Psalm 139 NIV

THERE IS A REASON FOR THE RATIO!

(c) Copyright 2000 Rev. Bill Versteeg


Some scripture passages call me to worship like few others; one of them is Psalm 139.

139:1 For the director of music. Of David. A psalm.

O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD. You hem me in--behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me," even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.

13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with you.

19 If only you would slay the wicked, O God! Away from me, you bloodthirsty men! They speak of you with evil intent; your adversaries misuse your name. Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD, and abhor those who rise up against you? I have nothing but hatred for them; I count them my enemies.

23 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.

Dear Elders and Pastor Care Workers

We are fearfully and wonderfully made!  What really strikes me as I think about that is how we were made with a purpose, designed by God for community, with the unique God imaging ability for love, and unity. I suggest to you this evening that we were even physically designed for that.  Let me just give you a few illustrations from the senses.

For care givers, it has been said that God has given us two ears and one mouth, and that for a reason:  So that we can focus on our listening rather than our speaking.

"The story is told of Franklin Roosevelt, who often endured long receiving lines at the White House. He complained that no one really paid any attention to what was said.

One day during a reception, he decided to try an experiment. To each person who came down the line and shook his head, he murmured, "I murdered my grandmother this morning." The guests responded with phrases like, "Marvelous! Keep up the good work. We are proud of you. Got Bless you, sir. "

It was not until the end of the line, while greeting the ambassador from Bolivia that his words were actually heard. Not quite knowing what to say, the ambassador leaned over and whispered, "I'm sure she had it coming." 1

How often those around us wish we would shut up and listen. Two ears, one mouth. There is a reason for the ratio. But it seems to me that the illustration goes much further!  It seems to me that in contrast to our voice which is actually extremely limited in its capacity, capable of making sounds only between about 40 and 9000 cycles per second with a dynamic range of up to about 80 decibels, that if you are one exceptional screamer, our hearing has much greater capacity. Contrast the voice box which gives information to others with that which receives information from others. Let me start with the ears...

Though the voice can make some sounds in a limited range of frequencies, our capacity to hear in its detail far exceeds our capacity to make noise.

Whereas the voice may reach about 10 Kilohertz, the ears can hear at least to 16,000 and a very good ear, those who come close to canine in quality can here 20,000 hz. We might ask "Why?"  Why is the ear so much better?  The simple reason  is this:  A lot of information is at these higher frequencies.  These higher frequencies often contain the communication that the voice itself does not generate. For example:  The whisper, we must listen carefully for it! It is made of very high frequencies, tension in a voice, tension that a person might try to conceal, these show up in high frequencies, the rasp of a cold, a sign of lack of health, all these little bits of information are communicated in the high frequencies.  God designed us to be able to hear them even though our voice box is not designed specifically to create them.

But we can go even further!  By having two ears, our brains can measure the slightest difference in timing between when the sound reaches our ears. If you are over to my right, when you speak, the sound reaches my right ear slightly earlier than the ear on the other side of my head. It is estimated that the brain with these two ears can distinguish sound waves  that are as little as 50 microseconds apart, all so that we can distinguish from where a sound is coming, from whom a message is coming, so that we can distinguish the source of a sound in a crowd. This too is necessary so that we can demonstrate our care for each other and build communities where trust and security exist.  Imagine what would happen to community if when we spoke, we had no capacity of distinguishing who voiced the words.  Knowing where sounds come from builds community.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made

And the eyes...

There is something called the electromagnetic spectrum that ranges in known frequencies from a fraction of a cycle per second to 1 times 10 to the 21st cycles per second (1 X 1021 cycles/second).  Our eyes focus on important information, the visible spectrum from 375 to 750 terahertz. That is at most 1/100 millionth of 1% of the total electromagnetic spectrum. If we could see just a little outside of that range, into the Xray part of the spectrum, we could see through people!  I am not sure that would encourage any level of trust!  But we can't. If we could see into the infrared spectrum, we would have the night vision of a predator. Little good that would do our neighbour! Our eyes, however, are so finely tuned that in the small spectrum they see, they can see variations so small that we can notice the smallest degrees in change of color. Don't ask what % of the total spectrum hue differences are. But we can see them. We can recognize thousands of colors and shades, important information to be received because color tells us so much about others. The color around their eyes, how blood shot they are, their general complexion, how those colors blend with wrinkles, cares written on the face, the color of their clothes. All this to receive information, community building information so that in being sensitive we can help others. You might draw this illustration further.  The truth is you were designed to receive such information because God designed us to care for others.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made

Let me talk about one more sense - the sense of feeling or touch, probably one of the most amazing capacities of the human body. Dr. Philip Brand in his book "Fearfully and wonderfully made" writes

"Although scientists disagree on exactly how touch works, they can calibrate how well it works. On the tip of the finger, nerves can tell me if I am touching paper, fabric, wood, plastic or steel. A normal hand can distinguish between a smooth plane of glass and one etched with lines only 1/2500 of an inch deep. A textile feeler can readily recognize burlap by the friction - that's easy; but he can also pick satin over silk blindfolded. By rubbing his hands over s synthetic fabric, he can detect if the nylon blend has increased by 5%.... we can discern 1/1000 of an once of pressure on the tip of a half inch hair." Touch he concludes "provides a more basic kind of listening... love for others starts with this primal contact."

Think of it!  We touch our children, we touch our loved ones, by that touch we communicate to each other love, caring, compassion, mercy, help, tenderness, passion.  The sense of touch divinely equips us for the wonderful calling to be community, in marriages, in families, and through appropriate expressing of care by touching, in the church.

God has uniquely designed each one of us to be care givers. As elders and deacons, we are called to develop this abilities that God has given us.

We have one mouth, with only limited abilities. We have been given two ears, two eyes, and 1000s upon 1000s of sensors in our fingers that able you to touch. All this, I think for the reason, that the world might know that we are his disciples, by our love for one another.

I think there is a reason for the ratio.


1. This illustration is a direct quote taken from "Joke - a - Day Ministries"  I have misplaced the author's name.  When I find it, I will post it.

(NIV) Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright (C) 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.

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