Reflection on Psalm 139:1-6

The Mothers by Kathe Kollwitz, 1919.

The Mothers by Kathe Kollwitz, 1919.

Lord, you have examined me.
You know me.
You know when I sit down and when I stand up.
Even from far away, you comprehend my plans.
You study my traveling and resting.
You are thoroughly familiar with all my ways.
There isn’t a word on my tongue, Lord,
that you don’t already know completely.
You surround me—front and back.
You put your hand on me.
That kind of knowledge is too much for me;
it’s so high above me that I can’t fathom it.
Psalm 139:1-6 (CEB)

This Psalm has taken a whole new spin for me recently. During the recent miscarriage my family experienced, the pastor of our church came and read this Psalm to us in the hospital. My wife and I wept as the Psalm weaved the images of God knowing us to the deepest parts of our soul and knowing us even as we are being formed in the womb. We wept for the life of the child we had lost and were quietly encouraged that God knew and cared for our little Zoey as deeply as he knew and cared for us.

As I read it again for this upcoming Sunday, a new image enters my mind that I’ve never considered when reading this Psalm.

It strikes me this time that this is the heart of a mother.

Now, I know it can be tough for many of us to think of God in motherly ways. The Bible most often refers to God in masculine terms, but there are a few times when feminine and even matronly type words and descriptions are used. Honestly, there are no specific motherly or feminine words in this Psalm, but as I read it through again my mind is filled with the image of a mother.

A mother knows a child even before the world does. She knows the movements, the heartbeat and the touch of her child before anybody else.

A mother examines her child every day. Looking deeply into the beauty before her. Looking for signs of sickness or potential distress. Looking for an opportunity to comfort and heal.

A mother watches as her child sits and stands, lives and moves, runs and rests. A mother is often well aware of what her child is going to do, how they are going to act, because they have so closely observed and know their child.

A mother often knows what a child wants even before words are spoken. When words do come, the first word out of a child’s mouth are often, “Mama”.

An appeal to the one who knows the child more thoroughly than any other person.

The embrace of a mother’s womb is so complete, front and back, that her child is surrounded by her love.

The embrace of a mother’s arms is only an extension of her womb. Her hands wrap around her child, expressing the same love, the same care, and the same concern that was given in the womb.

The deep love of a mother is beyond the comprehension of any child.

Until…the day that the child becomes a mother too.

And her love grows deeper and stronger than she ever fathomed possible.

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