“I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence! 8 If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there. 9 If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, 10 even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me. 11 I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night— 12 but even in darkness I cannot hide from you. To you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to you.
As we have seen we not only have an omniscience, all knowing God, but an omnipresence God that is everywhere. David describes a God who not only knows us but is also with us, and because God is everywhere David states that we can never escape from Him. Which begs the question why would we ever want to escape God’s presence? This may seem like a foolish thing to want and do but there have been those who have tried. I believe that most of the time our reason for running from God is to try and hide our sin from Him. This was the case with Adam and Eve, where in Genesis 3:8 it says that after they had sinned, “Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.” They believed that they could hide from the presence of their Creator using His creation. That is what sin does to us, it makes us want to escape God’s presence. The holiness of God strikes fear into our sinful hearts making us want to hide from Him. The irony is that the one we try to hide from is the only one who can heal our hurting hearts. As St. Augustine said, “The only way to flee from God is to flee to him.” Only through God can we find relief from the punishment that our sin brings. Only by running to Him can we find forgiveness and freedom from the guilt and servitude of sin. Not only did Adam and Eve try to hide from God but so did Jonah. When God called him to go and confornt the wickedness of Ninevah Jonah rebelled and tried to run and hide from God. Jonah 1: 3 says, “But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish.” He went in the exactly opposite direction believing that he could run from God’s presence. How foolish to think that God wasn’t in Tarshish, but are we any different? How do we respond when God calls us to do a difficult thing or go to a difficult place, do we obey or object? Do we try to run from God and hide from Him? As a young boy I knew God’s call on my life, to proclaim His Word and preach, but like Jonah I refused and ran. But as hard as I ran I never outran God because He is free from the limitations of space, He is holy present everywhere, all at the same time. His presence fills heaven and earth, meaning that He is present everywhere at the same instance. It’s not that He is scattered everywhere with little bits of Him here and there, rather He is fully present in every place. This is also the same truth that the prophet Jeremiah taught in Jeremiah 23:23-24. “’Am I only a God nearby, declares the Lord, and not a God far away? Can anyone hide in secret places so that I cannot see him?’ declares the Lord. ’Do I not fill heaven and earth?’ declares the Lord.” No matter how hard I tried I couldn’t out run God and there came a point where I repentance of my running and returned to God’s call on my life. Now while God is fully present everywhere this does not mean that God is to be identified with His creation. That is a false pagan philosophy called pantheism, which teaches that God and His creation are one and that God is merely an impersonal force, or at best the forces of laws of nature. It’s what is behind the philosophy of Stephen Spielbergs Star Wars, and the famous line “May the Force be with you.” But this idea that the Creator and the creation are one is not based in truth, God does not become the trees, the flowers, the sky, or the rocks. He is not some impersonal force out there; He is both preset and personal. He is separate and distinct from His creation, both transcendent above His creation and yet present in every part of His creation. It is this truth revealed in His Word that leads us into a right relationship with a present and personal God. As we answer the question: Where can I go from your presence? Where can I flee from your Spirit? We discover the answer is nowhere, because God is present everywhere, that is the truth of God’s omnipresence. No matter where you are God is present with you and to help us understand the truth about God’s presence, David follows it up with several specific illustrations of God’s presence. He does this using a series of 3 couplets, the first being:
- The Highest and the Lowest (v. 8)
Verse 8 states: “If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there.” Which at first may seem a little confusing but what David is using here is the highest and lowest extremes to illustrate God’s omnipresence. If we would scale the highest mountain, Mount Everest at 29,029 feet, we would not out climb God. Now let’s face it most of us are never going to climb Everest, but we might find ourselves on a plane flying at 35,000 feet, yet even there God is present. Even if we joined NASA and left our atmosphere and headed out into space God would be there. You see no matter how high you go God is there. On the flip side if we go as low as we can, God is there also. The word grave here is the word Sheol which is used in a number of ways in the Old Testament. Sometimes it can mean hades, sometimes it refers to the grave, while other times it means the heart of the earth. Davis is saying no matter how low you go on this earth, God is there. When it comes to God’s presence in our lives there is a poem that perfectly illustrates this truth:
“He was just a little lad. And on this fine Sunday he was wondering home from Sunday School and doddling along the way. He scuffed his shoes into the grass. And found a caterpillar. He found a fluffy milkweed pod, and blew out all the filler. A bird’s nest in a tree, o’er head so wisely placed on high was just another wonder that caught his watchful eye. A neighbor watched his zigzag course and hailed him from the lawn. Asked where he’d been that day and what was going on. ’Oh, I’ve been to Sunday School.’ He carefully turned a sod and found a snail beneath it. ’I’ve learned a lot about God.’ ’Hmmm, a very fine way,’ the neighbor said, ’for a boy to spend his time. But if you’ll tell me where God is though, I’ll give you a brand new dime.’ Quick as a flash his answer came, nor were his accents faint. ’I’ll give you a dollar mister, if you tell me where God ain’t!’”
No matter where you are today or what you are going through you have a Father who is not far away, He is right there with you. God did not make His creation and then leave us alone, you are loved and wanted. So if you are running from God stop running and return to a relationship. If you feel like God is a million miles away remember He is present even in your problems. So where in your life are you running from Him instead of resting in the relationship?