Search Me, O Lord

By Pastor Teck Uy

Whenever we find ourselves in trouble, we spend time searching our hearts to see what went wrong. It is as if this is all that we need to do in order to know the true cause of our failures. Oftentimes, however, our own searching is not enough. It is because our own hearts can deceive us. They can, in fact, cover up our failures and pretend that all is well. Therefore, God said, “I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve” (Jer. 17:10). The Lord knows the true condition of our hearts and he will deal with us accordingly.

But how will the Lord search our hearts? By the Word! The apostle Paul said, “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart”(Heb. 4:12). As we read the Word, the Lord reveals everything that is in our hearts. Through the Holy Spirit, he convicts us of sin, righteousness and judgment. The apostle Paul hastened to add: “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (Heb. 4:13).

The Lord does not only search our hearts but tests us. He comes to test if our hearts are steadfast enough to trust in him. God uses many things to test us. In particular, he comes to test us through afflictions. In his case, King David acknowledged the testing of his faith and said, “For you, O God, tested us; you refined us like silver. You brought us into prison and laid burdens on our backs” (Psalm 66:10-11). David considered his afflictions as a way by which God would bless him more. He welcomed them and said, “It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees” (Psalm 119:71).

In spite of the fact that King David was called a man after God’s own heart, he continued to plead before God saying, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24). But why would David ask God again to search him, when he just had said earlier: “O Lord, you have searched me and you know me” (Psalm 139:1)? There are three possible reasons why:

That the Lord may expose if there is any pride in his heart. He was conscious not to take pride in any of his achievements. One time, he said, “Not to us, O Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love” (Psalm 115:1). It is easy to fall into pride because our hearts can claim the glory and be proud. But David was wise to know the consequence of pride, for even his son Solomon had said, “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall” (Prov. 16:18). He identified the pursuit of material things as a snare that can cause someone to be proud. He said, “My heart is not proud, O Lord, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me” (Psalm 131:1).

That the Lord may expose any form of fear and anxiety in his heart. It is one thing to say that we fully trust in God and it is another thing to stay strong in the Lord when tested. In his case, David said, “When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?” (Psalm 56:3-4). This was not an empty confession of David. Having been fully tested in his faith, he testified, “I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand” (Psalm 40:1-2).

That the Lord may expose any sin or hindrance that can derail his desire to spend eternity in heaven. He was not self-confident of his own righteousness realizing that he can fail, and God will know. The Psalmist said, “Would not God have discovered it, since he knows the secrets of the heart?” (Psalm 44:21). This is the attitude that the apostle Paul emphasized when he said, “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall!” (1 Cor. 10:12).

While we can ask the Lord to examine our hearts, we can also do a self-examination. The apostle Paul said, “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you–unless, of course, you fail the test?” (2 Cor. 13:5). May the Lord help us as we do this self-examination, and may his unfailing love sustain us that we may keep the faith. Hallelujah!