I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well – Psalm 139:14
Meaning of Psalm 139:14
In Psalm 139:14, the psalmist David is worshipping and praising God for His magnificence and creation of human beings. He also praises God for his supreme act of creation, considering the fact that God created him in his mother’s womb. The verse, ‘I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well’ means the king recognizes God’s creation of man as both marvelous and distinct from the rest of the creation.
Interpretations of Psalm 139:14
The verse Psalm 139:14 is one of the most uplifting verses in the Bible as a reminder of self-worth, and Christians read this in times of despair and self-doubt. The following interpretations are the most known among the Biblical teachers.
Interpretation #1 God must be feared by His creation
In this version and phrase, “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made”, might mean that people should praise and fear God for creating humans and remember that He is above all. Hence, the reader can have divided thoughts if they must fear God or love God. The churches mostly teach God to be the synonym of love. However, a larger section of people believes that God will only help them and allow them into heaven if they live in His fear with obedience. This version also implies that due to Eve and Adam’s disobedience in the Garden of Eden, God wants his people to live in his fear so that they don’t commit any more mistakes.
Interpretation #2 As God created living things, science is invalid
Many ancient churches had argued on creation theory as it contradicts the big bang theory and the 7-day creation theory. Hence the conception of human life doesn’t involve science. So, the interpretation of the verse, “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well” is that God is the creator and all His designs are miracle based. So, any scientific discovery of human life is void because science does not acknowledge God’s presence or intervention in creation.
Interpretation #3 Only humans are wonderfully created
In this interpretation of the verse, “for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well” is that King David believes humans are unique and above all living things. Here, the animals, as well as the plant kingdom are inferior to the humans. The idea among the Christian world that man was made to rule over the Earth comes from the book of Genesis from the creation story. Human beings are given greater importance to God and hence are blessed with extra abilities like intelligence, body parts, and every other emotional and physical ability compared to every other species. Human is also developed from a single embryo to having trillions of cells and complex organs along with the ability to choose and communicate. Thus God has pride over creating humans more than other living creatures.
Interpretation #4 The author King David is prideful of his life achievements
In this interpretation of the verse, King David boasts about himself and all that he achieved in his life. He has risen to the rank of a king from a simple shepherd boy. So, it is very much possible that King David is talking about how he became a great ruler of the country and won the victory. He was also called “a man after God’s own heart,” which is probably the biggest compliment in the entire Bible. Hence, “for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works” means King David is grateful to God for choosing Him to do wonderful works, and he also displays pride in this version.
Interpretation #5 God’s creation validates marvels of science
The verse, “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works” seems to back up what science says about the human body. Thus, modern churches teach and prefer accepting scientific inventions and discoveries to acknowledge the power of both God and science. According to the verse, King David adds to the following scientific discoveries about creation. For example, the human body God created in the womb is believed to be unique and complex. For example, the heart beats about 70 times a minute and pumps around 2,000 gallons, i.e., 7500 liters of blood every day. An average body comprises nearly 100 trillion cells. The brain covers 100 billion nerve cells. Human kidneys process about 123 litre of blood daily to purge out waste and water. Science says that the human body is complex and unique, and so does the verse Psalm 139:14. Hence, this validates what science claims.
Historical Background of Psalm 139:14
Psalms is a book of the Old Testament composed of sacred songs or poems meant to be sung. Psalms start the third and last section of the biblical canon in the Hebrew Bible, known as the Writings (Hebrew Ketuvim). Psalm 139 is the 139th Psalm in the Book of Psalms. Most psalms are credited to David and are known for their declaration of God’s omnipresence.
Literary Devices of Psalm 139:14
The entire book of Psalms is a collection of songs and can be found with notable literary devices. The following are a few literary devices used in verse.
Internal Rhyme – As most psalms were written to be sung as a song, most verses are written in poetic style. There is a good use of internal rhyme in this verse. For example, the words thee, fearfully, and wonderfully end with the /e/ sound.
Theme – God’s attributes such as omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence.
Consonance – There is a good use of consonance in Psalms 139:14. For example, the sound of /l/ in ‘for I am fearfully and wonderfully made’.
Extended Metaphor: The entire verse is an extended metaphor for God’s miracle and human conception.
Assonance – There is also a good use of assonance in this verse. For example, the sound of /a/ in ‘marvellous are thy works’.