“Psalm 139: A Sorority Girl Looks at Psalm 139,” Courtney Shepard

A Sorority Girl’s Look at Psalm 139


Courtney Shepard


This was written in preparation for stepping down as president of my sorority, as a reflection over my time as president and philanthropy chair and as a prayer for each of the sisters. I took each line of Psalm 139 and responded to it in prayer.


O LORD, Thou hast searched me, and known me.

Father, how awesome it is that You know me so intimately.  You knew me as a freshman, when I came to college, striving to have that “best time of my life” my parents and friends promised. Lord, how much greater where your plans than mine. You knew me when I first joined the sorority, so hesitant and scared, and you have known every minute of my life since.

2 Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, Thou understandest my thought afar off.

Every action, every thought, every motive, and every intention—you have known them completely. You have not only known them, but You have shaped them. Thank You, Lord, for blessing me with Your vision and Your desires. Three years ago, You anointed me. Since then, I have striven to be Your loving arms, Your comforting words, Your serving hands, Your humble spirit to all my sisters. Since then, I have striven to shine Your light boldly amidst a darkness unlike I had ever known.


3 Thou measurest my going about and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.
4 For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, Thou knowest it altogether.

As my term is coming to a close, Father, I wonder… did I do everything You desired? Forgive me for the times I chose to ignore Your command and seek my own.  Forgive me for the words of destruction when You gave me words of life. How wretched am I that I have so misrepresented You to Your beloved people.

5 Thou hast hemmed me in behind and before, and laid Thy hand upon me.

Yet despite my iniquity, You have led me and worked through me to touch Your beloved daughters. You have never let me go. Forgive me, Father, for the many times I have struggled to see myself as Your precious creation. Forgive me for the times I have struggled with self-confidence and self-image, for I know at those times, I could not love you and serve you well. I allowed my own self-destructive ways inhibit the ability You have given me to love. I praise You, Lord, for never letting me stray far, for always bringing me back to You. Thank You for speaking to me in so many ways so I can understand who I am in You and how listening to anything else the world tries to claim is an insult to You, the Creator.


6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; too high, I cannot attain unto it.

Looking back at how You have led me in the sorority, I can only fall on my knees in praise. Father, thank You for revealing to me some of Your fruits, and for doing so in a way that there is no doubt it is all from You. I praise You for allowing me to be Your vessel, for continuing to empty me so I may be filled more with you.


7 Whither shall I go from Thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from Thy presence?

How I’ve tried to run from You! I make my own plans and keep them from You. I am so afraid that if I offer them up, that You will take them from me. Yet each time I do, You bless me. And when I don’t, You let me fail. I had such different plans for a sorority my freshman year. I had visions of everything it would be. I decided, but never prayed about it.

Then You put me where You wanted—in a place of complete darkness, where I did not know any person, much less a Christian.  I didn’t drink, I didn’t “hook-up”… what was I doing there?


8 If I ascend up into heaven, Thou art there; if I make my bed in the nether-world, behold, Thou art there.

You were there, in that darkness. You had a plan, a magnificent plan so much greater than I could fathom. You told me to trust You. When I did, the darkness of my depression was lifted. Then You told me to love these girls with Your love.  To start a Bible study.  I only knew of one girl who would consider coming.


9 If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;
10 Even there would Thy hand lead me, and Thy right hand would hold me.

You had Your hand on so many others, leading them.  Women who had tried to run away from You so they could have a “college experience.” They found themselves empty, desiring You. Yet they were too ashamed to come to church, or to go to any on-campus Christian group. But You pursued them. A Bible study with their sisters—people who already loved and accepted them, people who would not judge them for going so astray, or for their lack of knowledge. You brought a few the first time, then many. People I never imagined came, desperate for You. Right when I became overwhelmed with the mission, You introduced me to Liz, the Greek Intervarsity leader who “just so happened” to be an alum of the sorority. She helped me lead. By junior year, I was certain that You had done an amazing work and content in continuing it as it was. But then, You brought forward the two highest Chapter Council Advisors and the Province Director of Chapters. They approached me and explained that You had also given them purpose in continuing with Greek Ministry. They gave money so we could cook dinner for the Bible study each week, and then You brought even more of Your daughters.

Now, as a senior, You are showing me how much some of my sisters have grown in their faith because of the encouragement and support they’ve had from each other. You’ve shown me people who have turned back to You and have laid their lives at Your feet. You’ve shown me people who for the first time professed their faith in You, and now are walking with You. Blessed be my eyes, for they have seen Your wondrous work and the demonstration of Your power. Blessed be my heart, for it dances within me. Blessed me my mouth, for it desires to sing praises to You.

11 And if I say: ‘Surely the darkness shall envelop me, and the light about me shall be night’;
I thought I knew darkness. I’ve struggled with depression, with thoughts of suicide, with eating disorders. Now, I’ve seen my dad struggle with the same. How many conversations have I had with him during his lowest times to keep him from killing himself? I’ve seen people in intense spiritual warfare, sensed the demons holding onto him and screaming and I prayed. I have heard life stories from campers that have made me cry.

But I didn’t know desperation until a few nights ago.  How she wept—hysterical weeping unlike I have ever seen. She talked of disappointment in people, in herself, in her life. Yet all the while, You made it so evident that she was desperate because she realized her emptiness. An atheist, now depressed, she realized she had nothing to live for, yet so desired to have something.   Such a strong and successful woman, outspoken about her beliefs and critique of all religion, was shattered—absolutely brittle before me. She admitted that all the people she admires most are Christians, and she is jealous of whatever we have.


12 Even the darkness is not too dark for Thee,
but the night shineth as the day; the darkness is even as the light.

Lord, only You could orchestrate this. You gave me the boldness that day in the car, when we were just getting to know each other, to tell her that I had been healed of my depression with prayer. While I expected defeating comments, she instead opened up. Now she comes to me when she her spirit is smashed, when her pretenses have collapsed, and reveals to me her true desperation. We have a date now to talk about “the real, important stuff” as she calls it.

As I stand back, Father, I am so amazed by You.  Of all the people, I never ever expected any kind of conversation like this with her. Please take all of my words and thoughts from me. Spirit, speak for me. Speak Your words of life to her. She is broken and hungry; may Your words be the bread she craves.


13 For Thou hast made my reins; Thou hast knit me together in my mother’s womb.

You truly are sovereign.  Praise be to You for Your amazing work! I hand over all control and all of myself to You.

14 I will give thanks unto Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
wonderful are Thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.

Lord, I do know that I am Your creation, Your beloved daughter. I struggle, but I know. I look around at chapter, though, and I see the faces of many of your daughters.  How blind they are to their beauty! They are dying to know they are beautiful, dying to be loved and accepted.  Some stop eating so they’ll feel more attractive. Some shop so they’ll feel accepted. Some make perfect grades so they’ll feel wise. Some dress up and hunt for boys so they’ll feel loved.  They measure their worth by the number of times they give out their number in a night. They give up their bodies for a few minutes relief from their loneliness, only to be thrown out afterwards. They drink to forget, or to make themselves more approachable go guys.

How desperately they want to be loved! There is no price they won’t pay. I try to love them. Our sisterhood is incredibly strong. Yet that is not enough, for what they crave is the love of their Maker.


15 My frame was not hidden from Thee,
when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.

They have not been hidden from You, do not hide Yourself from them! Speak truth into their lives and give them ears to hear.  Show Yourself, and give them eyes to see. May they realize their desire for You, may they know You, may they fall in love with You, may they give themselves over to You. May You be their doting Father, and may they be Your loving children.


16 Thine eyes did see mine unformed substance, and in Thy book they were all written–
even the days that were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.

How precious they are to You!  You have given me such love for them, yet You love them far more than I have the capacity to do. How I want them to know that! Yet You do all the more. Use me to show them in any way—through cards, conversations, planning events, encouraging, baking, hugs, hanging out, going out, remembering birthdays- however You want to use me to love Your daughters. Most of all, may they know it is not me, but You!

17 How weighty also are Thy thoughts unto me, O God! How great is the sum of them!

You have made me so dependent on Your wisdom! You have placed me where I must avidly seek to hear You so all my actions and decisions for the chapter may come from You. Speak loudly, Lord, so I may know Your will and follow You.


18 If I would count them, they are more in number than the sand; were I to come to the end of them, I would still be with Thee.
How I needlessly worry that I won’t hear Your voice anymore. That You will suddenly become mute, as if there’s some cap to the amount of times You will grant a child wisdom and direction. Instead, You constantly have used situations to make Yourself heard, each time louder. Formal seemed like a disaster last year, but You used it as an opportunity to love You daughters, to strengthen and bless our chapter. So, too, recently with elections. Thank You for providing me with wisdom and with words to speak.  How You have blessed us!  All the glory and honor and praise to You, my King!


19 If Thou but wouldest slay the wicked, O God–depart from me therefore, ye men of blood;
20 Who utter Thy name with wicked thought, they take it for falsehood, even Thine enemies–
Lord, when I think of all the woman abused—those who live at the shelters we support, the victims of rape and abuse- it makes me outraged! There is so much evil in this world, so many wicked men who take out all their anger, lusts, frustrations, and want for power on innocent women. How it makes me want to weep and want justice all at once! Our chapter has done all we can to support these women once they have been abused, but how do we stop it?


21 Do not I hate them, O LORD, that hate Thee? And do not I strive with those that rise up against Thee?
22 I hate them with utmost hatred; I count them mine enemies.
I hate all the evil. I hate what has happened to our world, how women so often take the weight of the falling world. I hate all those who do such wickedness. Avenge them, Lord! Have Your justice on those who abuse your daughters. Show me how I may help bring about that justice, make me Your servant in seeking righteousness.


23 Search me, O God, and know my heart, try me, and know my thoughts;

24 And see if there be any way in me that is grievous, and lead me in the way everlasting.

I pray that You will purify me, God. If there is any sin I cling to, or any habit which separates me from you, I ask that You would reveal it to me and help me follow Your path, not my own. As I prepare to step down, I ask for Your grace to cover my iniquities, for Your power to help me overcome my sin and faults. My heart is burdened because I do not want to leave my dearest friends, the sorority who I have devoted my life to the past year, my greatest source of joy. But I know You’re smiling as You remind me of my reluctance to start that journey of joining the sorority in the beginning. You’re reminding me of how You blessed me in greater ways than I had ever known for my faithfulness. You’re reminding me that Your plan is always greater. So I submit to You. Prepare me for what plans You have ahead.