Psalm 139:11-12 - The Verses Project

Bible Psalm 139:11-12

Posted May 26, 2014

If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.

This is our fifth week memorizing Psalm 139. In verse 7, the psalmist asked, “Where can I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence?” Over the next 5 verses, he gives us 4 hypothetical scenarios: if he ascends to heaven, God is there. If he makes his bed in Sheol (death), God is there. If he takes the wings of the morning and dwells in the uttermost parts of the sea, God is there (leading & holding him). This week is the fourth and final scenario. John Calvin sets it up nicely, “So having acknowledged that it was vain to dream of flight, he bethinks himself of another remedy, and says, If no speed of mine can bear me out of the range of God’s vision, yet, on the supposition of light being removed, the darkness might cover me, that I might have a short breath of respite. But this also he declares to be hopeless, as God sees equally well in the deepest darkness as at noon-day.”

In this scenario, the psalmist seeks to use darkness to keep himself from God’s light. In some ways, this hiding has been instinctual for all of us since Adam & Eve’s game of hide-and-go-seek in the garden with God. We rationalize that as long as we are hidden, or our sins are hidden, they do not affect others. We are “covered” and safe. While hiddenness from others is possible, as well as hiding sin that we do not want others to see (be it from shame or a desire to continue in the sin), God is never duped. His vision of us and our activities is not impaired by anything we could do. “Hidden sin" is a contradiction of terms before an omniscient omnipresent God. The psalmist is confronted with the truth that our darkest midnight is but the brightest noonday for God. His knowledge of us, as well as the places and seasons we find ourselves in are known perfectly by God. The things we’ve done and the things done to us, He knows intimately. He knows who did what and why. As we have continued to say through Psalm 139: this truth brings both great terror and comfort. Terror to those who don’t want the light to expose them. Comfort to those need to know that the darkness does not get the last word.

In response to this truth, Spurgeon prayed, “Dense darkness may oppress me, but it cannot shut me out from thee, or thee from me. Thou seest as well without the light as with it, since thou art not dependent upon light which is thine own creature, for the full exercise of thy perceptions. Moreover, thou art present with me whatever may be the hour; and being present you discover all that I think, or feel, or do. Men are still so foolish as to prefer night and darkness for their evil deeds; but so impossible is it for anything to be hidden from the Lord that they might just as well transgress in broad daylight.”

Darkness and light in this agree;
Great God, they're both alike to thee.
Thine hand can pierce thy foes as soon
Through midnight shades as blazing noon.


Song by Gatlin Elms.
Artwork by Neil Sandoz.