I am a Christian pastor who wishes to bring glory to God in all that I do, and to help people through my writing to know Him better.
Introduction: Humans Are Special Creations of an Omnipresent, Omniscient God
A. E. Richardson once gave an illustration about the image of God in mankind. He wrote this:
Michelangelo lingered before a rough block of marble so long that his companion protested. In reply, Michelangelo said: 'There's an angel in that block and I'm going to liberate him.'
Richardson then goes on to say:
Oh, what abounding love would manifest itself in us towards the most unlovable—the most vile—if only we saw what they might become, and in our enthusiasm for souls we cried out, 'There's the image of Christ—marred, scarred, well-nigh obliterated—in that dear fellow, and I'm going to make that man conscious of it.'
What an interesting and valuable insight on how we should be seeing our fellow men and women that we encounter each day of our lives.
The words "I am fearfully and wonderfully made" are from Psalm 139. This beautiful Psalm is ascribed to King David. It is a hymn that celebrates both God's omnipresence, or His presence everywhere, and His omniscience or complete and total knowledge of all things. However, in doing this it covers another subject. The fact that all human beings are special creations of a wonderful and loving God, who knew us and had plans for us before we were even born.
And by studying this Psalm we can get a greater appreciation for humanity. We can see the greatness that God has placed in each one of us. And this should cause us to thank the Lord for allowing us to exist and somehow be a small part of His plan for this universe.
While, at the same time, it should give us a greater love and concern for our fellow men and women who too are a special creation of the God that we serve. Let us begin the study of this magnificent Psalm by looking at a general outline of it.
I The Outline of the Psalm
From the very beginning of the Psalm, David is acutely aware and deeply in awe that God's all-knowing gaze is upon Him. We see this in verses 1-6.
The king further expands his view and sees that God is present everywhere in the universe. David understands that there is no place the He can go where God is not already present (7-12).
In verses 13-16 the Psalm becomes more intimate again. This time showing that God knows David so intimately because it was the Lord who formed him in the womb. In fact God had a plan for David even before he came to be (16). It is in this section that the grateful King praises this great and mighty God because he is so fearfully and wonderfully made.
David sums up verses 13-16 by once again expressing his awe of the Creator. In verses 17-18 he states:
"How precious to me are your designs O God; how vast the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the sands; when I complete them, still you are with me.".
The one place where there is hostility to God's rule is with the wicked. David expresses his hatred of these people who are in opposition to His Lord and His complete sovereignty of the universe. These are men who plot against the plans of God. David calls them bloodthirsty. But he is confident that the God of the universe is in control over them as well. He asks to be removed from them in verses 19-22.
David's final wishes in this Psalm is that God's all-seeing eye probe him and see if there is any wickedness in him; any ounce of his being that is also in opposition to the rule of God. And he asks that God would rather "lead me in the way everlasting" (23-24).
One translation renders the final sentence: "lead me along an ancient path." This is a poetic way of asking God to lead him in the manner of living like his ancestors that were faithful to God's will. David himself did not want to be counted among those in opposition to the God of his fathers. He wanted rather to be counted among those in complete obedience.
II. God Places a Value on Human Beings
In looking further at this great piece of literature, penned by David, we find that the Psalm is used by many today to show how God's Word sees human life, created in His image. He values us greatly and Psalm 139 is rightfully taken as a proof text by the modern 'Right to Life' movement because it pictures life beginning in the womb.
None of us can say that we are worthless. On the contrary, God took great care in creating each one of us. Our bodies themselves are made of billions of cells and a myriad of interconnected parts, that work together like clockwork If that were all, it would be enough. But it goes beyond this. As we said earlier, this Psalm tells us that God made plans for our lives even before conception. This Psalm explains it this way:
"My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” (Psalm 139:15,16).
In talking about the call of the prophet Jeremiah, we see similar language, indicating God's intentions for him, even before he was conceived. The book of Jeremiah tells us in the first chapter:
"Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations" (1:4,5).
The apostle Paul chimes in with his understanding of how God saw the Christian, even before the foundation of the world. In Ephesians 1:3-6 he states:
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as He has chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love. Having predestined us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He has made us accepted in the beloved."
So, if God places such a high regard on mankind, who are we not to do so. This leads us to the application and response that this Psalm should cause in each believer.
III. The Christian Should Value Human Life as Well
It is obvious that the truth of Psalm 139 has a general application to all human life, from the cradle to the grave. Or, more accurately, from the womb to the tomb. All Christians should care about humanity, not only in the womb, but also for those who are mistreated and undervalued in every society. We should further care for the elderly and those with terminal illnesses. Anywhere there is human life, we see a person that has a purpose, given to them by almighty God. And we should always value what God values.
This, of course, should include our own lives as well. A person who loves God should nurture the life that the Lord has given to them, and use it for Him. Although we shouldn't worship our bodies we must take care of them as the temples of God that they are and use the energy and abilities that He has given us to promote God's glory in this earth in which we live.
This beautiful truth has value for race relations as well. As I discuss this Psalm there are a lot of people who are protesting across America because of the police brutality upon and murder of an African American man by one bad white cop.
Sadly, this protesting has lead to looting and destruction all over the country by mobs of people who claim to be doing it in the name of the victim of the deadly force by this one bad policeman. This has also brought about the deaths of several good people, including cops who were simply attempting to do their jobs and keep the peace.
Of course, we can never condone what this law enforcement officer did. But neither can we condone the violence, destruction and death that has come in the wake of this horrible crime. Both are wrong. Each has harmed God's image. And God will judge both sides accordingly.
The Christian knows that because all men are created in God's image and they are valuable by His decree then they should be treated as valuable.. In Christ there is no racial division. The Division is caused by sin, not skin. And it should not once be named among those who call themselves brothers and sisters in Christ. We are one in Him who made us and died for all men, women and children. Each was designed for the purpose of bringing glory to God by the life the Lord has given to them.
When it comes right down to it, Psalm 139 is much more than a beautiful piece of poetry from thousands of years ago. It is rather a charge to everyone who has a love for God and His Word to see yourself and your fellow man as God sees you. And viewing things differently calls for you and I to treat each person we meet in a manner worthy of the dignity and respect that our Creator has placed upon them.
I love the children's song that tells us:
'Jesus loves the little children; all the children of the world.
Red and yellow, black and white; they are precious in His sight.
Jesus loves the little children of the world!'
In other words, there is no one that you will ever meet who isn't loved by almighty God!
Like David, let us thank the All-present, All-Knowing God of the universe who has seen fit to make us in His image, who loves and cares for us and wants the best for our lives.
I hope that we never forget that we are all 'fearfully and wonderfully made' by Him. Rather let us spend the rest of our lives bringing honor to His name. For there is no higher duty and calling that we can give our life to on this planet than to praise the one that has made it all possible! May the Lord give us the power to live up to His beautiful design for each one of our lives! Amen!!
© 2012 Jeff Shirley
Jeff Shirley (author) from Kentwood, Michigan on September 25, 2012:
Once again lifegate, thank you for continuing to read and comment on my Hubs. It is always appreciated. God bless you!
William Kovacic from Pleasant Gap, PA on September 25, 2012:
I tell my people quite often that we are not worthy, but neither are we worthless. We were worth the price of the precious blood of Christ - priceless. Thanks for your thoughts on this wonderful Psalm. It ought to encourage us all!