“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” (Psalms 139:23-24).
This psalm has been called “the crown of all the psalms” because it so dramatically describes the nature of God. Jehovah is described as an all-knowing, all-powerful, and ever-present deity.
In these verses, David prays for God to search his heart and to lead him in the way of everlasting life. This ought to be our prayer as well. The apostle Paul admonishes: “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves” (2 Cor. 13:5). Self-examination is a valuable exercise, yet it is sometimes misleading. Sometimes our estimation of ourselves is faulty. There are many good people who feel bad about themselves, and many bad people who feel good about themselves. Paul wrote of himself saying, “For I know nothing against myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judges me is the Lord” (1 Cor. 4:4). Thus, our self-examination must be done in light of what God has said in His Word.
Concerning the word of God, consider Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” As we allow the Word of God to penetrate our hearts, to dwell richly within, it has a way of shedding light upon our character (Col. 3:16).
God’s word is able to show us where we need to make change: “And see if there is any wicked way in me…” However, there are those who refuse to submit to the “searching” Word of God. As Jesus said “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.” (John 3:19-20).
The object of this search is not to give God information, but to give us information about ourselves. As the Word searches our heart through daily study and application, we learn to “Abhor what is evil...love the brethren...be fervent in spirit...rejoice in hope...be patient in tribulation...continue to pray...repay no one evil for evil...live peaceably with all men…” (Rom.12:9-18).
If we, like David, will submit to the search we can change our lives and we will be led in the way everlasting.