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Psalm 139:7,8 – Make My Bed in Sheol


Psalm 139:7,8 – Where could I go from your Spirit? Or where could I flee from your presence? If I ascend up into heaven, you are there. If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, you are there!

Of course, at the time this was written, David did not ascend up into the heaven where God lives, for Jesus tells that no man had ascended to heaven. and Peter tells us that David did not ascend to heaven, but was in his grave. (John 3:13; Acts 2:29,34) In reality, David speaks figuratively, showing that if he could fly into the sky like a bird, he still would not be free of the presence of Yahweh. Likewise, he is speaking figuratively of making his bed in sheol, although one, when laid to rest in a grave, could be said to be laid in a bed in sheol, in that the grave would signify the death condition. Both are pictoral references.

Of course, David had no thought here of a hell of torture, nor was he saying that he could make his “bed” in paradise, as many believe “paradise” was region of sheol. David was certainly not speaking of making a bed in eternal torture. Nor is David saying that Yahweh would die in order to be present in the realm of death. We need to remember that sheol is often used pictorially in this manner, such as speaking of digging into sheol (hiding in the earth) in order to escape from God’s presence. (See Amos 9:2) And we also read of Jonah, that he was in sheol when in the belly of the fish. Likewise, David is saying that even if he could enter into sheol in order to try to hide from God, God would still find him.

We need to caution reading “omnipresence” into this verse, as that word is usually defined (that God is present everywhere), for that is not the point that David was trying to make. Rather the point is that God is able to make his presence or power known no matter where we might go. If one should define ominipresence as the ability to be in all places, this scripture would fit that definition.

The words of Psalm 139:7,8 carry the same general meaning as Amos 9:1,2. Translators add several words in English which may give the text a greater meaning than what David meant to say. Young’s Literal Translation renders Psalm 139:8 as: “If I ascend the heavens — there Thou [art], And spread out a couch in Sheol, lo, Thee!” While more literal, Young still adds one word, “art”, which he put in brackets to show that it does not appear in the Hebrew. With this in mind, and in view of the context, the verse could possible be understood to mean: “If I ascend up into heaven, there you find me; if I make my bed in sheol, there you will find me.” The point that David was making did not have anything to do with the condition of the dead in sheol, but that there was no place that he could hide from the presence of Yahweh.

Nevertheless, God is able to make his presence and power known in sheol, oblivion, the realm of death, for he has shown his power to raise the dead from sheol; likewise, David prophesied that the Messiah’s soul would not be left in sheol. (Psalm 16:9,10) Peter testified that God did raise Jesus’ soul from sheol (hades), thus, in effect, showing that God made his presence known in sheol in order to raise him from the dead. — Acts 2:27-32.

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