If you’ve never heard of a SOAP Study, it is a simple framework for studying the Bible. SOAP stands for Scripture, Observation, Application, and Prayer. Today we are going to dive into Psalms 139:13-16.

I, the writer of this blog, chose this passage after hearing it quoted by pastor Judah Smith in “Afraid to Say“, from Justin Bieber’s EP “Freedom.” I wanted to learn more about what the poetry meant so I could wrap my head around it.

Scripture

First, read Psalms 139:13-16 all the way through, taking time to process and digest the whole thing. Try to silence the chatter and avoid making observations just yet.

13 For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
15 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.
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.

Psalms 139:13-16

Observations

This is one beautiful piece of poetry, written from created to Creator. God knows us so thoroughly because he made us.

In verse 13, “created” is the same Hebrew word as in Genesis 14:19, 22 and Proverbs 8:22 (“brought… forth”). Interestingly enough, the Hebrews thought of one’s kidneys as their “innermost being”, the center of a person’s emotions and conscience.

Verse 15 references the “secret place” and “depths of the earth”, which is referring to the womb, called “the secret place” because it normally conceals (2 Sam 12:12), and it shares with “the depths of the earth” associations with darkness, dampness, and separation from the visible realm of life. Moreover, both phrases refer to the place of the dead (Psalm 63; Job 14:13), with which on one level the womb appears to be associated with: Humans come from the dust and they return to the dust (Gen 3:19), and the womb is the “depth”-like place where they are formed.

In verse 16, the psalmist is not saying that we have no choice in how our lives turn out. It is a poetic way of speaking about God’s intentions and best wishes for people. The script for our lives has not been written already, but the span of our lives is sovereignly determined.

Application

God knew us because He formed us. Even with the advances of science, there is still a lot that we cannot begin to comprehend about ourselves. All we can do is look at Him with awe and wonder. If we are fearfully (awesomely) and wonderfully made, then that makes Him an awesome and wonderful Creator.

The writer of this psalm contrasts the greatness of our God with His intentionality and personal activity. Even though He is the God of great and wonderful works, He sees you and loved you before you were even born. He has given great thought and care into who you are. He carefully and skillfully designed you and saw your essence.

What is our response to such a beautiful image of God as our caring Creator? Verse 14 explains that the only thing to do is to praise Him! Part of praise is verbally recognizing God as the doer of these things. Because God is the addressee of this psalm, we can read it as a prayer and tag on a personal touch.

Prayer

Below is a quick prayer that touches on the above discussion of the Psalm. We encourage you to pray through it and then talk to God in your own words.

Father, thank you for creating me. Sometimes, it feels like nobody loves me, but I know that you knew me and loved me before I was even born. Thank you for always being with me, even on my darkest days. Help me to love the parts of myself that I’ve struggled to accept. Help me to treat myself and others as your spectacular work of art.


Learn More

Thank you for joining us on this exploration of Psalm 139:13-16. We hope you are encouraged! If you enjoyed this one, check out our SOAP studies on Matthew 12 and Matthew 13.

Content in this post was adapted from the NIV Study Bible, NIV Biblical Theology Study Bible, Quest Study Bible, and Zondervan Bible Commentary. You can get these tools individually, or gain access to all of them and more in the NIV Bible Study Pack.

Thanks again for SOAPing along with us! Let us know in the comments what stood out to you about these verses!

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