If I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there… (Psalm 139:8)
For many Christians, the doctrine of God’s omnipresence is a given, but the implications of this truth is not meditated upon enough. For the psalmist, God’s being everywhere is not an abstract and ethereal concept, but a very concrete and personal truth. “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence (or literally, face)?” (v.7)
The womb is a dark place in more than the literal sense of the word. How many of us remember what happened to us when we were in there?
In counselling parents of children born with severe disabilities, one question that often comes up is, “Where was God, when my child was developing in the womb?” However difficult it might be to believe, the psalmist answers, “He was right there, in the womb, looking upon and forming your baby, just as he was there in Mary’s womb forming the body of our Lord Jesus Christ.” God takes full responsibility for all of our being, inside and out. “For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well” (vv.13–14).
This was the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, as he, the life of the world, gave himself to be buried under the power of death for a time, and made his bed in hell. Returning to the dust from which the first man was made, Christ would himself be “curiously wrought in the depths of the earth” (v.15), in the darkness of the grave, the womb of resurrection life, from which he would emerge on the third day as the first-born from the dead.
And so in Christ, Psalm 139 is our identity. This is how we must begin thinking about ourselves. We are creatures of God. From the first moment of our existence, and in every one of our parts, we are fearfully and wonderfully made. And we have not escaped his eye since. What is true in the womb, is true outside the womb. What is darkness for us, is not dark to God. In our darkest moments and even through the valley of the shadow of death—from the womb of our mothers to the womb of the earth—we are still ever before the face of God, and God is still forming us, conforming us to the death of his Son, preparing us for the day we shall at last emerge into his light.