God knows us intimately is the message of Psalm 139. The world “know/dah” appears seven times. But in addition to security, the psalm conveys human humility: a message evoked by obscure terms and phrases, and statements of limitation. God’s ever-presence is presented in lines that were included in the traditional “traveler’s prayer”: “If I ascend to heaven, there You are; if I descend to She’ol, You are present; If I raise wing with dawn and dwell in the furthest part of the sea, also there You have would lead me and You would grasp me with Your right hand.” We are left to ponder: Did the Psalmist want to flee? If so, was it from other people or God or both? And why? And knowing that God is always present and knowing, how does that impact on how the Psalmist views his life and power?
Rabbi Ibn Ezra (Spain , 11-12th centuries) said of this Psalm that there is none comparable to it for exploring the ways of God and the soul. We dedicate this Psalm’s study to Rabbi K’vod Wieder, who will share an accompanying favorite chant.