Psalm 139:13-16

Sermon preached on September 27, 2015 by Laurence W. Veinott. © Copyright 2015. All rights reserved. Other sermons can be found at

Unless otherwise noted, quotations are from The Holy Bible: New International Version (NIV). Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.

The other day I heard about a new hashtag that is becoming popular. It's hashtag- #ShoutYourAbortion. It encourages women who had an abortion to go beyond the old hashtag, #ihadanabortion. It indicates that they are more than open about their abortions—that they are proud of their abortions—that they celebrate them. It implies that women who have had abortions shouldn't keep quiet or feel guilty about it but should up front and even boastful about it. It's something to shout about. From what I understand, the hashtag started when Amelia B wrote an article after her abortion. In the article she wrote,

"Plenty of people still believe that on some level—if you are a good woman— abortion is a choice which should [be] accompanied by some level of sadness, shame or regret. But you know what? I have a good heart and having an abortion made me feel happy in a totally unqualified way. Why wouldn't I be happy that I was not forced to become a mother?"

I'm not sure what the title of the article was, but some people are referring to it as the, "My Abortion Made Me Happy" article. As if one's happiness was the ultimate thing that mattered, the most important issue in judging moral issues.

This spring I read about a woman who had her abortion filmed. I don't think it was the actual procedure that was filmed, it was mostly about her, how she felt before and after. She treated it like it was an event to be celebrated. She said that the abortion made her feel good and likened it to giving birth. The article said, (

"Emily Letts, a counselor at a New Jersey abortion clinic, decided to film her own abortion and post it on YouTube as a form of positive inspiration to women who are contemplating having the procedure but worry that they might feel guilty afterward.Letts has no such guilt. She recalls the procedure with fondness. She even describes it as 'birth-like,' and said it made her feel good, just like giving birth would.Letts, whose job involves encouraging women to have abortions, sees her own abortion as an entirely positive experience, and hopes the video will prove to be both instructional and morally persuasive. She feels better about herself every time she watches the video, according to Cosmopolitan.'Still, every time I watch the video, I love it,' she wrote. 'I love how positive it is. I think that there are just no positive abortion stories on video for everyone to see. But mine is.'The disturbing video has been viewed 10,000 times on YouTube. During the three-minute procedure, she repeatedly tells herself how lucky she is. She also hums to herself.After the abortion is over, she says, 'Cool. I feel good.'Letts writes that having an abortion and giving birth produce similarly happy feelings. Despite aborting her child, she kept the sonogram.'I remember breathing and humming through it like I was giving birth,' she wrote. 'I know that sounds weird, but to me, this was as birth-like as it could be. It will always be a special memory for me. I still have my sonogram, and if my apartment were to catch fire, it would be the first thing I'd grab.' "

That is disturbing. Her rational was the same as the previous one. It made her feel good. She recalls it with fondness. It made her happy.

Doesn't everyone know that just because something makes you happy doesn't mean that it's right and good? Doesn't everyone know that your personal happiness is not to be a criteria in matters of critical moral decision making?

Sometimes doing bad things can make you very happy, at least temporarily. I've heard men who committed adultery and left their wives and children to go off and live with younger women and say that they're the happiest they've ever been. Does that make hurting their wives and children all right? Of course not.

I'm sure that some robbers, after they have gotten away with a big haul—are very happy. They're on top of the world—they have lots and lots of money. Yet in lots of robberies, people are hurt, traumatized, and they lose something valuable to them.

I'm even heard that some murderers feel happy after murdering someone. Their consciences are so seared that not only don't they feel bad about taking someone's life—it brings them happiness. They're so perverted that they get pleasure out of killing another human being.

I understand that sin can sometimes give a temporary happiness. But to use the criteria,

"It makes me happy."

as a way to make moral judgments about whether something is good or evil—is nonsense. What a hopelessly narcissistic way to judge things.

How foolish can one get? I mean, if one's happiness is a main criteria for judging something—think of where it will lead. It's the same attitude that King Ahab and Queen Jezebel displayed. You'll remember the story where Ahab wanted to by the vineyard of his neighbor Naboth. But Naboth wouldn't sell it. That made King Ahab sad. He went home,

"sullen and angry…"

He was so upset he couldn't eat. When his wife Jezebel saw him like that and found out the reason—she told him to cheer up, that she would get the vineyard for him. So she had Naboth murdered. And then King Abad took possession of Naboth's vineyard. The king's happiness was their main concern and it lead to disaster for them. If happiness is the supreme thing in judging right from wrong—that will lead to a society that will collapse into evil.

Such criteria for decision-making regarding abortion closes its eyes to the horrible reality that is abortion. It's a denial of what abortion really is. It's the death of a living human being. It's the death of a precious creature that God made, that God gave life to. Listen to David's words here. He said to God, (Psalm 139:13–16)

"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."

There are three points in our text I want to draw your attention to.

The first is that

God fashioned David in the womb.

David's conception, his development in the womb—was a work of God. In verses 13 and 14 he wrote,

"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;"

In verse 15 refers to him being,

"made in the secret place.
When I was woven together
in the depths of the earth,"

C. F. Keil and Delitzsch F. in their commentary on the Old Testament say,

"According to the view of Scripture the mode of Adam's creation is repeated in the formation of every man, Job 33:6, cf. 4. The earth was the mother's womb of Adam, and the mother's womb out of which the child of Adam comes forth is the earth out of which it is taken."

In Job 33:6 Elihu said to Job,

"I am just like you before God;
I too have been taken from clay."

So the idea could very well be that God forming David in his mother's womb had its origins in Adam's formation when he was made from the dust of the ground. In a certain sense we have all come from the earth. Dust to dust, ashes to ashes. In a certain sense God has made us all from the earth. We were in Adam, when he was created.

But whatever that may be, the image is that we can't comprehend the forming of David, of God bringing him into existence. In the depths of the earth, in the secret place—God wove David together. The phrase, 'the depths of the earth' is a metaphor for (Kidner, p. 466)

"the deepest concealment, i.e., the hiddenness of the womb."

God made David, potentially out of the dust of the ground in Adam, then at his conception, then in the womb—these are places that, except for the womb, are even now still secret, hidden from us. God's work in making each human being in the womb is a great mystery. Both verses 13 and 15 both refer to David being 'knitted' or 'woven' together. Verse 13 refers to David being knit together in his mother's womb, and verse 15 to being knitted together in the depths of the earth. Derek Kidner says of this weaving, (Psalms, p. 466)

"suggesting the complex patters and colors of the weaver or embroiderer."

God makes each person in the womb.

Therefore to interfere with this process, to stop this process is a great evil. It is to interfere with God's creative process. It is to work against God.

The second thing we see is that

as far as personhood is concerned, David sees no difference between him in the womb and him out of the womb.

When does a person become a person? Last week I read an article referenced in the Aquila Report that said, (SARAH ZAGORSKI)

"In the book, Aborting Aristotle: Examining Fatal Fallacies in the Abortion, pro-life author Dave Sterrett said he met a Presbyterian minister who believed a baby isn't truly a person until he or she has been loved. He explained, 'A Presbyterian minister in my city once said that he would support his teenage daughter to get an abortion. When another pastor asked him, 'When do you believe a human person begins to exist?' The Presbyterian minister replied, 'I think someone becomes a person when they are loved.''"

Wow. The author then wrote,

"This is a fascinating view on personhood, especially coming from a Christian religious leader who is supposed to give the most weight to what God says about the matter."

It's actually outrageous. They want to go even beyond birth, saying that a baby is not a person. They would give approval to the woman in Canada who gave birth to a baby at home, decided she didn't want it and threw it over her fence. They would see nothing wrong with that.

But consider what David says here. David refers to himself in the womb as a person. In verse 13 he says to God,

"For you created my inmost being;
you knit
me together in my mother's womb."

David does not refer to his unformed body as merely a blob of tissue or anything like that. It is his, or as he writes,

"my unformed body…"

John Goldingay says that the knitting together of David by God, (Psalms 90–150, Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms)

"reminds us of how individual a process it is; each person is individually woven or plaited by God."

In verse 15 David said,

"My frame was not hidden
from you when
I was made
in the secret place.
I was woven together
in the depths of the earth…"

The short trip between his mother's womb and outside her body was not significant in regard to David's personhood. David referred to himself in his mother's womb as a person, the same person he was at the time he wrote those words.

This means that no matter how much people today try to pick a time between when a fetus is not a person and when it is a person, they are going astray. Life begins at conception. Personhood is there—right from the start.

The third thing we should understand from our text is that

David marveled, not at just God physically forming him, but also at God giving Him spiritual life. In the womb, David was fashioned by God to be His servant.

Verse 14 is sandwiched between verses 13 and 15—both of which refer to God forming David, knitting him together—so verse 14 most likely refers to David in the womb as well. It says,

"I praise you because
I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well."

C. F. Keil and Delitzsch F., Commentary on the Old Testament (Accordance electronic ed. 10 vols.; Peabod: Hendrickson Publishers, 1996), n.p.

"I give thanks unto Thee that I have wonderfully come into being under fearful circumstances, i.e., circumstances exciting a shudder, viz., of astonishment…"

But what exactly would give rise to this astonishment? There is certainly enough in our physical conception and birth to give astonishment.

But since we're descendants of Adam, and since we are, as David said in Psalm 51:5,

"Surely I was sinful at birth,
sinful from the time
my mother conceived me."

—it seems that David is not just praising God here for his physical creation—but for the grace God has given him in making him a new creature, a new creation in Christ Jesus. (2 Corinthians 5:17) John Goldingay notes the same words used of God making David as are used in Scripture of Yahweh giving birth to the nation of Israel. He writes, (Psalms 90–150)

"And the way Yhwh has formed them makes them great wonders. The second colon restates the point. In the context, Yhwh's 'acts' will refer to that same process of activity that brought each individual into being; the plural is often used of a deed that we might think of in English as one 'act' (e.g., Gen. 20:9; Exod. 5:4). The terms 'create,' 'set apart,' 'awesome,' 'acts,' and 'extraordinary' are all more familiar in connection with the great deeds whereby Yhwh brought Israel to birth; they are here applied to the birth of an ordinary human being."

So I believe that in verse 14 David is doing much more than praising God for bringing physical life forth. David, lik the New Testament authors, knew that God called him from before he was born. The New Testament is much more clear on this—that God works grace in His people from before the foundation of the earth. In 2 Timothy 1:9 Paul wrote that God,

"who has saved us and
called us to a holy life—
not because of anything
we have done but because
of his own purpose and grace.
This grace was given us in Christ Jesus
before the beginning of time,"

The Bible tells us in a number of places that God's grace works in human beings even in their mother's womb. John the Baptist leapt in his mother's womb when his mother met the pregnant Mary. (Luke 1:41) In Isaiah 49:5 we read about the Servant of the Lord,

"And now the LORD says—
he who formed me
in the womb to be his servant…"

This is a messianic verse referring to Christ. God formed Him in His mother's womb to be His servant. The context there suggests that it also refers to godly teachers. John Calvin brings this out. He writes,

"godly teachers, along with Christ who is their Prince, say that they have been 'formed' by a divine hand;"

Indeed, we see this in Jeremiah 1:4–5. Jeremiah wrote,

"The word of the Lord came to me, saying,
'Before I formed you
in the womb I knew you,
before you were born I set you apart;
I appointed you as a prophet
to the nations.' "

Isaiah 44:24 says the same thing about the faithful children of Jacob. We read,

"This is what the LORD says—
your Redeemer,
who formed you in the womb:
I am the LORD,
who has made all things,"

The Redeemer formed them in the womb and began His work of recreating them there, beginning His new creation, giving them grace, equipping them, making them His servants.

So when David declares,

"I praise you because
I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well."

He is praising God for His grace, not only for His physical being, but most of all for God's work in Christ Jesus, making Him new.

This means that abortion often interferes with God's plans for His servants who are in the womb.

Of course no one can really thwart God's plan. But as God's revealed will—how He works with human beings—the life in a womb is a real human being, perhaps even a servant of God, a member of God's family.

To destroy such a life is contrary to God's Word. God places much value on lives in mother's wombs. Derek Kidner tells us that the emphasis of our text is, (Psalms, p. 466)

"on our pre-natal fashioning by God (13-16a at the least)—a powerful reminder of the value He sets on us, even as embryos…"

Under the Mosaic law, if a pregnant woman was harmed, there were serious consequences. Exodus 21:22–25 says,

"If men who are fighting
hit a pregnant woman and
she gives birth prematurely
but there is no serious injury,
the offender must be fined
whatever the woman's husband demands
and the court allows.
But if there is serious injury,
you are to take life for life,
eye for eye, tooth for tooth,
hand for hand, foot for foot,
burn for burn, wound for wound,
bruise for bruise."

As Christians, we must pray against the great evil of abortion. We must take a stand against it. This does not mean that we should use violence. Romans 12:21 says,

"Do not be overcome by evil,
but overcome evil with good."

But it means that we need to stand up for human life and show people its value. Even in the womb babies are made in God's image. They should be protected, nourished and as they grow, be pointed to Jesus, who can make them new in Him.