What does Psalm 139:17 mean?
ESV: How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!
NIV: How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them!
NASB: How precious also are Your thoughts for me, God! How vast is the sum of them!
CSB: God, how precious your thoughts are to me; how vast their sum is!
NLT: How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered!
KJV: How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!
NKJV: How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them!
Verse Commentary:
Understanding that God is all-knowing causes David to reflect on God's intimate understanding. He treasures the fact that God thinks about him. He considers those thoughts highly valuable, weighty, and innumerable. Likewise, David wanted to know and honor God's other thoughts, including His will (Psalm 25:4–5).

It is inconceivable to the human mind that our Creator would think so often and deeply about each of His children, but it is true. We are constantly on His mind. He has plans for us (Proverbs 3:5–6; Ephesians 2:10; Romans 8:28–30), and He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). He created and controls the universe, but He condescends to think about us. We may fall sick or face a job loss or a financial crisis, but God's thoughts are upon us to carry us through the harrowing situation. If we want to learn what God's thoughts are for us, we can read His Word. There we will discover His love for us, what He has promised to do for us, and what He wants us to do for Him.
Verse Context:
Psalm 139:17–24 emphasizes God's justice. Prior sections of this psalm bore witness to God's omniscience (Psalm 139:1–6), His omnipresence (Psalm 139:7–12), and His omnipotence (Psalm 139:13–16). David rejoices in God's thoughts and nearness, but despises the wicked around him. He longs for God to slay them. He sees God's enemies as his own enemies, but is acutely aware of the possibility that sin dwells in him. Therefore, he asks God to search him and lead him in the way everlasting.
Chapter Summary:
In this psalm David marvels at God's amazing characteristics. God knows everything about him: where he goes, all David's thoughts and everything about his conduct. The Lord knows what David will say even before David says it. There is no place David can go that God isn't already present. David marvels at God's creative work in the womb. He is thankful for God's innumerable thoughts for him and for God's presence day and night. Finally, David's thoughts turn to the wicked. He considers them God's enemies and his, and longs for God to slay them. David is disgusted by evil people because they rail against God and take His name in vain. He asks God to search his heart to see if any sin is there, and he asks God to lead him in the way everlasting.
Chapter Context:
This psalm of David lies in the fifth division of Psalms, Psalms 107—150. It discloses information about God's omniscience: He knows everything. It explains His omnipresence: that He is everywhere. It declares His omnipotence: He formed every part of human beings. It also describes His holiness: He judges the wicked and searches the heart. These attributes reflect common themes across both the Old and New Testaments.
Book Summary:
The book of Psalms is composed of individual songs, hymns, or poems, each of which is a ''Psalm'' in and of itself. These works contain a wide variety of themes. Some Psalms focus on praising and worshipping God. Others cry out in anguish over the pain of life. Still other Psalms look forward to the coming of the Messiah. While some Psalms are related, each has its own historical and biblical context.
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