Bible Study Tuesday 24th November

Led by Rev Suzanne Nockels

Bible Study- Psalm 139

Being Known

Think about the company and love of those who know you best. Often such knowledge is a beautiful and comforting thing. Perhaps our partners or parents know us ‘inside out’. I can remember reading and re-reading parts of Psalm 139 when I was pregnant with Isaac. It fascinated me that God could see and know the baby I was yet to meet. He already knew Isaac better than I did.

Remember that the psalms are poetry and song….let’s not get too literal here.

Read Psalm 139:13-18

1-In what way do you consider yourself ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’? What implications might this verse have for the rights of the differently-abled.

2-Do you find it a comfort or a challenge that our days are ordained and written in God’s book?

3-What difference does it make when someone says; ‘they are thinking about you’? What difference does it make that God is thinking about you?

Read Psalm 139: 1-12

These verses seem like a chase…God ‘hemming’ the psalmist in and the psalmist realising that he cannot escape God even if he when down to the depths or into the darkness. If being known by God is so wonderful why do we want to run from it? A colleague reminded me that while this Psalm’s references to “hand” (v 5, 10) can be comforting and serve as a guide, they can also weigh heavily. Being so close to God is as burdensome as it is beautiful.

4-Can you think of times when you didn’t want to be ‘known’? Perhaps a time when you wanted to be someone else or escape yourself?

Read John 1: 43-49

Two different sorts of pre-knowledge seem to be at work here. Nathaniel has his suspicions about Nazarites so Phillip tells him to ‘come and see’ for himself in other words to get to know Jesus for himself. However, Jesus already seems to know something of Nathaniel’s heart. Apparently, there is no deceit in him. Nathaniel will not just go along with something to keep up a pretence. That is a lot to be able to tell about someone from just observing them under a fig tree! The encounter ends with Nathaniel coming to a new understanding and knowledge of who Jesus is ‘Rabbi, you are the Son of God’.

5-Is this interplay between our knowledge of Jesus and Jesus’ knowledge of us familiar? We hope that one day ‘we will know fully even as we are fully known’ (1 Corinthians 13:12)

Read Psalm 139:19-24

6-What do you make of the close identification between the psalmist and God- that an attack on God is an attack on the psalmist? Can we ever know God’s heart that much? Do we perhaps minimise things too much or is this a path that those who incite religious violence go down?

The psalm ends with a deepest desire to be known….even the psalmist’s ‘offensive ways’ might be laid bare because this would lead to his wholeness and healing? Perhaps this is our proper response to religious tension or hatred, to examine ourselves first.

Prayer

Sometimes it is really great that You know me Lord,

Especially when I feel no-one else does,

When I wish others would notice how tired, confused or sad I am.

You just know that a walk might make things better….or a soak in the bath……or a slab of chocolate.

I can rest in Your presence.

Sometimes it is terrifying that You know me Lord,

You know my backstory even though You never hold it against me,

You know when I am faking life,

You know what sets me off in a grump,

You know my ‘offensive ways’

Your presence challenges me.

Help me recognise that You can already see it all

You just want to go over my life, attitudes and sins with me

So, I can know myself and know Your mercy and glory

One day I will know fully even as I am fully known

On that day, such vulnerability will not scare me.

Amen.

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