“Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” ~ Psalm 139:23-24
Most of us judge ourselves in our own courts, where we are the judge, the jury, the prosecutor, the defender and the defendant. As our consciences play the role of prosecutor, we mount a sterling defense to each charge that our consciences present.
Typically, we are able to supply ironclad “alibis” and well rationalized “extenuating circumstances” to absolve ourselves in each case. And, when even that fails, as the jury we are greatly sympathetic with the defendant.
Finally, when all is said and done, the judge usually pronounces us, “not too bad” or “pretty good” and certainly better than most people we can think of. Yes, it is true that some of us are much harsher judges of ourselves than that. But the point is that by ourselves, in our own courts, with our own rules, we make the wrong judgments.
Our text, however, reveals a different approach. The Psalmist refuses to have his case tried in his own personal court. He will not seek to render judgment on himself. Rather, he puts himself in God’s court and allows God to be prosecutor, defender, jury and judge.
The Psalmist is unconcerned about how he looks in his own eyes or how he judges himself. The Psalmist realizes that the only one who knows the truth, and will speak the truth, and will judge in truth, is God, and God alone. Indeed, Scripture informs us that:
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.” ~ Jeremiah 17:9-10
Who can know his heart? Who can know the truth of him/herself? Who can judge him/herself aright? No one can. Only God can.
In other words, we can only know ourselves through God! We can’t know ourselves through introspection, we can’t know ourselves through meditation. We can’t know ourselves through our friends’ opinions. Only God knows who we really are; only through Him can we get a glimpse into our own personalities.
It is a simple truth that if one’s scale is faulty then all the weights measured with that scale will be wrong. In our own imperfection, we can never see the truth of ourselves (or others!). The only way to get an accurate, true measurement is to ask God to measure us on His perfect scale. And then ask Him to mercifully cut all the chaff, all the dross, all the offal from our personalities.
Let us seek God and trust His judgments and rely on His perspective, so that we can find the truth. Let us get to know our true selves by knowing God, for He alone KNOWS us.