Our children have a love / hate relationship with our knowledge. Most of the time, either Jana or I know what our kids are thinking even before they do, or at least before they can articulate it. We know when the day has been good or when it’s been bad; we know when they’re holding something back they don’t want to talk about it. At some level, I know they love that we have this parental knowledge of them, but I also know that it is frustrating to them sometimes (probably more so as they get older).
I get it – both sides of it. What’s more, I think David got it, too. Psalm 139 is a song about the all-knowing, ever-present God. In these 24 verses, you get both sides of David’s feelings about this God who knows and sees all things. You can feel a sense of near exasperation as you read through the lines he penned there:
“You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I stand up; You understand my thoughts from far away; You observe my travels and my rest; You are aware of all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue, You know all about it, LORD” (Psalm 139:1-4).
Can you feel it? David looks around and feels the invasive presence of God:
“Where can I go to escape Your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence? If I go up to heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, You are there” (Psalm 138:7-8).
You. Are. Everywhere. And You know everything. Can’t a guy get some privacy?
And of course, the answer is an absolute no. But through the course of the psalm you see that David has come to realize the great comfort of the unending knowledge and presence of God. He knows us, as He knew David, even better than we know ourselves. There is great, great comfort in that fact, for it means that all the hidden fears, all the secret acts of devotion, all the hurt and pain that we store up in our hearts is not unknown to God.
We see this great knowledge applied to the resurrected Christ in the Book of Revelation. The first three chapters of that book provide a stirring vision of the Lord Jesus Christ. He walks among His churches, His bride, and He addresses them directly. And though their contexts are different, though their struggles are unique, though their situations are particular, there is a common refrain that echoes through Jesus’ communication:
Those two words are incredibly comforting. Jesus knows about the labor and endurance of the church at Ephesus, how they tested the teaching in front of them to make sure it was truly from God. He knows about the financial struggles of the church at Smyrna, how they are about to experience the kind of persecution that might go unnoticed throughout the empire. He knows about the martyr named Antipas at Pergamum though the rest of history has long forgotten his name. He knows about how the works of righteousness of the church of Thyatira have eclipsed those works they did at the beginning of their faith. He knows of the remnant of the passionate faithful at Sardis, how they among their fellowship retain their love for Him. He knows about the limited strength of His people in Philadelphia, how despite their weakness, they have not denied Him.
That is indeed comforting, for Jesus still knows. He knows about your inner battle and your choice to turn off the computer rather than keep clicking. Jesus knows how many diapers you changed yesterday and how you fought to keep your temper under control. Jesus knows how demanding your boss is and the struggle it is to maintain an attitude of respect when you’re being mistreated. Jesus knows your secret worry about the mortgage payment, how you are actively fighting to trust Him during the layoffs at work. Jesus knows. Though no one else does, Jesus knows.
It’s comforting to know that someone notices. Someone understands. Someone sees and someone recognizes. I don’t know about you, but the knowledge of Jesus fills my heart and lifts my soul; it helps me to know that Jesus knows.
But there is one thing that Jesus doesn’t know:
“Now concerning that day and hour no one knows—neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son—except the Father only” (Matthew 24:36).
In this verse, Jesus is of course talking about the day of His return. The day that He doesn’t know when will happen. In some mysterious trinitarian way, the Father knows the time, right down to the millisecond, but the Son does not. But here, too, there is comfort.
Imagine for a moment the heavenly scene. The Son seated in triumph at the right hand of the Father. But He is seated at the ready, knowing there will come a moment when the Father leans down and says, “Now.” And it will be so. there will be no delay when it’s finally time for Jesus to return, for Jesus is ready to go.
That’s comforting. It’s comforting because there are those seasons of life in which we think no one knows. No one understands. No one sees. But Jesus does.
Be comforted in that knowledge of Jesus. That He knows your ins and outs, and that He is the High Priest who is sympathetic. And be comforted that even Jesus trusts in the absolute perfect timing of God. Even in the season of life in which we are tempted to think no one knows, we can still follow Jesus in trusting the God who is always on time.