How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!This verse falls into the "how-many-times-have-I-read-this-and-still-didn't-see-it category?" Sometimes (perhaps, often) we read in a "knee-jerk" sort of way, half-reading the words, but not really looking closely enough at them to see what they really mean.
How vast is the sum of them!
If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
I awake, and I am still with you.
It's easy to do. Yes . . . it is. And that is why we do it. It's EASY. OK, now what?
Well, my sort of half-listening interpretation to "How precious are your thoughts" centered on God's thoughts about ME (I hope not for selfish reasons). This does in fact blend in with earlier verses, "you discern my thoughts afar off," and "even before a word is on my tongue, you know it completely" (2 & 4). That connection aside, verse 17 is not in the same vein. Now, the Psalmist is declaring "Your thoughts" (viz., what goes on in God's mind) are "precious to me." Now, the million dollar question: "Honestly, how do the infinite number of thoughts (more than the sand) that simultaneously flood God's mind come across to us as "precious?" Something is precious when it carries an intimate meaning to us. Somehow, among all God's myriad thoughts--he controls all actions in the universe, every evil actions evil men propose, all wars, all school-yard fights, as well as every poem, symphony, and invention--we might have to find it strange that God not only knows us, but guides us in every step! Given that the Infinite has infinite capacity, it's still amazing beyond comprehension that we have such a wonderful audience with this Tremendous Mystery!
Learn. We benefit by meditating on things we cannot understand! No one CAN keep a ledger of all of God's thoughts. Still, the Psalmist ponders them. We should as well.
Learn also that though so many thoughts mesmerize us and even put us to sleep (see ESV Study note), we will awaken and find that God is with us. So what? Praise the understanding of God, who knows our weakness yet bends to our inability to see him. We may not be able to grasp HIM, but He graces us! "I awake, and I am still with you."