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What are the depths of the earth in Psalm 139:15?

depths of the earth

In Psalm 139, David praises God’s complete knowledge of and care for him as a person. David is in awe of his omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent Creator, who knows him intimately and comprehensively. In verses 13–15, David recognizes that God has always been at work in his life, even in the moment of his conception:

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
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.

David ties together a few concepts in this passage. First, he recognizes that God carefully, intricately, and wonderfully creates each of us within our mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13–14). Second, by peering back to the creation account, David acknowledges that humans are made from the dust or clay of the earth (verse 15; cf. Genesis 2:7). Therefore, each of us, like Adam, is a one-of-a-kind, handmade creation of God (Ephesians 2:10). Third, although we are made in the secret, unseen place of the womb, we are never hidden from God’s sight (verse 15).

Many Bible scholars suggest that the depths of the earth is a euphemism for the dark and hidden place of the womb. The New Living Translation says, “You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb” (Psalm 139:15).

God is all-seeing and all-knowing. The depths of the earth and the seclusion of the womb are two places that are concealed from human eyes. But they are not hidden from God’s view (Daniel 2:22; Job 34:21; Psalm 33:13–15; Jeremiah 23:24). God sees our every action and knows our every thought (Psalm 44:20–21; Jeremiah 17:10; Ezekiel 11:5; Hebrews 4:12–13). No matter where we have been or where we are yet to go, we will always remain under the watchful gaze of the God who made us (Psalm 100:3).

God is present and at work in every place. Since David was conceived, God has been working in his life, just as He is always working in ours. Even before He formed us in the womb, He knew us and had a plan for our lives (Jeremiah 1:5; Ephesians 1:5; Romans 8:29–30). There is no place we can go that is beyond our Father’s loving reach. Even if the Lord allows us “to suffer much hardship,” we can say, like the psalmist, “You will restore me to life again and lift me up from the depths of the earth” (Psalm 71:20, NLT). The most profound depth, the farthest distance, the darkest pit, and even death itself cannot separate us from God’s loving, caring presence (Romans 8:31–39).

The phrase depths of the earth is also used in Scripture to express the all-powerful nature of our God: “For the Lord is a great God, a great King above all gods. He holds in his hands the depths of the earth and the mightiest mountains. The sea belongs to him, for he made it. His hands formed the dry land, too” (Psalm 95:3–5, NLT). God is an omnipotent and sovereign Creator who is worthy of our praise. Everything belongs to Him and is controlled by Him.

The heights of the mountains and the depths of the earth pose no barriers for our deeply personal God. He did not simply create humanity and withdraw from the scene, leaving us to fend for ourselves. He knows us thoroughly, even the number of hairs on our heads (Matthew 10:30). From beginning to end, He is intimately involved in our lives.

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What are the depths of the earth in Psalm 139:15?
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This page last updated: June 10, 2024