God’s Omniscience

BY CHARLES HADDON SPURGEON

Thou God seest me (Genesis 16:13).

THERE ARE MORE eyes fixed on man than he realizes: He sees not as he is seen. He thinks himself obscure and unobserved, but let him remember that a cloud of witnesses holds him in full view. Wherever he is, at every instant, there are beings whose attention is riveted on his doings, and whose gaze is constantly fixed on his actions.

Within this hall, there are myriads of spirits unseen to us–spirits good and spirits evil; upon us tonight the eyes of angels rest. Attentively those perfect spirits regard our order, they hear our songs, they observe our prayers. It may be that they fly to heaven to convey to their companions news of any sinners who are born of God, for there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.

Millions of spiritual creatures walk this earth, both when we wake and when we sleep. Midnight is peopled with shadows unseen, and daylight has its spirits too. The prince of the power of the air,
attended by his squadron of evil spirits, often flits through the ether. His evil spirits watch our halting every instant.

Meanwhile, good spirits, battling for the salvation of God’s elect, keep us in all our ways and watch over our feet, lest at any time we dash them against a stone. Hosts of invisible beings watch over every one of us at different periods of our lives.

We must remember, also, that not only do the spirits of angels, elect or fallen, look on us, but “the spirits of the just made perfect” continually observe our conversations. We are taught by the apostle Paul that the noble army of martyrs and the glorious company of confessors are “witnesses” of our race to heaven. He said, “seeing, then, that we are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which cloth so easily beset us.”

From beyond the blue heaven the eyes of the glorified look down on us. There the children of God sit on their starry thrones, observing how well we uphold the banner around which they fought. They behold our valor, or they detect our cowardice. And they are intent to witness our valiant deeds of noble daring, or they observe our ignominious retreat in the day of battle.

Remember, you sons of men, you are not unregarded. You do not pass through this world in unseen obscurity. In darkest shades of night, eyes glare on you through the gloom. And in the brightness of
the day angels are spectators of your labors. From heaven there look down upon you spirits who see everything that finite beings are capable of beholding.

But if we think this thought worth treasuring, there is another which sums it up and drowns it, even as a drop is lost in the ocean. It is the thought, “Thou God seest me.” It is nothing that angels see me, it is nothing that devils watch me, it is nothing that the glorified spirits observe me–compared with the overwhelming truth that God at all times sees me. Let us dwell on that now, and may God the Spirit
make use of it to our spiritual profit!

In the first place, I will notice the general doctrine, that God observes all men. In the second place, I will notice the particular doctrine, “Thou God seest me.” And in the third place I will draw from it some practical and comforting inferences for different persons in different situations.

The General Doctrine: God Sees All Men

This may be easily proved, even from the nature of God. It is hard to imagine a God who could not see His own creatures; it is difficult in the extremes to imagine a divinity who could not behold the actions of the works of His hands.

The word the Greeks applied to God implied that He was a God who could see. They called Him Theos, and they derived that word, if I read rightly, from the root Theisthai, to see, because they regarded God as being the all-seeing one. His eye took in the whole universe at a glance, and His knowledge extended far beyond that of mortals.

God Almighty, from His very essence and nature, must be an omniscient God. Strike out the thought that He sees me, and you extinguish Deity by a single stroke. There would be no God if that God had no eyes, for a blind God is no God at all. We could not conceive Him.

Stupid as idolaters may be, it is very hard to think that even they had fashioned a blind god. Even they have given eyes to their gods, though they do not see. Juggernaut has eyes stained with blood. Also, the gods of the ancient Romans had eyes, and some of them were called far-seeing gods.

Even the heathen can scarcely conceive of a god who had no eyes to see, and certainly we are not so mad as to imagine for a single second that there can be a Deity who lacks the knowledge of everything that is done by man beneath the sun.

I say it is as impossible to conceive of a God who did not observe everything, as it is to conceive of a round square. When we say, “Thou God,” we do, in fact, comprise in the word “God” the idea of a God who sees everything. “Thou God seest me.”

We can be sure that God must see us, for we are taught in the Scriptures that God is everywhere. If God is everywhere, what hinders Him from seeing all that is done in every part of His universe? God is
here: I do not simply live near him, but “in him I live, and move, and have my being” (Acts 17:28). There is not a particle of this mighty space that is not filled with God. Go out into the pure air, and there
is not a particle of it where God is not. In every portion of this earth where I tread and the spot where I move, there is God.

Within thy circling power I stand;
On every side I find thy hand:
Awake, asleep, at home, abroad,
I am surrounded still with God.

Take the wings of the morning and fly beyond the most distant star, but God is there. God is not a being confined to one place, but He is everywhere. He is there, and there, and there: in the deepest mine man ever bored; in the unfathomable caverns of the ocean; in the heights, towering and lofty; in the gulls that are deep, which fathom can never reach. Yes, God is everywhere.

I know from His own words that He is a God who fills immensity; the heavens are not wide enough for Him; He grasps the sun with one hand and the moon with the other. Where the solemnity of silence has
never been broken by the song of an angel, there is God. God is everywhere. Conceive space, and God and space are equal.

Well, then, if God is everywhere, how can I refrain from believing that God sees me wherever I am? He does not look upon me from a distance. If He did, I might screen myself beneath the shades of night. But He is here, close by my side and not by me only–but in me. He is within this heart, where these lungs breath, or where my blood gushes through my veins, or where this pulse is beating, like a muffled
drum, my march to death.

God is here: within this mouth, in this tongue, in these eyes, in each of you God dwells. He is within you, and around you; He is beside you, and behind, and before.

Is not such knowledge too wonderful for you? Is it not high, and you cannot attain unto it? I say, how can you resist the doctrine, which comes upon you like a flash of lightning, that if God is everywhere He must see everything, and that therefore it is truth: “Thou God seest me.”

Lest anyone suppose that God may be in a place, and perhaps slumbering, let me remind him that in every spot to which a person can travel, there is not simply God, but also God’s activity.

Wherever I go, I will find a God who is busy about the affairs of this world. Take me to the pleasant pasture. Why, every little blade of grass there has God’s hand in it, making it grow. And every tiny daisy,
which a child likes to pluck, looks up with its little eye, and says, “God is in me, circulating my sap, and opening my little flower.”

Go where you will through this earth. Where vegetation is scarcely to be found, look up and see those rolling stars; God is active there. It is His hand that wheels along the stars and moves the moon in her nightly course.

But if there be neither stars nor moon, there are those clouds, heavy with darkness. Who steers them across the sea of azure? Does not the breath of God blowing upon them drive them along the heavens? God is everywhere, not as a slumbering God, but as an active God.

I am upon the sea, and there I see God making the everlasting pulse of nature beat in constant ebbs and flows. I am in the pathless desert, but above me screams the vulture; I see God winging the wild bird’s flight. I am shut up in a hideaway, but an insect drops from its leaf, and I see in that insect life God preserves and sustains.

Yes, shut me out from the animate creation and put me on the barren rock where moss itself cannot find a footing and there will I discern my God bearing up the pillars of the universe and sustaining that bare rock as a part of the colossal foundation upon which He has built the world.

Wher’er we turn our gazing eyes,
Thy radiant footsteps shine;
Ten Thousand pleasing wonders rise,
And speak their source divine.

The living tribes of countless forms,
In earth, and sea, and air,
The meanest flies, the smallest worms.
Almighty power declare.

You can see God everywhere. If you do not see Him around you, look within you. Is He not there? Is not your blood now flowing through every portion of your body, to and from your heart? Is God not active
there?

Do you not know that every pulse of your heart needs a volition of Deity as its permit, and yet more, needs an exertion of divine power as its cause?

Do you not know that every breath you breathe needs Deity for its inspiration and expiration, and that you would die if God were to withdraw that power? If we could look within us, we would see mighty
works going on in this mortal fabric–the garment of the soul–which would astonish us and make us see that God is not asleep, but active and busy.

There is a working God everywhere, a God with His eyes open everywhere, a God with His hands at work everywhere. He is a God doing something–not a slumbering God, but a laboring God.

Oh! Does not this conviction flash upon your mind with a brightness against which you cannot shut your eyes: since God is everywhere and everywhere active, it follows as a necessary and unavoidable consequence that He must see us and know all our actions and our deeds.

I have one more proof to offer, which I think is conclusive. When we remember that God can see a thing before it happens we may be sure He sees us. If He beholds an event before it transpires, surely He must
see a thing that is happening now.

Read the ancient prophecies about what God said should be at the end of Babylon and of Nineveh. Just turn to the chapter where you read of Edom’s doom or where you are told that Tyre would be desolate. Then walk through the lands of the East and see Nineveh and Babylon cast to the ground, the cities ruined.

Then answer this question, “Is not God a God of foreknowledge? Can He not see the things that are to come?” Indeed, not a single event will transpire in the next cycle of a thousand years that is not
already past to the infinite mind of God. Not a deed will be transacted tomorrow or the next day or the next, through eternity, if days can be eternal, but God knows it altogether.

If He knows the future, does He not know the present? If His eyes look through the dim haze that veils us from the things of futurity, can He not see that which is standing in the brightness of the present?
If he can see a great distance, can he not see near at hand?

Surely that Divine being who discerns the end from the beginning must know the things that occur now. And it must be true that “Thou God seest us,” even the whole of us, the entire race of man.

The Particular Doctrine: God Sees Me

“Thou God seest me.” There is a disadvantage in having too many hearers, as there is always in speaking to more than one at a time, because persons are apt to think, “He is not speaking to me.”

Jesus Christ preached a very successful sermon once when he had but one hearer. He had the woman sitting on the well, and she could not say that Christ was preaching to her neighbor. He said to her, “Go,
call thy husband, and come hither” (John 4:16). Something He said struck her heart; she could not evade the confession of her guilt.

In regard to our congregations, the old orator might soon see his prayer answered. “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears,” for when the gospel is preached, we lend our ears to everybody.

We are accustomed to hear for our neighbors and not for ourselves. Now, I have no objection to your lending anything else you like, but I have a strong objection to you lending your ears. I would be glad if you kept them at home for a minute or two, for I want to make you hear for yourselves this truth. “Thou God seest me.”

God sees you as much as if there were nobody else in the world for Him to look at. If I have as many people as there are here to look at, of course my attention must be divided. But the infinite mind of
God is able to grasp a million objects at once and yet to focus as much on one as if there were nothing else but that one.

Therefore you, tonight, are looked at by God as much as if throughout space there were not another creature but yourself. Can you conceive that? Suppose the stars were all blotted out in darkness,
suppose the angels were dead; imagine the glorified spirits above are all gone, and you are left alone, the last man, and there is God looking at you. What an idea it would be for you to think of–that there was only you to be looked at! How steadily He could observe you! How well He would discern you! But hear this: God does really look at you this night as much, as entirely, as absolutely without division of sight, as if you were the only being His hands had ever made. Can you grasp that?

God sees you with all His eyes, with the whole of His sight–you–you–You–YOU! are the particular object of His attention at this very moment. God’s eyes are looking down upon you. Remember that!

God sees you entirely. He does not merely note your actions; He does not simply notice what the appearance of your countenance is; He does not merely observe what your posture may be. Remember, God sees
what you are thinking of; He looks within.

In every man’s heart God has a window through which He looks. He does not want you to tell Him what you are thinking about–He can see that. He can read right through you.

Do you not know that God can read what is written on the rocks at the bottom of the ocean, even though ten thousand fathoms of water roll above? And I tell you He can read every word that is in your heart; He knows every thought, every imagination, every conception. He even knows unformed imagination–the thought scarcely shot from the bow, reserved in the quiver of the mind. He sees it all, every particle, every atom of it.

My thoughts, scarce struggling into birth,
Great God! are known to Thee:
Abroad, at home, still I’m enclosed
With Thine immensity.

Behind I glance, and Thou art there:
Before me, shines Thy name;
And ’tis Thy strong almighty hand
Sustains my tender frame.

Can you appropriate that thought? From the crown of your head to the sole of your foot, God is examining you now. His scalpel is in your heart, his lances in your breast. He is searching your heart and trying your reins; He knows you behind and before. “Thou God seest me;” Thou seest me entirely.

God sees you constantly. You are sometimes watched by man, and then your conversation becomes tolerably correct. At other times you seek retirement, and you indulge yourselves in things you would not dare to do before the gaze of your fellow creatures. But wherever you are, God sees you.

You may lay yourselves down by the side of the hidden brook where the willows shelter you, where all is still without a sound God is there looking at you! You may retire to your chamber, and draw the
curtains of your couch, then throw yourself down for repose in midnight’s gloomiest shade God sees you there.

I remember going into a castle sometime ago, down many a winding stair, round and round and round and round, where light never penetrated. At last I came to a narrow space about the length of a man.

“There,” said the keeper, “so-and-so was shut up for so many years. No ray of light ever penetrated his cell. Sometimes they tortured him, but his shrieks never reached through the thickness of these walls, and never ascended that winding staircase. Here he died, and there, sir, he was buried,” pointing to the ground. Though that man had none on earth to see him, God saw him.

Yes, you may shut me up forever, where ear will never hear my prayer, where eye will never see my misery, but one eye will look on me, and one continence will smile on me, if I suffer for righteousness’
sake. If for Christ’s sake I am in prison, one hand will be on me, and one voice will say, “Fear not; I will help thee.”

At all times, in all places, in all your thoughts, in all your acts, in all your privacy, in all your public doings, at every season, this is true, “Thou God seest me.”

God sees you supreme! I can see myself, but not as well as either my friends or foes can. Men can see me better than I see myself, but man cannot see me as God sees me. A man skilled in the human heart
might interpret my deeds and translate their motives, but he could not read my heart as God can read it.

No one can tell another as God can tell us all. We do not know ourselves as God knows us. With all your self knowledge, with all you have been told by others, God knows you more fully than you know
yourself No eye can see you as God sees you.

You may act in daylight, you may not be ashamed of your actions, you may stand up before men and say, “I am a public man, I wish to be observed and noticed.” And you may have all your deeds chronicled, and all men may hear of them, but men will never know you as God knows you.

If you could be chained, as Paul was, with a soldier at your arm; if he were with you night and day sleeping with you, rising with you; if he could hear all your thoughts, he could not know you as God knows you, for God sees your superlatively and supremely.

Let me now apply that to you: “Thou God seest me.” This is true of each of you. Try and think of it for a moment. Even as my eye rests on you, so in a far greater sense God’s eye rests on you. Standing, sitting, wherever you are, this is true, “Thou God seest me.”

It is said that when anyone heard Rowland Hill–whether stuck in a window or farther away at the door-he always had the conviction that Hill was preaching at him. Oh! I wish I could preach like that! If I
could make you feel that I was preaching at you in particular–that I singled you out, and shot every word at you–then I should hope for some effect. Try and think, then, “Thou God seest me.”

Different Inferences for Different Persons for Different Purposes

To the prayerful. Prayerful man, prayerful woman, here is a consolation–God sees you. And if He can see you, surely He can hear you. Why, we can often hear people when we cannot see them. If God is
so near to us, and if His voice is like the thunder, He will be sure to answer us.

Perhaps you cannot say a word when you pray. Never mind. God does not want to hear; He can tell what you mean even by seeing you. “There,” says the Lord, ” is a child of mine in prayer. He says not a
word; but do you see that tear rolling down his cheek? Do you hear that sigh?”

Oh, mighty God! You can see both tear and sigh; you can read desire before desire has clothed itself in words. God can interpret the naked wish. He does not need us to light the candle of our desires with
language; He can see the candle before it is lit.

He knows the desire, when words stagger under the weight of it. He knows the wish when language fails to express it. “Thou God seest me.” Ah, God, when I cannot pray with words, I will throw myself flat on my face, and I will groan my prayer. If I cannot groan it I will sigh it. And if I cannot sigh it I will wish it.

When these eye-strings break, and when death has sealed these lips, I will enter heaven with a prayer that you will not hear but which you will see the prayer of my inmost spirit, that God may be the strength of my life and portion forever.

There is comfort for you, you praying ones, that God sees you. That is enough; if you cannot speak He can see you.

To the anxious. Some here are very full of care and doubts, anxieties and fears.

“Oh, sir!” you say, “if you could come to my poor house, you would understand why I feel anxious. I have had to part with much of my furniture to provide myself with a living. I am brought very low. I do not have a friend in London. I am alone, alone in the wide world.”

Stop, stop, Sir! You are not alone in the world; there is at least one eye seeing you; there is one hand that is ready to relieve you. Don’t give up in despair. If your case is so bad, God can see your care, your troubles, and your anxieties.

For a good man, it is enough to see destitution to relieve it, and for God it is enough to see the distresses of His family at once to supply their wants. If you were lying wounded on the battlefield, and if you could not speak, you still believe your comrades, who are coming by with an ambulance, will pick you up, if they but see you; and that is enough for you.

So, if you are lying on the battlefield of life, God sees you. Let that cheer you! He will relieve you, for He only needs to see the woes of His children at once to relieve them. Go on then; hope yet; in night’s darkest hour, hope for a brighter morrow. God sees you, whatever you are doing.

To the slandered. There are some of us who receive a large share of slander. It is seldom that the slander market is much below par; it usually runs up at a very mighty rate. There are persons who will take
shares to any amount. If men could dispose of railway stock as they can of slander, those who happen to have money here would be rich by tomorrow at 12 o’clock.

There are some who have a superabundance of that matter; they are continually hearing rumors of this, that, and the other. There are fools who do not have brains enough to write sense, nor honesty sufficient to keep them truthful, who, therefore, writes the most infamous libels concerning some of God’s servants.

Well, what does it matter? Suppose you are slandered; here is a comfort: “Thou God seest me.” They say that such-and-such is your motive, but you need not answer them. You can say, “God knows that  matter.”

Suppose you are charged with such-and-such a thing and you are innocent. Your heart is right concerning the deed because you didn’t do it. Well, you have no need to battle for your reputation. You need only point your finger to the sky, and say, “There is a witness there who will right me at last–there is a Judge of all the earth, for whose decision I am content to wait. This answer will be a complete
exoneration of me, and I will come out of the furnace, like gold seven times purified.”

Young men, are you striving to do good, and are others imputing wrong motives to you? Do not be particular about answering them. Just go straight on and your life will be the best refutation of the
charges.

David’s brothers said that in his pride and the naughtiness of his heart he had come to see the battle. “Ah!” thought David, “I will answer you soon enough.” Off he went across the plain to fight Goliath.
He cut off his head and then came back to his brothers with a glorious answer in his conquering hand.

If any man desires to reply to the false assertions of his enemies, let him go and do good; he does not need to say a word–his actions will be his answer. I am the object of detraction, but I can point to hundreds of souls that have been saved on earth by feeble instrumentality.

My reply to all my enemies is this, “You may say what you like, but seeing these lame men are healed, can you say anything against them? You may find fault with the style or manner, but God saves souls,
and we will hold up that fact, like giant Goliath’s head, to show you that although it was nothing but a sling or stone, so much the better, for God has gotten the victory.”

Go straight on and you will live down your slandered. Remember, when you are most distressed, “Thou God seest me.”

To some of you who are ungodly and know not Christ, what shall I say to you but this. How heinous are your sins when they are put in the light of this doctrine! Remember, sinner, whenever you sin, you sin in
the teeth of God. It is bad enough to steal in darkness, but he is a very thief who steals in daylight.

It is vile, it is fearfully vile, to commit a sin that you desire to cover, but to do my sin when man is looking at me shows much hardness of heart. Ah, sinner, remember, you sin with God’s eyes looking on you. How black must be your heart! How awful your sin, for you sin in the very face of justice when God’s eye is fixed on you.

I was looking the other day at a glass beehive, and it was very interesting to observe the motions of the creatures inside. But this world is nothing but a huge glass beehive. God looks down on you, and
He sees all. You go into your little cells in the streets of this huge city. You do to your business, your pleasure, your habits, and your sins.

But remember, wherever you go, you are like the bees under a great glass shade you can never get away from God’s observation. When children disobey before the eyes of their parents, it shows that they
are hardened. If they do it behind their parents’ back, it proves that there is some shame left. But you sin when God is present with you; you sin while God’s eyes are searching you through and through.

Even now you are thinking hard thoughts of God while God is hearing all those silent utterances of your evil hearts. Does not that render your sin extremely heinous? Therefore, I beseech you, think of it, and repent of your wickedness, that your sins may be blotted out through Jesus Christ.

And one more thought. If God sees you, O sinner, how easy it will be to condemn you. What will you think, O sinner, when you are brought before God, and God shall say, Thou didst so-and-so.” What will you do when he mentions what you did in the darkness of the night when no eye was there?

You will start back amazed and say, “Oh, heavens! How does God know? Is there knowledge in the Most High?” He will say, “Stop, sinner; I have more to startle you with yet.” And He will begin to unfold the
records of the past; leaf after leaf He will read of the diary He has kept of your existence.

Oh! I can see you as He reads page after page: your knees are knocking together, your hair is standing on end, your blood is frozen in your veins, congealed for fright, and you stand like a second Niobe, a rock bedewed with tears.

You are thunder struck to find your thoughts read out before the sun, while men and angels hear. You are amazed beyond degree to hear your imaginations read, to see your deeds photographed on the great
white throne, and to hear a voice saying, “Rebellion at such a time; uncleanness at such a time; evil thoughts at such an hour; blasphemy at such a time; theft at such an hour; hard thoughts of God at such a period; rejection of His grace on such a day; stiflings of conscience at another time” and so on to the end of the chapter.

Then there comes the awful final doom: “Sinner, depart accursed! I saw you sin; it needs no witnesses. I heard your oath; I heard your blasphemy; I saw your theft; I read your thought. Depart! depart! I am
clear when I judge you. I am justified when I condemn you: for you have done this evil in My sight.”

You ask me what you must do to be saved. I will never let a congregation go, I hope, until I have told them that. Hear, then, in a few words, is the way of salvation. Christ said to the apostles, “Preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:15, 16).

Or, to give you Paul’s version, when he spoke to the jailor, he said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.”

You ask what you are to believe. Why, this: That Christ died and rose again; that by His death He bore the punishment of all believers; and that by His resurrection He wiped out the faults of all His children.

If God gives you faith, you will believe that Christ died for you, and will be washed in His blood, and you will trust His mercy and His love to be your everlasting redemption when the world ends.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892) is undoubtedly the most famous minister of modern times. Converted in 1850, he united with the Baptists and very soon began to preach in various places. He became pastor of the Baptist church in Waterbeach in 1851, and three years later he was called to the decaying Park Street Church, London. Within a short time, the work began to prosper, a new church was built and dedicated in 1861, and Spurgeon became London’s most popular preacher. In 1855, he began to publish his sermons weekly; and today they make up the fifty-seven volumes of The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit. He founded a pastor’s college and several orphanages. This sermon is taken from The New Park Street Pulpit, volume II, published in 1857, and was preached on June 15, 1856, in Exeter Hall, London.

THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS TAKEN FROM CLASSIC SERMONS ON THE ATTRIBUTES OF GOD AND PUBLISHED BY HENDRICKSON PUBLISHERS, INC., BY SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT WITH AND PERMISSION OF KREGEL PUBLICATIONS, 1989, PAGES 120-135. THIS MATERIAL IS COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR STUDY & RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY.

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