Expository Sermon from the Psalms | Formed by God | Psalm 139:13-18

pregnant woman

Formed by God (Psalm 139:13-18)

On June 24, Tammy, RJ, Wil, and I were gathered with the rest of Tammy’s family as her father’s life neared its end. I knew the Supreme Court of the United States was handing down decisions that morning, so I kept an eye on Twitter to see if the Court handed down one of the “big” decisions.

About 20-30 minutes before Bob died, the Court handed down its decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization and overturned Roe v. Wade. After the justices heard oral arguments, it seemed they were likely to overturn Roe, and the leaked opinion further confirmed that. But justices sometimes change their votes at the last minute, so I still wasn’t completely persuaded the Court would really overturn Roe. Then, I was elated to see six of the nine justices uphold Mississippi’s abortion law, with five of those justices voting to overturn Roe outright.

However, at the moment I learned Roe v. Wade was history, my godly father-in-law lay dying right in front of me. That juxtaposition really, really struck me—an old soldier of the cross was about to die but scores of children who would have died would now live.

How did you feel when you heard the Supreme Court left abortion laws up to each state? Were you overjoyed that many babies were going to live? Were you confused as to which states would ban abortion and which states would allow abortion? Were you even more committed to vote in local and state elections to influence abortion law here in Texas? Were you angry because of the reactions of friends and family on social media? Were you stunned to hear some of the garbage—and pure lies—spewed as talking points?

Regardless of what went through your mind when you heard Roe had been terminated, this morning’s text directly touches on the evils of abortion. David said, “God gave you life in the womb.” Because “God gave you life in the womb,” abortion is a great evil.

Abortion is a selfish act. The gospel demonstrates that God willingly sent his Son to die for man; abortion says to the unborn child, “You’ll die for me and my convenience.” Abortion is, for many, a way to engage in sexual behavior without consequences. God intended sexuality to be lovingly expressed between a husband and his wife. But many used access to abortion as a way to engage in fornication with no visible consequences. After all, if a child were conceived, abortion could remedy the situation.

But you and I have never entertained the thought of aborting a child, so why even think about the truth “God gave you life in the womb?” Psalm 139 does have great implications in thinking about abortion; however, the application of the passage goes far beyond abortion to impact every part of life.

Scripture (Psalm 139:13-18)

verse 13:

The word “for” at verse 13 connects the verse with everything the psalmist had previously said. David had been writing about how well God knew him; the only way for God to have such intimate knowledge was for God to have formed David in the womb.

God formed David’s “inward parts”—his internal organs—and kitted him in his mother’s womb. The imagery here is that God was putting David together in the womb. Just as Yahweh formed “the man of dust from the ground” (Gen 2:7), he formed David in the womb.

verse 14:

David would praise God, for he was “fearfully and wonderfully made.” “Fearfully” means “to create awe.” In other words, David stood in awe—fear—of God as he marveled at his conception in the womb. The word “wonderfully” is slightly more difficult to understand. The Hebrew term means “to be distinct” or “to be marked out.” The idea is likely that David, as a Hebrew, was distinct as part of God’s people even before his birth.

David knew well God’s wonderful works—again, the idea is that David stood in awe of God because of God’s work in the womb.

verses 15-16:

David was “made in secret” and “woven in the depths of the earth.” God formed David far from human sight, so far from human sight, in fact, it might as well have been in the center of the earth. While no human eyes witnessed David’s body taking shape, God saw and orchestrated the whole process.

Yahweh also saw David’s days before they began. That doesn’t take man’s free choices away; instead, God simply knows what man will choose.

verses 17-18:

God’s thoughts were far greater than David’s. When you look at the creation of the human body, how can you not be amazed at God’s thoughts?


God gave you life in the womb.” That truth applies to each person on this planet; God gave every man, woman, and child life in the womb. Therefore, Scripture provides clear guidance on what you should believe and do.

Every life has priority.

Every single life has intrinsic value. Every man, woman, and child (born and unborn) bears the divine image. “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Gen 1:27).

No one needs to earn his worth as a human being; he or she has intrinsic value from conception because he or she bears God’s image. That neighbor who annoys you at every hand bears God’s image. That in-law whom you cannot stand and who cannot stand you is valuable to God. That politician with whom you strongly disagree has a soul worthy of Jesus’s sacrifice.

Since every life has priority, murder is wrong. The Scriptures repeatedly condemn murder. “You shall not murder” (Ex 20:13). “You know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him” (1 Jn 3:15).

But you know that and you’re not tempted to murder. So why even mention the sin of murder? Because you don’t need to kill be guilty of murder. Matthew 5:21-26. “Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him” (1 Jn 3:15).

You’re rightfully sickened by abortion and all the senseless murders we see in Houston. Are you equally sickened by harboring anger and hatred in your heart? Let me ask you: Is there someone to whom you need to make amends? If you need to clear the air with a brother or sister, do that today.

Every life has purpose.

Every life conceived in the womb has a purpose, for God created that life.

You know that all people have the purpose of fearing God and keeping his commandments (Eccl 12:13). However, let’s think about one’s purpose in the context of Psalm 139.

In Psalm 139:16, David said that all his days were written in a book. While David was free to make his own choices, God knew the path he had planned for David. God knew David’s courage in overcoming Goliath, that uncircumcised Philistine. God knew David’s righteous reign over his people. God knew David’s powerful psalms would move people for centuries.

God knew as he was forming you in the womb what he would need you to do in the kingdom. Paul wrote that the church is a body with each member performing its function (1 Cor 12:12-27). God knew what part he would need you to fill in the body, and he gave you the right qualities so you could fulfill that role. Are you fulfilling your God-given role? Do you even know what your God-given role is? Let me urge you to spend time examining your heart to see what your God-given role is. Then get busy and fill that role.

Every life has praise.

“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” When David contemplated all God did in creating him, he was driven to praise. How could he not be? When you contemplate God’s great work in making you, how can you not worship him? When you think about how delicate your body is, how all the parts work in harmony, how can you not give God praise?

You’ve come into God’s presence this morning to worship and honor him. As you pray this week, give thanks that God made your body as wisely as he did. Thank God that you have eyes to see beauty, ears to hear truth, a mouth to sing his praise, and feet and hands to do his will. Thank God that the systems of your body work so well together. Thank God that your body is more complex and more intricate than any machine ever created by man.


If you really understood the truth that “God gave you life in the womb,” how might your life be different? You’d treat each person with dignity—regardless of skin color or ethnicity. You’d reconcile with your enemies and put anger far from you. You’d fulfill God’s purpose for your life. You’d praise God every day of your life.

How is your life impacted because “God gave you life in the womb?” This morning, do you need to change the life God gave you?

This sermon was originally preached by Dr. Justin Imel, Sr., at Church of Christ Deer Park in Deer Park, Texas.

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