Psalm 139:16 Meaning of Verse and Simple Commentary

Psalm 139:16
“Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

Explanation and Commentary of Psalm 139:16

Each person has existed in the mind of God eternally. Long before God “fearfully and wonderfully made” you, he knew what you would be like and what you would do. This is a great mystery and does not negate the paradoxical truth that he holds of choices and forked paths before us (Jos 24:15). He tests us. He calls to us and awaits our response.

But it is true that he has ordained our lives. Paul says in Ephesians 2:8, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” The question is: how do we come to know what the works are that “God prepared in advance for us to do”?

The answer is that we must “abide in Christ” (Jn 15:4). The Lord has a will for your life, and he will reveal it when we look to him. When we “delight [ourselves] in the Lord…he will give [us] the desires of our hearts” (Ps 37:4). Those desires will show us his will, what he has ordained for us. To walk in the ordained path that God has designed for us feels like perfect peace, rest, an easy yoke (Mt 11:30).

Breaking Down the Key Parts of Psalm 139:16

#1 “Your eyes saw my unformed body;”
God the Father is a spirit. His eyes are spiritual, but he sees beyond what is and on to what will be. For him to think it is to certainly create it. He looks at a human as a piece of material, a substance full of potential. He shapes and brings life to it, fearfully and wonderfully (Ps 139:14). Artists who can see shape within marble give us a hint of that same creative spark from their Father.

#2 “all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them…”
All of our days are numbered. All of them are seen by God. It is folly and a trick of the evil one for man to fear death (Mt 10:28), particularly those who are Christians. We know that “to die is gain” (Phil 1:21). We will go swiftly into the arms of our Father into the present heaven, from which we will await the trumpet call to return with Christ to meet our re-formed and glorified bodies.

#3 “…came to be.”
What was a reality in the mind of God “came to be” on the day he created you. Jesus, in human form, “came to be” in Mary’s womb when she was overshadowed by the Holy Spirit (Lk 1:35). But he already existed as the Lamb slain since the foundation of the world (Rev 13:8). In short, anything that God ordains will come to be. Jesus has promised to return for his Church. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, it will come to be (1 Cor 15:52).

Expert Overview of Psalms

Biblical Translations of Psalm 139:16

NIV
Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

NLT
You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.

ESV
Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

KJV
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.

NKJV
Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them.

Psalm 139:16 Meaning and Commentary

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