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Thanks for Making Me—Warts and All
By Susan Hines-Brigger

Q U I C K S C A N

Psalm 139:13-14
The Whole Kit and Caboodle
One-on-One with God
Psalm 139 in Context

You formed my inmost being;

you knit me in my mother's womb.

I praise you, so wonderfully yoiu made me;

wonderful are your works!

 

When I was pregnant with my children, I used to spend endless hours wondering whether they would look more like me or my husband or what characteristics of ours I wished they did—or didn’t—inherit. And then after they were born, I would look at them in amazement at the thought that my husband and I created them and I nourished and helped them grow within my own body.

I’ve often wondered if God gets a similar feeling when looking at me. Perhaps that curiosity is what draws me to this psalm. The words in it trigger so many experiences, emotions and questions within me.

In fact, when I was younger, I learned a popular slogan that perfectly sums up this psalm: “God doesn’t make junk.”

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The Whole Kit and Caboodle

While it would be a whole lot easier to simply focus on the two verses of this psalm that I’ve chosen, I can’t ignore the entirety of the passage. And that means that while I do praise God for how “wonderfully” I have been made, both God and I are well aware of my shortcomings.

Each time I read this psalm, I can hear God’s voice—much like I’ve often heard my own father or mother—saying, “I’ve got an eye on you.” It’s both a comforting feeling and a reminder to be vigilant about my actions and the choices I make.

It also reminds me that my potential is endless and that someone’s always got my back. God has given me everything I need to be a loving, caring person. But then it’s up to me to use it.

I became even more aware of that when I became a mom. I remember writing in my daughter’s baby book that what I hope for her as she grows up is that she be kind and loving to others, and to remember that she is capable of doing whatever she puts her mind to.

This psalm reminds me that she’s already well on her way to achieving that, thanks to God. Through my husband and me, God has provided her with all she needs.

Those things with which she struggles, such as the impatience she seems to have inherited from her mother, God is ready to help her overcome. All she has to do is ask. Perhaps her mom will learn along with her.

One of the other things that attracts me to this psalm is how personal it is. Because of that, it’s a perfect fit for me, because my relationship with God has always been a very personal one.

It’s a relationship where one minute I can be angry with God for something bad that has happened and then the next minute I can’t thank God enough for the many blessings in my life. It helps to remind me that, no matter what, God will always be there for me. In fact, many of the psalms are like that.

That one-on-one I have with God connects with the personal nature of this psalm. I’m not one for speaking out in the name of all people as some of the  psalms do, but I do know what’s in my heart. As Psalm 139 reminds me, so does God—better than anyone else.

Next Month: Psalm 73:1-3

 

Psalm 139 has elements of both hymn and lament. It begins with praise for God’s presence and continual care (verses 1-18), but then addresses the writer’s difficulty in dealing with evildoers, those whose external behavior gives evidence that they “hate God” (verses 19-22).

The psalmist seeks to avoid their “faithless oaths” but instead to promote values that reflect God’s covenant with the Hebrew people. Throughout this very personal psalm, the writer (“I”) is speaking directly to God (“you”). The psalmist sees personal union with God as tightly joined to social action on behalf of others.

For my overview of the entire Book of Psalms, read The Book of Psalms: Prayers for Everyday Living. —Michael Guinan, O.F.M.

 

Susan Hines-Brigger is an assistant editor of this magazine and the author of the "Faith-filled Family" column. She and her husband, Mark, are the proud parents of six-year-old Madison and two-year-old Alex.


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