In 2 Kings 6, King Ben-Hadad of Aram waged war against Israel. Over and over, Ben-Hadad secretly decided where to send his troops to attack. But each time, King Jehoram of Israel had already shifted his own troops to guard the location.
Ben-Hadad was frustrated, and figured that the only way Jehoram could so accurately anticipate his moves was a spy in his own cabinet.
But one of Ben-Hadad’s servants—perhaps Naaman who had been healed by Elisha in chapter five—spoke the truth. He said, “Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the words that you speak in your bedroom!” (2 Kings 6:12).
This must have come as quite a startling realization to Ben-Hadad, to think that Jehovah God was eavesdropping on his secret conferences. Indeed, it may come as an alarming reminder to many of us that God sees our private moments.
It makes no difference whether or not we have successfully hidden our wicked actions from our neighbors, our children, our spouse, our boss, or our brethren. It doesn’t matter if we have a secret Facebook account to conceal our infidelities. It doesn’t matter if we have a secret credit card to hide our spending. There is no lead box impervious to the Lord’s X-ray vision. There are no unsolved mysteries before the Lord, no unknown culprits, no perfect crimes.
The prophets discuss the omniscience of God in many places. Jeremiah records God’s question: “Can a man hide himself in hiding places, so that I do not see him? …Do I not fill the heavens and the earth?” (23:23-24). Isaiah warns, “Woe to those who deeply hide their plans from the Lord, and whose deeds are done in a dark place, and they say, ‘Who sees us?’ ” (29:15). Criminals have a tendency to commit evil deeds under the cover of darkness, in secret (Eph. 5:11-14), but we fool ourselves if we think God isn’t watching over our shoulder.
In fact, God’s knowledge extends not just to deeds done, but thoughts disguised in the human heart. David instructed Solomon, “Know the God of your father, and serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind; for the Lord searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts” (1 Chron. 28:9).
It’s not just God’s eye—it’s also His hand. The prophet Amos declared of God’s enemies,
Though they dig into Sheol, From there will My hand take them; And though they ascend to heaven, From there will I bring them down. Though they hide on the summit of Carmel, I will search them out and take them from there; And though they conceal themselves from My sight on the sea floor, From there I will command the serpent and it will bite them (9:2-3).
Amos described the most distant locations he could come up with—the lowest point on the bottom of the seabed, the highest mountain peak, even the unseen realm under the earth and the unreachable expanses of the sky and stars—and said that God’s power extends even there. There is no place in creation that a person can go to hide from the eye or hand of God.
Perhaps the passage that should make us squirm the most is Hebrews 4:12-13, which says, “There is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” The word “open” is the Greek word gymnos, meaning “naked.” And the word “laid bare” is the Greek word tetrachelismena, with trachea or “neck” as its root. This word was often used in fighting, when a man was on his back with his head pulled back, at the mercy of the opponent to inflict a killing blow. An accurate way to translate this phrase would be “naked and helplessly exposed.”
Thankfully, the omniscience of God is also a very comforting thing when you count God as your friend. Hanani the seer assured King Asa of Israel, “The eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His” (2 Chron. 16:9).
Our heavenly Father “sees in secret” (Matt. 6:6) and thus hears our prayers even in the darkest, deepest places. “Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, On those who hope for His lovingkindness, To deliver their soul from death, And to keep them alive in famine” (Psalm 33:18-19).
David was comforted by the thoughts he expressed in Psalm 139, “O Lord … You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. You scrutinize my path and my lying down, And are intimately acquainted with all my ways. Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O Lord, You know it all … Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, Even there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will lay hold of me. If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, And the light around me will be night,” Even the darkness is not dark to You, And the night is as bright as the day.” I am thankful to know that God can hear my prayer, and rescue me from any difficult situation I can imagine. —John Guzzetta