The Attributes Of God: His Omniscience [Part 1]
This attribute of God is at one and the same time both a comfort to us and an immense challenge. The writers employed by the Holy Spirit in Scripture see it in both these ways.
God’s omniscience simply means that there is nothing outside of divine knowledge. Nothing has happened, is happening or will happen in the entire universe without God always having known about it. And, of course, it goes beyond actions.
The Psalmist was acutely aware of this in Psalm 139. I once heard Mr. John Glenville divide the Psalm up like this.
V.v. 1-6: He knows us externally
‘O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me: Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether. Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.’
V.v. 7-12: He knows us nocturnally
‘Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.’
V.v. 13-18: He knows us internally
‘For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.’
V.v. 19-24 He knows us eternally
‘Surely thou wilt slay the wicked, O God: depart from me therefore, ye bloody men. For they speak against thee wickedly, and thine enemies take thy name in vain. Do not I hate them, O LORD, that hate thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee? I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies. 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.’
What a comfort it is that that our God knows all about us! ‘For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust’ Psalm 103:14. His tender care is directed towards us just when and where we need it. But what a challenge! ‘Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance’, Psalm 90:8. To live before the all-knowing God, with proper disposition of heart towards Him, is true godliness.
Ian Jackson is commended with his wife from the assembly that meets in Marine Hall, Eastbourne (UK), to the preaching and teaching of the word of God across the world.