What did David mean when he wrote that he was “fearfully” made in Psalm 139:14?
Psalm 139 describes some of God’s attributes. He knows everything (v.1-6), His Spirit is present throughout the universe (v.7-12) and each person is created by Him (v.13-16). The verse before and after Psalm 139:14 describe the development of a baby from conception. This caused David to praise God for His power and skill and exclaim that “I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Ps. 139:14NIV). The Hebrew word that is translated “fearfully” is yare (Strongs #3372). In Vine’s Dictionary it means “to be afraid, stand in awe, fear”. When used of an exalted person it means “standing in awe”. This implies honor, reverence and respect for the person. To be “fearfully” made means to be “awesomely” made.
Other Psalms of David that mention yare as a response to God are: “fear(s) the Lord”, “those who fear You (God)”, “those who fear Him”, “see and fear (God)”, “have no fear of God”, “all mankind will fear (God)”, “fear Your name” (Ps. 15:4; 22:23,25; 25:12,14; 31:19; 34:7,9; 40:3; 52:6; 55:19; 60:4; 61:5; 64:9; 86:11; 103:11,13,17; 145:19). So David had a strong reverence for God.
What about Christians today? The New Testament says Christians should worship God “with reverence and awe” (Heb. 12:28). He is the ultimate authority over humanity; He observes us and will judge us (1 Pt. 1:17; 2:17). We will all give an account of ourselves at the judgement seat of Christ (Rom. 14:10-12; 2 Cor. 5:10). Those who reverence God will desire to honor Him with holy living and by submitting to one another (2 Cor. 7:1; Eph. 5:21). Living in the fear of the Lord was associated with numerical growth in the early church (Acts 9:31).
So, like David we should stand in awe of God and respect His great power and position. This is expressed in the song by Rich Mullins:
“Our God is an awesome God;
He reigns in heaven above
With wisdom power and love:
Our God is an awesome God”.
Published, July 2005
David never spoke Hebrew because Hebrew did not exist until the exile into Babylon. When Jews were in Babylon they made up Hebrew. David spoke Syriac, Egyptian and another Caananite language. Syriac is the same as Aramaic, the language of Yeshua (Christ).
March 2, 2013 at 1:15 am
Thanks for the comment. The Siloam inscription shows that the Hebrew language originated at least 100 years before the Jewish exile in Babylon.
See: Did the Hebrew language exist before the exile in Babylon?
March 5, 2013 at 8:57 pm
Wrong! Lol. Abraham was called a Hebrew and the seed of Abraham or ISRAEL was speaking Hebrew since then. When Moses gave the Torah, it wasn’t given to ISRAEL in no other language but HEBREW. Now when they was taken to Babylon, yes many of them learned Aramaic but they never stop speaking in Hebrew. King David wasn’t alive when they went into exile in Babylon. Nor was King David born in Egypt not spoke Egyptian. You have ABSOLUTELY no scriptural evidence or bases to prove your point only your opinion,which don’t line up with GOD’S WORD. King David was a Hebrew that spoke Hebrew.
September 5, 2019 at 11:48 pm
Thanks Kimla for your reply to Richard’s comment.
Scholars believe that Hebrew was spoken in the kingdoms of Israel and Judah during the 10th to 7th centuries BC.
Wikipedia claims that there is evidence of “Biblical Hebrew” as far back as the 10th century BC, which extends to the days of king David (2 Sam. 5:4). The Gezer calendar is dated in this time period. Likewise, the earliest known example of the Hebrew alphabet discovered at Tel Zayit is dated in the 10th century B.C.
See, Did the Hebrew language exist before the exile into Babylon?
September 6, 2019 at 2:36 am
Our pastor loves to joke around using this verse. She would say that the ones made “wonderfully” are the attractive people and the “fearfully” are the unattractive. I hope the congregation knows she’s joking because it would be sad if people will think that God creates “ugly” people. I also wish my pastor would stop joking about it too. I’ve heard about it a ton of times from her and I’m starting to believe it’s not a joke to her.
November 30, 2013 at 8:13 pm
I invite you to ask GOD how to share with your Pastor your desire regarding the joke
July 4, 2016 at 2:52 am
This is quite an article. Thanks. Great job
January 11, 2014 at 2:43 am
Thanks for the article. Four of us have been studying Psalm 139 & we got stuck on the word ”fearfully” this has really helped us.
March 25, 2014 at 7:16 pm
At my church we have been talking about being fearfully made not fearful
December 11, 2018 at 12:41 am
The word awesome is used a lot these days however I think only God is truly awesome.
March 11, 2019 at 9:17 pm
We are fearfully made, we cannot be reproduced, although we have scientists that think they can reproduce another human being, but I tell you it cannot be done. We are magnificently made, our blood, our veins, our heart, our liver, our whole internal organs cannot be reproduced. We can take from another person as a transplant, but even this might be a chance it won’t work. They cannot make or produce blood, or another heart, or another veins…it’s impossible, so how awesome is God! We are walking miracles of God! Love your post, and I love God; He is so phenomenal. How can we not serve such a mighty God! I do stand in awe of His magnificence. The beauty in this earth as well as our human bodies. My father was a preacher and I am as his oldest daughter feel the call is upon me as well. The Good News is for all and I pray I have what it takes to stand and fight!
September 12, 2019 at 12:48 am