Today I want to take a look at Psalm 8. This psalm has been turned into worship music and it is a psalm of praise with some wisdom connections. This psalm reflects Genesis 1 in many ways. It expresses wonder at the majestic and sublime nature of God. David stands amazed that the God of creation would pay any attention to the frail humans on earth. The center of this psalm focuses on human beings, a rarity in scripture. David understands that God glorifies Himself in the heavens, but how can he possibly glorify Himself on earth through such weak and sinful people? So, we look at this psalm and see that the writer set to music the significance of the phrase ‘in His image.’ Some look at this psalm as a nature psalm and others as a Messianic psalm. That God would pay us any attention speaks volumes about God. We have value, worth, and dignity because we are creatures made in the image of God. Instead of the world of enemies, wicked people, and distorted justice that we see in psalms 3-7, this psalm promotes an image of the world as God originally created it. A weary person can envision a place of dignity in God’s world.
This psalm begins with an address to the LORD, Yahweh in the Hebrew. This is the covenant God of Israel. The name of God and the glory of God are alternate ways of describing who God is. You will notice that this psalm begins and ends with the same phrase, like bookends that reflect the wonder, awe, and majesty of God the creator. The use of ‘our LORD’ here is a threefold confession of faith. There is only one God. All people were created by Him. The Jewish people in particular are His people and the sheep of His pasture. They can call Him our Lord. But Yahweh was not a tribal God, belonging only to Israel. He wants His name to be known in all the earth. The word majestic is sometimes translated as mighty. It can describe kings, heroes, mountains, or waves breaking on the seashore. And while all those things are awe inspiring and mighty, the created order pales in comparison with the Lord. A person’s name embodies their reputation. The earth and the heaven reveal the Lord’s splendor and all creation worships and praises Him.
Not only has the Lord set His glory above the heavens but He has also deigned to share it with His creatures on earth. Remember the glory of God dwelt with Israel in the tabernacle and the temple. And it was especially revealed in the person and work of Jesus Christ. And while wicked people crucified the Lord of glory, He was raised from the dead and has returned to heaven in honor and great glory. In verse 2 David moved from God’s transcendence to His imminence. God is so great He can trust His praise to infants and children and still not be robbed of glory. We see in Matthew 21:15-16 a crowd of children in the temple cry out “Praise God for the Son of David” pointing to Jesus. The religious leaders tried to challenge Jesus to correct this blasphemy, but Jesus asked them if they had ever read the scriptures, and then He quoted this psalm and verse. The loud noise of the oppressors is contrasted with the praise of God. In the end, the praise of God will overwhelm the sound of evil. Words are only sounds and breath but words have power and words even from babies and children can bring God’s enemies to their knees. Think Moses, Samuel, and of course Jesus who ultimately brought salvation to the whole world. God has often used the weak and helpless to praise Him. David was but a youth when he silenced Goliath and defeated him. David is clearly in awe at the splendors of creation, and the wonders of nature lead him to offer up praise to its Creator. Even the universe with its infinite distances was the work of the Lord’s fingers. The sun rules the day and it’s blinding light usually obscures anything else we might see in the heavens, but at night it is easy to be overwhelmed by the immensity of the sky, the stars, moon, and planets. Even the galaxies. David was awed in his day about the splendor of the night sky. Think about all we know today about the universe, and we become even smaller than what David knew. God is so mighty, and we are so very small and yet God knows us and loves. He has knit us together, created us in His image and knows how many hairs we have on our heads. How majestic indeed! In light of God’s awesome glory, it might seem that people would be of great insignificance to Him, but instead He has crowned us with glory and honor and placed us over all creation. That doesn’t mean we have the control to destroy what God has made. If you remember, God told Adam and Eve their job was to tend to the earth and take care of it. We read in Genesis that God spoke creation into being but here David sees creation as coming from God’s fingers and hands, like the work of a skilled craftsman.
It was evil for the Jews to worship creation, but they understood that creation was the work of a caring creator who prepared the world for the enjoyment and employment of mankind. God remembers us and cares for us. The nations around Israel worshiped heavenly objects as deities. They are indeed awesome and immense, but they are the work of God’s fingers and thus a reason to worship the Almighty, the one who created, and not what He has created. David asked the question “what is man that you are mindful of him?” In view of the vastness of creation and the immense glory of the creator, who are we to presume upon him? But the response is stunning. You have created humans just a little lower than the angels. Humans bear God’s image. He has endowed humans with dignity and charged them to rule. Humans stand at the summit of God’s creation, just a bit lower than the angels whom God also created. We are frail creatures of the dust. God could have said we are a bit higher than the animals but instead He said we are a bit lower than the angels.
The Lord crowned Adam and Eve and gave them dominion over the world (Genesis 1:26-27). We are co-regents of creation with the Lord. The angels are His servants, but we are kings, adopted sons and daughters, and one day all who have trusted Christ will be like Him. Being crowned with honor and glory was God’s original intent. God created humans as majestic creatures who were to rule over His creation. But in our fallen state, we are a mere shadow of what God intended for His creation. In Christ we will recover our majesty and become the people God intended us to be. Through the exalted Jesus Christ, God is reigning today so that God’s children may reign in life through Jesus Christ. “He has made us kings and priests unto God and His Father. To Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” Revelation 1:5-6. By faith we will see Jesus crowned in heaven and that assures us that one day we will reign with Him and receive our crowns.
The mention of wild animals including birds and fish was a reminder of God’s creation of the animal world. Contrary to beliefs among Israel’s neighbors in the ancient Near East, animals are not sacred but simply part of God’s created order. God, and God alone is to be worshiped. So, a quick summary here. God the Father created us to be kings, but the disobedience of our first parents robbed us of our crowns. God the Son came to earth and redeemed us to be kings and today the Holy Spirit of God can empower us to reign in life by one Jesus Christ. David ended this psalm just like he started. “O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” Notice the spelling of the word Lord here. The first word, LORD, is the divine name, Yahweh. The second Hebrew name, Lord, speaks of the one in control, our Sovereign. He is the one who is worthy of our praise, awe, and worship.
In His Grip
Pastor Matt W