Week Thirty-Five: Psalms 102–103; 110; 116–119; 127–128; 135–139; 146–150
Have you ever had a close friend, spouse, or relative who knew you so well that they could discern your thoughts? You might have a certain look on your face and the other person will say: “I know what you are thinking. I can tell by the look on your face.” Sometimes, they may even say your words before you say them because they know you so well.
Imagine how well our Savior and Heavenly Father knows us. They have known us literally forever.
Psalm 139 is a Psalm of David where he contemplated how well the Lord knows him.
“O Lord, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off.”[i]
How does that make you feel, knowing that the Lord knows your thoughts?
David expressed a variety of emotions. Initially, this knowledge caused David to fear. He tried to run away from the Lord. He tried to hide from the Lord in darkness. But he soon realized that he cannot hide himself from the Lord.
“Whither shall I go from thy spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: If I make my bed hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me and thy right hand shall hold me.”[ii]
With David’s realization that he could not hide from the Lord, he also gained the joyous insight that this fact is a marvelous and awesome reality. His transformation from initially wanting to run away from the Lord to embracing his ever-present existence in his life caused David to change. Instead of always thinking of himself and his thoughts, he began to think: “How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! How great is the sum of them!”[iii]
With this change of heart came an understanding that David could not allow wicked thoughts to be in his brain. If David wanted God’s thoughts to become His thoughts, he must first battle against wicked thoughts which try to take over his mind. David described these wicked thoughts as “bloody men”[iv] who “take thy name in vain”[v] and “rise up against”[vi] the Lord. What are the wicked thoughts that we battle against? And it is a battle!
Elder Soares told the story of a righteous woman who had an unexpected bad thought come into her mind. It caught her by surprise, but she reacted by saying “No” to that thought and immediately replacing it with something good. When she exercised her moral agency in righteousness, the negative involuntary thought immediately disappeared.
Elder Soares assured us that as we rely on the Savior our spiritual maturity will grow, changing our heart. He said: “[T]he influence of the Holy Ghost will be more intense and continuous in our life. Then the enemy’s temptations, little by little, will lose their power over us, resulting in a happier and more pure and consecrated life.”[vii]
Elder Boyd K. Packer gave us a very specific way to rid ourselves of those bad thoughts. It is to pick a hymn and memorize it. Elder Packer said: “Seek the guidance of the Spirit in making your selection. Go over the song in your mind carefully… Now use this as the course for your thoughts to follow. Make it your emergency channel.”[viii]
The Prophet Joseph Smith understood this battle of the mind. He was constantly battling against those who doubted his words and revelations. Such outside forces would often make anyone doubt themselves. The Lord gave Joseph Smith the commandment and promised blessing that each of us can be victorious in our mental battles: “…let virtue garnish your thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God;”[ix]
If we win the battle, we do not need to be afraid of the Lord knowing our thoughts. We can say with confidence: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts and see if there be any wicked way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.”[x]
May you find joy in the Lord this week as you make the Lord’s thoughts your thoughts.
[i] Psalm 139:1-2
[ii] Psalms 139:7-10
[iii] Psalms 139:17
[iv] Psalms 139:19
[v] Psalms 139:20
[vi] Psalms 139:21
[vii] Ulisses Soares, “Seek Christ in Every Thought,” October 2020 GC.
[viii] Boyd K. Packer, ”Worthy Music, Worthy Thoughts, April 2008 GC.
[ix] D&C 121:45
[x] Psalms 139:23-24