Word Wednesday

A Prayer When Anxiety Won’t Quiet : A New Understanding of Psalm 139

Psalm 139 Praye

Psalm 139 has been one of my favorite psalms since junior high. I think. I don’t know, maybe not THAT long, but it’s been a friend for most of my journey with Jesus.

I love the intimacy in David’s words to the God he trusts–the God who knows his thoughts, actions, and the words he’s going to say even before he says them.

David proclaims there is nowhere he can go where God is not there. He’s always present and available. Always there to lead the way. He holds his hand.

If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.

David says that the darkness can’t hide him from God. Even the darkness can’t hide him. David may not be able to see God, but God can see him. . . . for darkness is as light to you. 

He proclaims God watched him as a baby in his mother’s womb. God has known him since conception. And God himself made him good because all of HIS creation is good and ordained for good things.

David says that God thinks about him all the time.

We are constantly on HIS mind. You fill HIS thoughts throughout the day.

David closes this journal entry to God petitioning for HIM to kill his enemies. I normally jump over those verses. They disrupt the peaceful, enjoyable flow of David’s word, but these petitions prove something very important.

Despite his wonderful relationship with God, David still has trouble. He fights battles. David cries out for the Lord to kill those who misuse God’s name, and then he prays,

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there be any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

I’ve prayed this prayer many times with David. I can say it by heart. I’ve related to his desire to be free from worries and cleansed from anything that “offends” the God I love. But I’ve never dug into the ancient text until today, and what I found brought new light to these words.

David prays for God to know his heart. This Hebrew word can also mean understand. Somehow it is comforting to know and trust a God who not only knows my heart but understands it too. Don’t we give grace more freely when we “understand” someone’s actions or heart?

David prays, “Test me and know my anxious thoughts.”

How many of us can relate to anxious thoughts–those worries that won’t go away, the anxiety that billows out of control?

But his next prayer is what got me. “See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.”

Are you ready? You may not like it. But the word “offensive” is the Hebrew word otseb which is a variation of etseb which means idol. Otseb means “pain, image, idol.”

 The word “idol” jumped out at me! Can worry be idolatry?

I believe the answer to that my friends is yes.

We all worry. We all have anxious thoughts. So, what do we do?

We ask God to reveal anything that consumes our thoughts, anything we are trying to fix or don’t trust HIM to handle, and we ask HIM to help us know HIS goodness and kindness because I’m convinced that knowing His kindness, trusting His goodness, is the only thing that wipes away worry.

Want to pray with me? Grab my hand.

“Dear God, hand to hand, heart to heart, we come to you giving you our praise. Be our glory. We want to walk with you as David did, experience your presence, and trust you beyond our worries. Change the way we think. Transform those worries to trust. May we know your goodness and kindness, your grace. Lead us to the everlasting way which is the path of trusting you. No idols. No worries. Trust. Amen.”

What is your favorite part of Psalm 139?

Finding Purpose in Trust



  1. Helen

    Thank God for Psalm and People like yourself that is anointed from God to share and understand His Words

    1. Thank you Helen! What kind words. Blessings on you. The Lord is so good to us.

  2. Awesome insight! This too is one of my favorite prayers, but seeing anxiety as an idol really opens up how God wants us to view our anxiety and how he anxiously awaits our prayer so He can remove it from us and replace it with His Grace & Peace.

    1. Thanks Sandy! Always love to hear your thoughts.

  3. Piper

    Oh Andy!
    This devotion was for me today!y husband will tell you I worry when I don’t have anything to worry about! Lately my anxiety is running crazy. This spoke to my heart… I love that God knows and He understands!
    Thanks so much!

    1. Praise God! Hold onto this Psalm, Piper. Don’t let the enemy steal your peace! So glad you stopped by today and thanks for letting me know it helped you.

  4. Anna Gregory

    It seems that so many times I log on and it seems your words are written just for me. I have been working and reworking my problems in my mind. I try to find a solution, but I can’t. God knows what I need. I need not worry and truthfully I usually am almost frantic, but this time I am not. I’ve laid this in God’s hands, knowing he knows me by name and that he cares. No matter where I go, he is faithful, he is with me and I need not worry. Thanks be to God.

    1. Yay God! Thanks for sharing Anna! So glad you stopped by. Keep on trusting!

  5. Precious and inspiring! We studied this Psalm yesterday morning, and it’s one of my favorites, too.

    1. Thanks Tina! So glad you stopped by and left a footprint. :)

  6. Mable Mason

    Hi Andy,
    I think sometimes I do forget that he is always there. That’s a great scripture an I love that part( that no matter what) he’s there.
    Thanks for the prayer and may our God continue to bless you

    1. Thanks Mabel! Yes, I love psalm 139 for that promise. He’s always with us. Much love!

  7. Patricia Keough-Wilson

    I love this Psalm. I read it repeatedly as I sat at my father’s hospital bedside, inserting my dad’s name as he slowly went home to his God. I did the same with my mom. Today it comforts me as my son Joel sits grieving in divorce court. God knows both of us.

    1. You’re such a kindred spirit, Patricia. I will be praying for you and Joel. God is good and He is faithful. . . trustworthy.

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