June 25, 2023 . . .“The Bible’s Children: Fearfully and wonderfully made” Psalm 139:14

June 25, 2023 . . .“The Bible’s Children: Fearfully and wonderfully made” Psalm 139:14

June 25, 2023

“The Bible’s Children: Fearfully and wonderfully made”

Psalm 139:14

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus.

Not quite fifty years ago, back in 1977, the BBC, (that’s the “British Broadcasting Corporation,”) first aired a show they called Antiques Roadshow. It was about an auction house from London that visited towns and villages throughout England in search of prized antique treasures.

And ever since then, the show has really taken off, inspiring quite a number of other shows like 20th Century Roadshow, Antiques Roadshow Going Live, and Antiques Roadshow: The Next Generation. There’s even a German version called Kunst und Krempel, a name that means Art and Junk.

But whatever the show, the idea is always the same--to try to find some plain, ordinary, garage sale item that’s really worth thousands or even millions of dollars.

And over the years, experts have found quite a lot of treasures! Take, for example, a painting that a man once picked up for next to nothing in Mexico and, for years, left it hanging on a wall behind a door. Turns out, it was painted by a Mexican artist named Diego Rivera back in 1904 and is worth today right around $2 million!

Or how about this. It’s a letter written by a man--an eyewitness--at Ford’s Theater, when John Wilkes Booth assassinated President Abraham Lincoln. And in that letter he said that, not only did Booth shout, “Thus ever for tyrants,” after he jumped onto the stage, he also said, “I have done it! The South is avenged!”

And one more--a watch, or rather a pocket watch, that was handed down from one generation to the next over in St. Paul, Minnesota. Turns out, it’s a Patek Philippe watch, what one expert said was the finest watch he ever held in his hands. Estimates say it’s worth more than $3 million!

And that’s nothing to say of diamond, jade, and crystal Faberge flowers valued at over a million, or a lock of hair and a ring that once belonged to Charlotte Brontë, or a square, pale green vase bought for ten dollars at a thrift store that just happened to date from the Ming dynasty!

Who would have thought that such plain, ordinary items could be so valuable!

So it is in the words of our text. I’ll read from the book of Psalms, Psalm 139: “O Lord, You have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You discern my thoughts from afar…Where shall I go from Your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, You are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me” (Psalm 139:1-2, 7-10).

Then he said: “For You formed my inward parts; You knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:13-14).

As you probably already know, the book of Psalms is a collection of songs written by at least seven different men. While Asaph wrote twelve psalms, the sons of Korah wrote ten, and Moses and Solomon each wrote one, David wrote at least seventy-three. And while we today call it, “The Book of Psalms,” the Hebrews called it, “Tehillim.” It’s a word that means, “Songs of Praise.”

And in this book, you can find psalms of every kind, like “Psalms of Lament,” that cry out to God, “Psalms of Thanksgiving,” that give thanks to God, “Psalms of Praise,” that give praise to God, and “Psalms of Ascent,” songs pilgrims sang as they made their way up to Jerusalem. Even more, there are “Wisdom Psalms,” “Royal Psalms,” “Victory Psalms,” “Law Psalms” and “Psalms of Zion.”

And what a beautiful book it is, for it’s here that we find words like these--Psalm 8: “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth!” (Psalm 8:1)...Psalm 46: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in times of trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though mountains be moved into the heart of the sea” (Psalm 46:1-2)...and Psalm 23: “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want” (Psalm 23:1).

Out of all the Bible’s sixty-six books, the book of Psalms is really one of the most beautiful of all!

And out of all of David’s psalms, Psalm 139 is one of the most powerful of all! As one commentator wrote: “It’s not just that God knows everything, He knows me. It’s not just that God is everywhere, He is everywhere with me. And it’s not just that God created everything, He created me.”

And as another author wrote: “God is extremely personal with each of us. Simply consider this fact: the God who spoke the Word and it was; the One who flung stars into space and divided the rivers, who rules with justice and fairness even as kingdoms rise and fall, who knows the number of hairs on our heads, and who sees when a sparrow falls, is intensely personal with each of us. From the heights to the depths our God is with us.”

And it all begins with this, this time from a more contemporary version: “You have looked deep inside my heart, Lord, and You know all there is to know about me. You know when I am resting and when I am working, and even from heaven You know all my thoughts. You know everything I do and everywhere I go. Before I even speak a word, You know what I will say, and with Your powerful arm You protect me from every side. And I can’t understand any of this! Such wonderful knowledge is far above me” (Psalm 139:1-6).

Then in the words of verse 13, David said this: “For You formed my inward parts; You knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:13-14).

So how does life begin? Life begins just as soon as the egg is fertilized--with a flash of light--at the very moment of conception. Measuring as small as four thousands of an inch, that one single cell is chock full of its very own DNA, with forty-six chromosomes, (twenty-three from mom and twenty-three from dad). And from that incredibly miraculous moment on, everything is set in place--gender, hair, eye color, you name it--it’s a brand new human’s complete genetic code.

And what happens next is nothing short of a miracle, for in the days and weeks that follow, those human cells will divide and multiply, and divide and multiply some more.

In three weeks time, the child has a brain, a heart, and a spinal cord. At three weeks and one day, his heart begins to beat. At four weeks, all four chambers are pumping his own blood and has already beat more than a million times, even though he’s not even a quarter of an inch long!

At four-and-a-half weeks, his brain divides into hemispheres. At five-and-a-half weeks, fingers form on his hand. At seven weeks, his hands move and his neck turns. He even hiccups as he learns how to “breathe” and suck and swallow.

At eight weeks, nearly all of his permanent body parts are there and ready to go. At twelve weeks, he can kick his legs, curl his toes, turn his head, make faces, and even smile, all while weighing hardly even one ounce!

What comes next is simply icing on the cake! At fourteen weeks, he’ll suck his thumb. At sixteen weeks, he can hear the sound of your voice and respond to music. He has fingerprints and fingernails, eyelashes and eyebrows. His heart and blood vessels are fully formed.

At twenty-four weeks, he responds to pressure and pain, heat and cold, and taste and light. At twenty-six weeks, he can cry and has a sense of smell. Do you like black jelly beans? They say that, chances are, your mother ate licorice while you were still in the womb!

So how right David was when he wrote: “You formed my inward parts; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:13-14).

Isn’t it amazing to think that God knits us together!

When you knit, you transform a long, single, strand of yarn into a complex series of slipknots to make a hat, a scarf, or a sweater. But when God knits, He transforms a stream of proteins and nutrients to form a human body!

Think for a moment just how miraculous you are! As you sit there in your pew, your heart is beating somewhere between sixty and hundred beats per minute, sending blood through 60,000 miles(!) of blood vessels, (more than twice the distance around the world!), moving food and oxygen through every part of your body. Your lungs are breathing out and breathing in, giving your blood a constant supply of oxygen and exhaling away your carbon dioxide. Your stomach and intestines are digesting what you ate for breakfast, providing strength and energy for your body. And your bones and muscles are making it possible for you to sit in your pew rather than collapse like a blob onto the floor.

Your ears are sensing sound vibrations in the air and converting them into signals that are sent to your brain, making it possible for you to hear. Your eyes with their one hundred and twenty million rods and six million cones take in light, enabling you to see. Your taste buds remind you of that last cup of coffee you drank before coming into church. Your nose senses the scent of the soap or shampoo you used in the shower this morning. Your touch receptors enable you to feel the soft-cushioned pew beneath you and the hard wood behind you. And your brain, with its one hundred billion neurons, as many as there are stars in the Milky Way, what Isaac Asimov called “the most complex and orderly arrangement of matter in the universe,” is coordinating all these things, all at the same time, without you even ever having to think about it!

As David wrote: “I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made!” (Psalm 139:14).

We didn’t just evolve into what we are. We were created and designed with a purpose. And though every one of us has the same blueprint, none of us has the same fingerprint.

There has never been anyone just like you or me in the past, nor will there ever be anyone like you or me in the future. Each of us is of inestimable value. None of us can be replaced. We are “fearfully and wonderfully made.”

One more thing. It’s a little bit of a stretch, but stay with me. Science tells us that laminins are a family of proteins, part of the scaffolding of membranes that are found in almost every tissue of the human body. They’re kind of like a glue--what holds one cell of our bodies to the next cell. Laminins hold us together. Without them, we would literally fall apart.

And you know, the funny thing about them is that, of all things, they’re in the shape of a cross.

Thousands of years before anyone even knew what a laminin was, Paul wrote these words to the Colossians: “Christ is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation…All things were created by Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:15-17).

And so we give thanks to God.

Remind us, dear Lord, of the beauty and the wonder of our Savior Jesus. When all things seem against us and drive us to despair, grant that we may know that He alone is King and by His blood once shed on the cross, our sins are atoned for and we are redeemed. This we ask in our Savior’s name. Amen