In Psalm 139:14, David doesn’t credit himself for being “fearfully and wonderfully made.” Rather, this, too, is written as an offering of gratitude.
Has the miracle of childbirth ever left you in awe of our Creator? This was my reaction the other day as I held my newborn niece. It mesmerized me to observe those tiny fingers and toes, knowing that every detail was fashioned by the Creator. This newborn’s DNA wasn’t merely a result of science and randomness. In fact, I thought, this baby is rare—because there is no person on earth who is exactly like her. How incredible is that? Perhaps this is the same awestruck wonder that David experienced as he penned Psalm 139:14. While he wrote that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made,” I can imagine that he, too, was captivated with this sense of amazement to know that God created our every detail with intention. But what does this mean exactly, and can this Scripture resolve our insecurity issues?
What Does Fearfully and Wonderfully Made Mean?
“Fearfully” doesn’t imply that others should be afraid of us. Instead, the Hebrew word, in this passage, is “yare.” This means we have been crafted with great respect, honor, and reverence.
The Hebrew word “wonderfully” is “pala.” This means we have been created in a distinct, marvelous way that is distinguished and set apart from others.
So not only did God, in the process of creating us, do so with careful intention, but He also did so in a way that would cause us to be set apart from others. Isn’t that interesting? Especially considering that “being different” is often frowned upon in our society today. So many of us feel as though we need to blend in with the rest of the world. But this revelation—that we were uniquely created—is what propelled David to praise God!
Think about it: If we weren’t valuable in God’s eyes, then why would He go through the trouble of designing our distinct and rare fingerprint? Why, then, would He bless one person with an introverted personality and another with an extroverted personality? If we believe that the Bible is true, then we can trust that God assigned these traits and that they were not merely a result of happenchance.
If God didn’t care about us, then He wouldn’t devote care and attention to setting us apart from one another. His lack of care would be obvious in the way that we would all look, sound, and act the same. We would simply be another person who has entered this world. We’d live the same life that others have lived and enter the grave the same way.
But we do matter to God, and the special care He has for us is reflected in our creative differences. It’s reflected in the way that our Creator fashions each individual fearfully, with respect, and wonderfully, in a way that is set apart from others.
What Is the Context of Psalm 139:14?
Psalm 139 is penned by David as He reflects on our value in God’s sight. He ponders the fact that we are never out of His mind or His presence. Our every thought, word, and action is open and exposed before Him, and nothing can separate us from His presence.
In Psalm 139:6, David reflects on this mind-boggling sovereignty of God when He proclaims, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too loftly for me to attain.”
This entire chapter is composed in a manner of praise and adoration to God for His omnipresence, omnipotence, sovereignty, and careful intention to every detail of our lives.
In Psalm 139:14, David doesn’t credit himself for being “fearfully and wonderfully made.” Rather, this, too, is written as an offering of gratitude. Psalm 139:13-16 say,
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”
In Psalm 139:17-18, David goes on to ponder just how much God values us and cares for us—so much that we are constantly on His mind, and we are never out of His sight.
Notice, too, how David reflects on the mysterious and miraculous way in which we were designed in the womb. The study of human structure and childbirth has always left people in awe. It’s above our human mentality to comprehend how each organ, bone, cell, tissue, muscle, etc. miraculously work together in helping our body carry out its daily activities. Humans are not the ones who should receive the glory for this because this miracle points to a power, a Being, far above our human intelligence, strength, and mentality.
And it is this mystery alone that provides evidence of our Creator.
5 Encouraging Ways to Know We Are Fearfully and Wonderfully Made
God is our Master Artist
The unique and thoughtful way that He crafted our appearance, personality, and gifts is a reflection of His love toward us. After all, it’s passion that motivates artists to create, to begin with. This love propels an artist to devote time, skill, and intention to perfecting his or her piece of artwork.
How much more do you think that we, as God’s creations, are loved by our Master Artist? We are reminded of just how much we mean to God in Luke 12:7:
“And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.”
Our Creator shaped us in such a way that aligns with the plan He has for us, which involves glorifying Him and extending His Kingdom. We are reminded of this in Ephesians 2:10:
“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.”
In my devotional journal for young women, Love Your Selfie, I use this illustration of artwork to emphasize just how much we are worth in God’s sight: When a famous artist sells a masterpiece, the expensive value is not necessarily based on the art itself; rather, it is traced to the name of the artist.
Likewise, we are a masterpiece of the Creator, and it is the mark of His fingerprints upon us that give us our worth.
We have been made in the image of God (see Genesis 1:26-27)
This means God crafted humans in a way that reflects aspects of Him. We are His image-bearers. This does not mean we are identical to the Creator, but rather that we can serve as a representative of Him. And how amazing is it to know that we are the only part of His creation that has been made in His image? That fact alone increases our worth! Why, then, should we go through life with an inferior mentality?
Psalm 8:4-5 sheds light on just how valuable we are in God’s eyes: “What are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings that you should care for them? Yet you made them only a little lower than God and crowned them with glory and honor.”
It is God’s definition alone that carries weight and authority to define who we are
Our identity is found in Him alone.
Have you ever heard of the Urban Dictionary? This is an online dictionary that allows anyone to define a slang word or phrase. Basically, we should never trust this resource to provide a word’s true meaning. It doesn’t carry the same weight or authority as, say, the Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary.
In the same way, people can try to define their identity and worth. But ultimately, we should never view ourselves in light of who they say we are. Why? Because our identity can only be defined in light of God’s Word and His love toward us. He is the only one who has the authority to define us, and according to Him, we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.”
God is perfect and matchless (see Psalm 18:30)
He was, is, and is to come. Isn’t it reassuring to know that the God we serve has never once made a mistake—throughout all time, space, and eternity? I’ve made plenty of mistakes throughout my 27 years of existence. But despite the fact that God has always been in existence, never once has He needed an eraser. Never once has he said, “Oops! I didn’t mean to create him or her.”
Let this serve as an encouragement for those of you who may have, at one time or another, felt like your existence was a mistake. Because even if you were unplanned by your parents, rest assured: You were God’s idea. He had the final say in breathing life into your being. If He did not see a purpose in your existence, don’t you know He wouldn’t have followed through with your creation?
Our gifts and design were purposefully selected to help us carry out our role in God’s Kingdom
Romans 12:4 tells us that “Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body.”
We are here to prepare this world for Christ’s second coming. We are here to spread the Good News of the Gospel—and this is why He has gifted us with a wide range of gifts and talents. If we were carbon copies of one another, then this would hinder people from being reached in various ways. Instead, your unique design is intentional and necessary so that you can fulfill your role in His Body.
Colossians 1:16 reminds us that “Everything was created through him and for him.” We were brought into this world for the sake of bringing Him glory, and every quality that He gave us was assigned with this in mind. He left nothing out in our design.
Yes, each of us is important. Not because of who we are within ourselves, but because of the special role we play in preparing this world for our King. If you ever start to doubt your worth, remind yourself of 1 Corinthians 12:18-22:
“But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. How strange a body would be if it had only one part! Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. The eye can never say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you.’ The head can’t say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you.’ In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary.”
“Fearfully and wonderfully made” isn’t just an expression we proclaim as an antidote to feel better about ourselves. It’s the truth, and we should accept it as fact.
In times of insecurity, we can return to this passage and remind ourselves of the thought, skill, and intention God invested in our design. Not so that we can swell in pride over who we are, but so we can swell in pride over who He is. Because a creation is always a reflection of its creator, and God’s love is embedded into our very being.
When we fully grasp this concept—when we ponder the miracle of our creation and our “fearful and wonderful” design—we, too, will respond in the same manner of praise as David did in Psalm 139. We can trust that our individual quirks and personalities were intentional. We have been chosen, created in respect, and set apart on purpose. Why?
So that, while we use our hand-selected gifts and strengths, we can carry out the purpose of fulfilling the story He has written over our lives. The story that is connected to God’s overall story of eternity—His plan of carrying out the Gospel until the return of Christ.
And that is a miracle indeed.
Photo credit: ©GettyImages/gorodenkoff
Tessa Emily Hall is an award-winning author who wrote her debut novel when she was sixteen. She is now a multi-published author of both fiction and non-fiction inspirational yet authentic books for teens, including her latest release, LOVE YOUR SELFIE (October 2020, Ellie Claire). Tessa's passion for shedding light on clean entertainment and media for teens led her to a career as a Literary Agent at Cyle Young Literary Elite, YA Acquisitions Editor for Illuminate YA (LPC Imprint), and Founder/Editor of PursueMagazine.net. She is guilty of making way too many lattes and never finishing her to-read list. When her fingers aren’t flying 128 WPM across the keyboard, she can be found speaking to teens, teaching at writing conferences, and acting in Christian films. Her favorite way to procrastinate is to connect with readers is on her mailing list, social media (@tessaemilyhall), and website: www.tessaemilyhall.com.
This article is part of our larger resource library of popular Bible verse phrases and quotes. We want to provide easy to read articles that answer your questions about the meaning, origin, and history of specific verses within Scripture's context. It is our hope that these will help you better understand the meaning and purpose of God's Word in relation to your life today.
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