To Be Known, A Study on Psalm 139


The following is a summary of a four week study based on Psalm 139 entitled, “To Be Known.” It was written for my early teenage daughter and a group of her friends, but it can be adapted to other audiences. Themes of Self Identity, Confidence, Purpose, and Promise are explored through the lens of Christian scripture, yet grounded in real life experiences.

Scripture is taken from the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) and The Message (MSG) translations of the Bible. With any study I write, my goal is relevancy yet I am committed to maintaining the integrity of scripture by providing accurate historical context. For that reason, I include the facts as we know them (or don’t know them): who the author is; in what genre scholars have categorized the text; where the text was written; when it was written; and why.

Where references are necessary or helpful, I include footnotes. Note that in the spirit of inclusivity, I take the liberty to amend gendered pronouns when necessary. I also refer to God in gender neutral terms.

For the complete study and leader’s guide, or for a study tailored to your needs, please fill out a contact form and I will be happy to work with you to create something relevant to your group.

Week I: Who Am I?

This week, the group explores the question, “Who Am I?” We discuss the difficulty in figuring out just who we are, especially when we’re young people in transition to adulthood. We read Psalm 139:1-7 and mull over the Psalmist’s idea that even if we’re not sure just who we are or who we’re becoming, God already knows us inside and out. What does it mean to us that we are known by God? How does it make us feel? There’s no right or wrong answer, and no judgement! We’ll get creative by working on a “So Who Do You Think You Are?” project.

Week II: Lonely and Misunderstood.

Last week we learned that figuring out who we are is hard work—and a lifelong process! This week, we share our projects with each other and talk about how it feels when we feel misunderstood by others. We confront feelings of loneliness which are often the result of feeling misunderstood. Even though loneliness makes us feel separated from others by thousands of miles, we can take comfort in knowing that no matter where (or who) we are, God is always there with us. We read and discuss Psalm 139:7-12 from that perspective. We work on a coloring project to be displayed throughout the duration of the study.

Week III: Help, I Think I Lost My Self Confidence!

We begin this week by watching the Dove Self-Esteem Project’s You Tube Video for Girls. We discuss what it means to feel insecure in light of unrealistic standards and misconceptions. We learn in Psalm 139:13-18 that we are wonderfully made. We are God’s handiwork and just right in God’s eyes. No matter our own misgivings or fears, God has a purpose for us. We read about the prophet Jeremiah and Queen Esther, both of whom found their confidence to be the people they were called to be. We work on a skit that showcases our talents and the unique gifts we have to offer.

Week IV: Am I My Own Worst Enemy?

Our study ends with the strange (to us) ending of Psalm 139 in which the Psalmist prays that God will kill her enemies. We ask ourselves the question, “What if we are our own worst enemies?” When Psalm 139:19-24 is read that way, it puts a different spin on the Psalmist’s murderous and vengeful prayer. Suddenly it seems appropriate to ask God to take away that which gets in the way of our being our best selves! We listen to Sara Bareilles’ song Brave, and imagine what it would be like to be brave—assured that we are known and loved by God.