In Psalm 51:11, David prays, “Cast me not away from your presence…” Does that strike you as odd?
After all, didn’t David also write in Psalm 139:7-10, “Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.”
So, did David suddenly forget in Psalm 51 that God is omnipresent (He is everywhere at all times)? How else, after all, could it be possible to be apart from God’s presence?
David did not mis-speak. There are actually two different kinds of God’s presence described in Scripture. And, if that seems odd, consider how we already understand these two presences in our own lives.
The first kind of presence is physical presence. God is omnipresent meaning He is everywhere at all times. Humans, on the other hand, can physically be in only one place at one time.
The second kind of presence is relational presence. Think about the stereotypical husband and wife who sit in their recliners every night without any meaningful conversation. The affection for one another departed years ago and their marriage is simply a convenience. Conversation for them never exceeds small talk. Although they are physically in each others presence, they aren’t relationally present. When they are home, they are together, but they are not really “together.”
David wants to avoid this sad state of affairs in His relationship with God. He doesn’t want to reduce God to small talk while he sits on the recliner of his life flipping channels.
What about you? Can you say that you are in God’s presence, or just His omnipresence? So put down the remote (or mobile device) and “let us come into his presence…” Psalm 95:2.