Psalm 139:1-12, 23-24

There is a form of greeting in certain parts of South Africa that I find
deeply moving. People among the Zulu tribes greet one another by
saying, “Sawubona,” which is translated, “I see you.” To which others
respond, “Shiboka,” which means, “I exist for you.” What a beautiful
expression of mutual care, love, and recognition. It symbolizes the
importance of directing one’s attention to another, and it says, “I see
you, I value you, I am here for you and with you.” The response just
as meaningfully acknowledges the connectedness of the other person
to themselves. This greeting recognizes how important we are to one
another. The Zulu people believe that we exist only if another sees
and accepts us; that we exist in community, in connection to one

To be seen is to be vulnerable. To be known is to be honest
with ourselves and with others about who we are and what we hide
within. This is true intimacy, true connection. Isn’t that what we
all desire? To be seen, known, and loved with direct attention and
overwhelming care for who we authentically are. This is the type of
relationship God desires to have with us and desires for us to have
with one another.

Today’s psalm recognizes the reality of being seen and known in this intimate way by our Maker, saying, Search me, O God, and know my heart (v. 23). It’s as if the psalmist hears God say, “I see you,” and earnestly replies, “I exist for you.” The sacred truth is that God does see us. Wherever we go, whatever we do, we are most fully seen and best known by the One who has loved us first and loves us most.


In what ways do you want to be seen and known? Make a list of people who you feel know you best and reflect on those names. What about them enables them to know you so well?


Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting (vv. 23-24).

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