Design And Determinism
A daily devotion for October 10th
1 O LORD, you have searched me
and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue
you know it completely, O LORD.
5 You hem me in—behind and before;
you have laid your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,"
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
16 your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand.
When I awake,
I am still with you.
Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. (Psalm 139:16)
unformed body literally in Hebrew is
my rolled-up substance. It paints a picture of the embryo, all rolled up. People are asking questions today about when life begins. When does an embryo become a human being? The answer of the psalmist is,
Thy eyes beheld me--not an impersonal collection of cells that wasn't me yet--in my rolled-up embryonic state. The marvel of the human body, even at that stage of growth, has convinced him that God is with him and knows him immediately.
Some will remember the Alger Hiss case quite a number of years ago. Alger Hiss was accused of communist conspiracy while he was a functionary of the government. A primary participant in that case was a man named Whittaker Chambers, also a member of the Communist Party and a contact of Alger Hiss. Whittaker Chambers later wrote a book in which he told how he became a Christian. One day when he was sitting with his little two-year-old daughter on his lap, his eye fell on her ear, and it caught his attention. He was struck by the design of that ear. How beautiful, how shell-like it was, and how perfectly designed to catch every sound wave in the air to be translated into sound by the brain. Knowing something of the mechanics of the ear, he began to think about it. He was struck by how impossible it is that anything so intricate, so complex, so beautifully designed could ever occur by chance. That led him to other lines of thought, and eventually he investigated the Christian position and became a Christian. The argument from design is a great argument, and it is what the psalmist uses here.
He is not only impressed by the argument from design but by the evidence of determinism. Evidently he had an experience similar to many of us--there came certain days in his life during which so many unrelated factors suddenly fell together to produce a circumstance or an experience that he could not help but be aware that something was causing it to happen, that it was all being brought about by a mind greater than his own.
We have all had something happen suddenly, something that we did not plan or expect. It was made up of so many varied factors that all of a sudden fit together, dovetailing beautifully, that we became aware that Someone else was planning our days and yet allowing us free will in the experience of them. That was what struck this psalmist. It was the fact that, even before these days occurred, they were written in the book of God--they were planned for him.
Lord, no one knows me like You. You knew me before I was born, and You knew what each day of my life would hold. I praise You and thank You for Your intimate knowledge of me.
Life Application: Have we deeply contemplated the organized design we see in creation? What about the pieces of our lives that seem to assemble as though in a master plan?
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Daily Devotion © 2006 by Ray Stedman Ministries. For permission to use this content, please review www.RayStedman.org/permissions. Subject to permission policy, all rights reserved.