January 22, 2023

Psalm 8

Photo by <a href="https://unsplash.com/@mahkeo?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditCopyText">Khamkéo Vilaysing</a> on <a href="https://unsplash.com/wallpapers/nature/night-sky?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditCopyText">Unsplash</a>

    how majestic is your name in all the earth!

You have set your glory
    in the heavens.
Through the praise of children and infants
    you have established a stronghold against your enemies,
    to silence the foe and the avenger.
When I consider your heavens,
    the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
    which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
    human beings that you care for them?

You have made them a little lower than the angels
    and crowned them with glory and honor.
You made them rulers over the works of your hands;
    you put everything under their feet:
all flocks and herds,
    and the animals of the wild,
the birds in the sky,
    and the fish in the sea,
    all that swim the paths of the seas.

    how majestic is your name in all the earth!

David praises Jehovah (LORD), whose name is majestic in the earth because he created it all, including the heavens.  Further, David is in awe of how his Lord ordered creation such that humankind would be positioned its stewards.  Psalm 8 is a psalm of praise.  Indeed this one sounds more like what we sing on a Sunday morning than the lament in Psalm 6 that we looked at last week!

As I read this I thought that perhaps David wrote this at night.  He doesn't mention the sun, only the moon and stars.  I imagine, in an era without the light pollution we enjoy today, him standing out in a field and beholding the expanse above him.  (Note in the psalm that "heavens" is a reference to the sky, not heaven as a place where God dwells.)  What does he see?  Probably something like the photo above.  So.  Many.  Stars.  The experience, even without all the knowledge we presently have about how immense the universe is, makes him wonder at how small he is.  He says, "You have set your glory in the heavens."  Glory refers here to splendor, the grandeur of an imposing form or appearance.  Jehovah's glory is displayed in creation, especially that vastness of the sky!  David recognizes his comparable smallness and worships his Jehovah's majestic name.

Then he moves on to consider that, despite his physical insignificance in comparison to the heavens, Jehovah created all things with an order, within which human beings were the crowning achievement of creation, placed on earth to tend to all Jehovah created.  What a calling!  God is so big, His creation so glorious, and still, God is "mindful" of his image-bearers and "made them rulers over the works of [his] hands."

The hierarchy is clear.  The Creator is on top.  We live and rule in dependence on and in submission to Jehovah.  Yet David communicates in his praise that it is not a hierarchy of fear, but of love.  In the poetic style of the ancient Hebrews, couplets that emphasize an image or idea, we see the mindfulness of God described as care for human beings.

You know, I have no idea how creation happened at the scientific level.  People seem to like to argue about that.  With this psalm, however, let's leave all those details aside and imagine ourselves standing with David out in the dark on a plain or at the top of a mountain beholding the clear night sky in all of its glory.  We are tempted to stop there, simply amazed at what was created.  Then the Spirit reminds us not to stop there with our adoration, but to turn our thoughts to the one who is greater than creation, Jehovah the Creator.

We hold our breath a moment when we remember he calls us his own beloved children through his Son Jesus.  The one who made and placed every blessed star in the heavens knows our names, set us on his earth to steward everything he created, and knit us together to reflect his image in the world.

As we exhale we join David and whisper or shout,

"Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!"

1 comment:

  1. So thought provoking! Thank you again for opening my mi d the adventure of the Psalms.