David’s Nightly Practice

Tremble and do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent (4:4)

The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord is on his heavenly throne. He observes everyone on earth; his eyes examine them (11:4)

The Lord looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. (14:2)

I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. I keep my eyes always on the Lord. (16:7-8)

Though you probe my heart, though you examine me at night and test me, you will find that I have planned no evil; my mouth has not transgressed. (17:3)

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. (19:1-4)

Test me, Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind (26:2)

From heaven the Lord looks down and sees all mankind; from his dwelling place he watches all who live on earth— he who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do. (33:13-15)

Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me. By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me— a prayer to the God of my life. (42:7-8)

On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night. (63:6)

When I was in distress, I sought the Lord; at night I stretched out untiring hands, and I would not be comforted. I remembered you, God, and I groaned; I meditated, and my spirit grew faint. You kept my eyes from closing; I was too troubled to speak. I thought about the former days, the years of long ago; I remembered my songs in the night. My heart meditated and my spirit asked: “Will the Lord reject forever? Will he never show his favor again? Has his unfailing love vanished forever? Has his promise failed for all time? Has God forgotten to be merciful? Has he in anger withheld his compassion?” Then I thought, “To this I will appeal: the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand. I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.” (77:2-12)

In the night, LORD, I remember your name, that I may keep your law. This has been my practice: I obey your precepts. (119:55-56)

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (139:23-24)

Let his faithful people rejoice in this honor and sing for joy on their beds. (149:5)


Useful Commentaries:

Fr. Dennis Hamm, SJ, a scripture professor at Creighton University, calls the Daily Examen “rummaging for God.” He likens it to “going through a drawer full of stuff, feeling around, looking for something that you are sure must be there.”

As I see it, King David, in his prayer we call Psalm 139, is offering a beautiful example of the Examen, where He is asking God to “rummage” with him through the drawers of his life, looking for a God-breathed self-awareness. An honest and true investigation that not only finds the source of the stinky things in David’s life but more importantly, offers a “clear picture” of what David can turn away from so he can get back on his trek with God…on the road to eternal life!

8.2 The Examen: A God-Breathed Self-Awareness.