A Species of Wonder

Psalm 139:13-16

David’s song about the Lord’s attributes includes a celebration of human life, proof of God’s creative genius.

I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well. (139:14)

Isn’t this true? We are a species of wonder. No one would argue that the human body is a phenomenal combination of strength, beauty, coordination, grace, and balance on the outside. But if you think the outside is remarkable, just glance inside. Talk about something wonderful! Verse 15 describes our origin.

My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth.

We sometimes refer to our bodily shape as our “frame.” The original Hebrew term here means “bony substance” or “skeleton.” Our skeletons were not hidden from God when they were made in secret . . . in the depths of the earth.” This is an idiomatic expression for a protected place, a concealed and safe place—as one may hide his treasure by burying it. No doubt this “secret place” is a reference to the womb. The Hebrew word translated “skillfully wrought” literally means “variegated,” like a multicolored piece of cloth. Moses used the same Hebrew term in Exodus when he referred to the making of the curtains in the ancient tabernacle. The idea is similar to an embroidered piece of tapestry or a work of fine needlepoint. The picture must include the concept of our veins and arteries, “embroidered” like variegated threads within the body. God is that involved in the making of our bodies. He is like a careful, skillful artist who takes great pain with each color and stroke. Verse 15 paraphrased: “My skeleton and bones were not hidden from You when I was made in that concealed place of protection, when my veins and arteries were skillfully embroidered together in variegated colors like fine needlepoint.”

The truth of all this was brought home to me several years ago in a conversation I had with a young man doing his medical internship. He was studying to be a surgeon. He commented on the beautiful “color scheme” God has placed within our inner bodies. He stated that there are definite colors in our various organs, that the veins and arteries almost make the inner network appear “variegated” in color. He smiled when I informed him that David used those exact words in his song centuries ago.

David then caps off this series of thoughts with a statement about God’s sovereignty.

Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them. (139:16)

God’s eyes were fixed upon my “unformed substance,” says David. The Hebrew verb from which this descriptive statement is taken means “to fold together, to wrap up.” In its noun form it appears only here in the Old Testament, and it means “embryo.” In other words, David is saying: “In my very first hours and days of life after conception—when I was still wrapped up in embryonic form—God was watching over me. He was never absent nor unconcerned.”

Looking at life from God’s vantage point, David says that our heavenly Father marks out our days and “ordains” them even before we are born. The original term translated “ordain” is often used in the Old Testament in connection with a potter who forms clay on his wheel, shaping and pressing and pulling at it until the lump takes the shape he has in mind. God forms our days so that they are exactly the kind of days we should have to become the kind of person He wants us to be. There is little room left for insecurity once we understand His constant interest in our lives.

There is little room left for insecurity once we understand the Lord’s constant interest in our lives.

Charles R. Swindoll Tweet This

Adapted from Charles R. Swindoll, Living the Psalms: Encouragement for the Daily Grind (Brentwood, Tenn.: Worthy Publishing, a division of Worthy Media, Inc., 2012). Copyright © 2012 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights are reserved. Used by permission.

Posted in Christian Living and tagged .

Accuracy, clarity, and practicality all describe the Bible-teaching ministry of Charles R. Swindoll. Chuck is the chairman of the board at Insight for Living and the chancellor of Dallas Theological Seminary. Chuck also serves as the senior pastor of Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco, Texas, where he is able to do what he loves most—teach the Bible to willing hearts. His focus on practical Bible application has been heard on the Insight for Living radio broadcast since 1979.