THE MYSTERY OF A WOMAN! Psalm 139
Many years ago The Spice Girls launched into the pop world with a song called, 'I'll tell you what I want, what I really, really want'. And what they wanted was 'Girl Power'. They wanted an era where women and girls would be a force to be reckoned with. All very well, but we'd had the feminist movement, and the suffragettes in the years before, so what they wanted wasn't really that new. Of course the Spice Girls followed that song with a recording later on called, ‘Who do you think you are? All the people involved in these movements wanted women to be recognised for who they were, that women mattered in the society we lived in. These people were looking for some sort of justification for being a woman, and wanted others to take notice of them. It seems that through the centuries women have been trying to find their identity in the world, hoping that people would understand who they are and what they want from life!
Research would tell us that there are two things that women long for most. 1. to be beautiful, and 2. to be romanced. You may disagree with these statistics, but when we look at the yearnings of a woman's heart, those statistics may not be far wrong. Yet we are Christian women, so surely our longings would be different. Well no, because the fact is that deep down we all want to be beautiful, and we all want to be romanced. As children we probably all wanted to be beautiful like fairytale princesses, as teenagers we wanted to be beautiful to attract the opposite sex, and as adults we want to be beautiful, admired by others and have that feel good factor about ourselves. How about romance, again as children we heard enough fairytales where Prince Charming would come along on horseback, sweep us off our feet, get married and live happily ever after! The result of all this is that we've grown up with this longing to be beautiful and be romanced. As women we long to be desired, to be someone's priority, but it doesn't always work out and the longing for romance continues, but what really is this romance we're looking for? My dictionary defines romance as ," a love affair, an emotional attachment or involvement between two people, a spirit of inclination for adventure, excitement and mystery. It may sound a bit far-fetched, and you could be sitting there saying that you're passed the stage of romance in your life, or that you’re not in a relationship with anyone. Fine, but the fact of the matter is, we want to be loved, whether it is romantically or not.
We women are a special breed, and men would agree we are a mystery to them, and it’s true we are, but sometimes we are a mystery to ourselves and we can’t quite understand our own emotions, and if we can’t understand them, then the men have little chance! The truth of the matter is that women don’t really know who they are, because over the centuries they have had mixed messages on who they should be, and we’ve been left with the emotional feeling of failing to measure up. Sadly, women through the ages have always been looked upon as unimportant in many cultures and religions. The Jewish men pray thanking God that they’re not a woman, and the Hindu’s look to the cow as being more important than a woman. Years of being told a woman’s place is in the home, and that’s fine if it’s where she wants to be, and years of sexual exploitation and abuse.
Therefore it’s not surprising that women don’t know who they are, because they don’t know where they fit in. The feelings of being taken for granted, not being recognised for what they do, and uncertain of what they should be doing, and let’s be honest here, the church hasn’t been much help either. Over the years the women seemed like china dolls, dressed immaculately, hair and makeup perfect, making the teas, arranging the flowers, and expecting the younger women to follow their example. We women long for something more, and we want to be loved for who we are, and not for what we do. As Christian women we need to realise that God wants us for who we are and not for what we do. But first we need to find out who we are, which is why I chose Psalm 139 and hopefully it will enlighten us in our relationship with God, and God’s relationship with us.
This Psalm is a personal account of David’s relationship with God, and perhaps opens up a whole new depth of what a true relationship with God really is. The first 6 verses tell us that God knows everything about us, yet He accepts us as we are, and loves us for who we are. Lord you have searched me and you know me, when I sit, when I stand, you know my thoughts better than I do.
There is nothing that has escaped His attention, God knows everything about us, even the things we’ve still not admitted to Him, and yet He still loves us. He knows what we’re going to say, even before we’ve said it, and yet despite all our silly talk, immature words, and hurtful remarks God still loves us. He knows us completely, even better than we know ourselves, and yet He still loves us. This Psalm is showing us that God, the God we love and follow, loves us for who we are and not for what we do. The Psalm goes on to say “you have hedged me behind and before”, quite a statement. We are surrounded, meaning that we are protected by God on all sides. His presence surrounds us, keeping us safe, giving us strength and sustaining us through every circumstance and situation. It doesn’t matter what we’re going through, God surrounds us with His love and protection, just as though He was coming over to put a blanket round you, and He lays His hand upon you as it says in verse 5. He is there to comfort and guide you through. He is there, because He loves you.
It’s difficult for us to understand this, but David couldn’t comprehend it either as he admits all that knowledge is to wonderful for him, it was so high, he couldn’t get it. For this was a God who is with him on every level, every step he took, every movement he made, to every thought he thought and every word he spoke, that no matter what he did God was there. This is our God, a God who knows us and understands us. We may be a mystery to men, but we’re not a mystery to God, because He knows us through and through, and He loves us completely. God has perfect knowledge and complete understanding of women, and He loves us. In verses 7 – 12 we begin to get some idea of the depth of God’s love for us. Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? We are never left alone, it doesn’t matter where we go, whether heaven or hell God will be there. There is no-where we can hide, we cannot run away from God. Remember Elijah trying to hide at Mount Horeb, and God asked him why he was there, or Jonah running away because he didn’t want to go to Nineveh, God didn’t give up on him either..
The truth is we can run, but we can’t hide. God is present everywhere. There may be many times in our lives that we feel we’ve had enough, or we’re not willing to go with God’s plan. Yes we may think we want to have time out, the pressure’s getting too much, and we try and shut ourselves away, but it’s at those times God’s spirit is at work. God is like the shepherd who leaves the flock to search for the one that’s missing. He’s not like the father of the prodigal who waits until his child returns home, no, God goes with his child. We can never be lost to God, we might think we can, but the truth of the matter is that wherever we go, His spirit is with us. This is the depth of God’s love for us, God loves us so much that He won’t let go. He will pursue us for as long as it takes to bring us back. We may lose our hold on Him, but He won’t lose His hold on us. His love for us means He will never let go, God doesn’t break off relationships, he keeps speaking to us, writing to us, keeps telling us how much we mean to Him, how much He loves us, and He wants us to realise it. He loves us and pursues us. Why would He do that? Because He created us.
In verse 13 it says, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” Each one of us are unique, made to God’s own specification. This verse always reminds me of my Gran. She knitted baby shawls, with all the intricate lace round the sides. It took her a few months to knit each shawl, and each stitch was done lovingly because her work, her creation, was a gift of love to the new baby and it’s parents. The same is true for us, God took great care in how we were created, every intricate part of us was lovingly put together, and perhaps like the Psalmist we can acknowledge that we are fearfully and wonderfully made, and praise God for that.
The fact that God knew us before we were a twinkle in our parents eye is amazing, that he journeyed with us as we grew in our mother’s womb, and even before we were born, He had a purpose and plan for our lives. Now I know that there are many of us who have been told that we were either an accident or a mistake, well, let me tell you in God’s eyes there are no accidents or mistakes. Regardless of what your parents thought, I can assure you that God thought differently. He planned you all along, he gave you the right mix of DNA between Him and your parents, He chose everything about you, your personality, your talents, and carefully put it altogether to make you the unique person you are. You are the only you in the whole wide world, and God lovingly planned you because He has a purpose for you. We are all special and unique, but instead of denying our identity, we should be embracing it, knowing that God chose every little detail about us because He wanted us that way. We may not be too happy with the cosmetics or flaws in our earthly body, but let’s understand that God is very happy with it, because He created it. God created us to be special, and we need to start thinking of ourselves as being the cherry on the top of the cake. We are the pinnacle of God’s creation, the final touch to the creation process, and that says something about our relationship with God. He didn’t create us as an afterthought, but God knew something was missing, and He created woman. God created us to love us.
For some unknown reason we women seem to define ourselves by our relationship status, you know, we tell people we’re single, in a relationship with someone, married, divorced or widowed, and we see close friendships as being important. Have you ever thought about it, why we do that? Because God created us that way so that our longing for be loved and cared for could be met by Him. Think about it, in Jeremiah 31:3 (NIV) 3The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness. God created us for relationship, He draws us to Himself, He wants us to be part of Him, and He yearns for that relationship with us.
When we read this Psalm, what we seem to be reading is a letter of love and adoration between David and his God. There is a degree of intimacy in this Psalm, it’s as if they were only two people in the whole world, and this is precisely the type of relationship God yearns for us to have with Him.
Yes we may all long to be beautiful and be romanced, but those emotions and feelings are within us because God put them there so we would find fulfilment in Him. Yes God’s love is different from a worldly love. I don’t know if any of you ever watched the film love story. One of the classic lines in the script said, “love never means having to say sorry,” and for such a good film it was a shame they got it wrong, because love, a true intimate love will always mean saying we’re sorry. God’s love for you is a sacrificial love, He sacrificed His son for you on the cross, that unconditional love, a love where the word sorry brings forgiveness that set’s us free. I suggested at the beginning of this study that women have a longing to know who they are and hopefully tonight’s study will have shown you that you are woman who is a unique creation, and that your value is not in what you do or how well you do it, but your value is in who you are in Christ. God created you for a relationship, an intimate and personal relationship, so that all your longings and desired could be fulfilled by Him. All He is asking tonight is that you give Him a chance, and let Him take your relationship to another level.
1. Why do you think the statistics show that most women have a deep desire to be beautiful and want to be romanced, and do you think that this goes back to our play-roles in our childhood?
2. We are constantly being encouraged to find our identity in Christ, but do our churches hold women back because of tradition, and is it really that important for us to be recognised for who we are, rather than what we do?
3. Why is it so important for us to know that God had planned us before we were born, and does this knowledge encourage us or put us off?
4. “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence”? There may be times when we feel we just want to run away and hide. We feel we need to get away from people, emotions, or decisions. What are the consequences of running away from our situations? especially when we know that God knows where we’re going and why!
5. It’s obvious from the end of this Psalm that David is going through a difficult time. He asks God to search his heart, test him and show him his imperfections. What lessons can we learn from this, and would these lessons prevent us from wanting to run away?
6. God created us for a relationship, an intimate and personal relationship. We have been fearfully and wonderfully made by the Master Designer, planned and designed for a purpose. We all have a purpose to fulfil in God’s plan of things, but is it necessary for us to know what this purpose is, and how do we go about finding out what it is?