether the voice of prayer and praise is directed to him in the morning, as it should be, Psalm 3:5; or else rising from the table, when the Lord knows whether a man's table has been his snare, and with what thankfulness he rises from it for the favours he has received. The Targum interprets this of rising up to go to war; which David did, in the name and strength, and by the direction, of the Lord;

thou understandest my thought afar off; God knows not only his own thoughts, but the thoughts of men, which none but themselves know; by this Christ appears to be truly God, the omniscient God, being a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart, Matthew 9:3, Hebrews 4:12. God knows what thoughts his people have of him, and of his lovingkindness in Christ; what thoughts they have of Christ himself, his person, offices, and grace; what thoughts they have of themselves, their state, and condition: he knows all their vain thoughts, and complains of them, and which also they hate; and all their good thoughts, for they come from him. And he knows them "afar off", or "of old" (b), even before they are; so Aben Ezra interprets it, a long time past, and compares it with Jeremiah 31:3; where the same word is rendered "of old": God knows the thoughts of his people, as well as his own, from all eternity; see Isaiah 25:1; as he knew what they would say and do, so what they would think; he knows thoughts that are past long ago, and forgotten by men, or were unobserved when thought; how else should he bring them into judgment? or though he is afar off in the highest heavens, yet he sees into the hearts of men, and is privy to all their thoughts.

(a) Animadv. Philol. p. 181. (b) "q. d. dum illa longe abest", Piscator; "longe ante quam incidat in animum meum", Gejerus, & Campensis in Ibid.

Thou knowest my {a} downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off.

(a) He confesses that neither our actions, thoughts or any part of our life can be hid from God, though he seems to be far off.

2. Thou knowest] Thou is emphatic. It is God alone Who possesses this absolute knowledge of His creatures.

my downsitting and mine uprising] My whole life, at rest or in activity. Cp. Psalm 127:2; Deuteronomy 6:7.

thought] The word used here and in Psalm 139:17 is an Aramaism, found here only in the O.T.

afar off] Cp. Psalm 138:6; Jeremiah 23:23. The P.B.V. long before is also a possible rendering. Neither space nor time exist for God.Verse 2. - Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising. All that I do from one end of the day to the other. Thou understandest my thought afar off; i.e. while it is just forming - long before it is a fully developed thought. There are two things for which the poet gives thanks to God: He has answered him in the days of trouble connected with his persecution by Saul and in all distresses; and by raising him to the throne, and granting him victory upon victory, and promising him the everlasting possession of the throne, He has filled him with a proud courage, so that lofty feeling has taken up its abode in his soul, which was formerly fearful about help. Just as רהב signifies impetuosity, vehemence, and then also a monster, so הרהיב signifies both to break in upon one violently and overpowerlingly (Sol 6:5; cf. Syriac arheb, Arabic arhaba, to terrify), and to make any one courageous, bold, and confident of victory. בּנפשׁי עז forms a corollary to the verb that is marked by Mugrash or Dech: so that in my soul there was עז, i.e., power, viz., a consciousness of power (cf. Judges 5:21). The thanksgiving, which he, the king of the promise, offers to God on account of this, will be transmitted to all the kings of the earth when they shall hear (שׁמעוּ in the sense of a fut. exactum) the words of His mouth, i.e., the divine אמרה, and they shall sing of (שׁיר with בּ, like דּבּר בּ in Psalm 87:3, שׂיח בּ in Psalm 105:2 and frequently, הלּל בּ in Psalm 44:9, הזכּיר בּ in Psalm 20:8, and the like) the ways of the God of the history of salvation, they shall sing that great is the glory of Jahve. Psalm 138:6 tells us by what means He has so super-gloriously manifested Himself in His leadings of David. He has shown Himself to be the Exalted One who is His all-embracing rule does not leave the lowly (cf. David's confessions in Psalm 131:1; 2 Samuel 6:22) unnoticed (Psalm 113:6), but on the contrary makes him the especial object of His regard; and on the other hand even from afar (cf. Psalm 139:2) He sees through (ידע as in Psalm 94:11; Jeremiah 29:23) the lofty one who thinks himself unobserved and conducts himself as if he were answerable to no higher being (Psalm 10:4). In correct texts וגבה has Mugrash, and ממרחק Mercha. The form of the fut. Kal יידע is formed after the analogy of the Hiphil forms ייליל in Isaiah 16:7, and frequently, and ייטיב in Job 24:21; probably the word is intended to be all the more emphatic, inasmuch as the first radical, which disappears in ידע, is thus in a certain measure restored.

(Note: The Greek imperfects with the double (syllabic and temporal) augment, as ἑώρων, ἀνέῳγον, are similar. Chajuǵ also regards the first Jod in these forms as the preformative and the second as the radical, whereas Abulwald, Gramm. ch. xxvi. p. 170, explains the first as a prosthesis and the second as the preformative. According to the view of others, e.g., of Kimchi, יידע might be fut. Hiph. weakened from יהדע (יהידיע), which, apart from the unsuitable meaning, assumes a change of consonants that is all the more inadmissible as ידע itself springs from ודע. Nor is it to be supposed that יידע is modified from יידע (Luzzatto, 197), because it is nowhere written יידע.)

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