Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24
Why would David ask the omnipresent and omniscient God to know and test his heart? Why would he ask God to reveal any wicked ways in him?
As we are by nature, we would rather not let the light shine upon our innermost secrets. We would rather not have the true thoughts and intents of our hearts exposed – and especially so since “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9). It is as Jesus said, “Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies” (Matthew 15:19).
As a believer in the LORD God, trusting in His promise to send the Messiah and Savior of the world who would “redeem Israel from all his iniquities” (Psalm 130:8), David desired that the God who searches men’s hearts and tests their minds (Jeremiah 17:10) would search and test his own heart and reveal any iniquity in him that he might repent of his wicked and sinful ways and look to the LORD for mercy in the Son and the atoning sacrifice He would make for the sins of all. And he desired that God would not only forgive him but also give him the help and strength to amend his ways that he might walk in the ways of the LORD.
And what about us? Are we willing to ask God to turn on the light, to search and test our hearts and reveal our true thoughts and desires? As sinful human beings, that can be a frightening thing. But, like David of old, we too trust in the LORD God to be merciful to us and forgive our sins for the sake of Christ Jesus and His innocent sufferings and death upon the cross for the sins of the world.
We seek God’s mercy and forgiveness for our sins. And, as believers in Christ, we seek to be like Christ (Romans 8:29; Philippians 3:8ff.; 1 John 3:2-3). Therefore, we desire that God would search us and reveal to us those areas and aspects of our lives where we are not like Christ that we might repent, receive mercy and then amend our lives to live for Christ Jesus, who died for our sins and rose again (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:15).
David prayed that the Spirit of the LORD God would reveal His sinfulness and lead Him “in the way everlasting.” And we, too, seek that the Spirit of the LORD – given to us in our baptism, who dwells in us and keeps us in the faith – would lead us in the way everlasting by moving us to acknowledge and confess our sins and wickedness and to receive the forgiveness and cleansing offered and given us for the sake of Jesus’ blood shed upon the cross for the sins of the world (cf. 1 John 1:7 – 2:2). We seek God’s pardon and cleansing, and we seek to amend our ways and be more and more like Jesus, our Savior!
Search my heart, O God. Examine my ways, my thoughts and my desires. Reveal to me all wickedness within me and lead me to repent of my sinful ways, trust in You for mercy in Christ Jesus and amend my ways that I might live for You and walk in Your ways. I ask this for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.