Vol. 7, No. 11
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David appreciated what God had done for him before he was born:
You created the organs inside of me, and you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I am fearfully and marvelously made! Your works are wonderful! That I know so well! My bodily form was not hidden from you, being made privately in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw me as an embryo, and in your book all its parts were written, and even the time ordained for me before day one. (Psalm 139:13-16)
One wonders what the phrase "in the depths of the earth" in verse 15 means until one notices that the same preposition "in" (be, in Hebrew) in verse 13 precedes "my mother's womb." Somehow the two phrases are synonyms. But still one wonders how such a strange phrase "in the depths of the earth" could refer to a womb.
One commentator says the phrase points to "the remotest recesses of the womb" (Leslie), while another says that it is a "poetical description of the darkness of the womb" (Cohen). And the context shows that the "in" location can be nothing other than David's mother's womb.
How David was formed in the womb got the best of him emotionally: "I am fearfully and marvelously made! Your works are wonderful! That I know so well" (v. 14). By the inspiration of the Spirit (2 Samuel 23:2) David knew that God had formed his "bodily form," and "embryo," in his mother's womb, and that "all of its parts were written in God's book "before day one" of David's life (vs. 15-16).
But the details of what God had written about David's unborn condition were not revealed in David's time. When I, 3000 years later, read what doctors have learned about an unborn child, I am just as much overcome emotionally as was David.
What is called "the DNA code," planted in each unborn child, determines gender, skin pigment, eye color, hair color, body size, and even fingerprints. The criminal John Dillinger tried to burn away his finger prints with acid to fool the FBI, but unsuccessfully. No two embryos are alike.
Every unborn child physically is a composite of 64 chemicals compounded and coordinated to be ready to serve in varied body systems: skeletal, muscular, nervous, respiratory, circulatory, digestive, eliminative, and reproductive. The skeletal system has 230 moving parts. Motor and sensory nerves have five functions: optic, auditory, olfactory, tactile, and gustatory.
Not only was David overcome emotionally by his meager but astonishing knowledge of the embryo, but so was another David--David Hume, thousands of years later. A physician, a Dr. Galen, had been converted from infidelity by what he had discovered in the human body, and his words so shocked David Hume that he wrote: "The bones he [Dr. Galen] calculates to be 284" with above 40 "distinct purposes."
Astonishment arises, wrote this latter David, when one concentrates on the skin, ligaments and vessels, and the 600 muscles "each intelligently placed and adjusted for above 6000 intentions." Then the brain! Hume was so moved by Galen's description that the skeptic himself exclaimed, "Who can doubt of a Super-Intelligence?" (Hume Selections, Charles W. Hendell, Jr., editor; New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1955, 385-386). One feels sorry for Hume. After coming so close to becoming a believer, he relapsed into doubt.
The tiny hands on an embryo (after three months, a fetus) are so fashioned that they can play an organ, paint a picture or perform delicate surgical operations. After the third week the beating of the embryo's heart can be felt. What an instrument! It beats "a hundred thousand times a day"! It is equipped to pump 5 quarts of blood a minute, 75 gallons in an hour, 70 barrels a day, 18 million barrels in 70 years!
David's tiny form in his mother's womb had what would become an outer, middle and inner hearing organ with a keyboard of 1500 keys. The average piano has 58. A brochure from the office of a hearing specialist, Dr. John Shea, quotes words from David's son: "The hearing ear and the seeing eye, the Lord has made them both" (Proverbs 20:12).
"The eye is of no use at the time it is formed. It is an optical instrument made in a dungeon" (William Paley, Natural Theology, Boston: Gould, Kendall & Lincoln, 1838, 147). But what is made in blackness all of a sudden has a purpose in the light: an optical nerve, a retina, lens, pupil, iris and cornea. Then moisture is needed "to keep the eye moist and clean (which qualities are necessary for its brightness and its use)" (William Paley), and behold! A tear gland is in place!
[A] wash is constantly supplied by a secretion for the purpose; and the superfluous brine is conveyed through a perforation in the bone as large as a goose-quill; or, more properly speaking, along two capillary tubes, one from either eyelid, which enter a duct, lodged in a canal passing through the bone. When once the fluid has entered the nose, it spreads itself upon the inside of the nostril, and is evaporated by the current of warm air which, in the course of respiration, is continually passing over it. Can any pipe or distillery be more mechanical than this is? It is easily perceived that the eye must want moisture; but can the want of the eye generate the gland which produces the tear, or bore the hole by which it is discharged--a hole through the bone? (William Paley, apud Irwin H. Linton, A Lawyer Examines the Bible, Boston: W.A. Wilde Co., 1943, 119).
To the question, "Can mindless evolution produce the tear gland?" the psalmist replies with a question: "He that formed the eye, can he not see?" (Psalm 94:9).
The skeptical David Hume was fair to write:
Anatomize the eye; survey its structure and contrivance; and tell me, from your own feeling, if the idea of a contriver does not immediately flow in upon you with a force like that of sensation. The most obvious conclusion surely is in favour of design" (Hume Selections, ibid., 316).
David's conclusion "in favour of design" he expressed in a tribute to his Maker: "How precious are your thoughts for me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I count them they are more than the grains of sand. When I awake, you will be nearby" (Psalm 139:17-18).