Morning Pages: Psalm 8
David establishes the worshipful tone of this psalm from the very beginning, one that is carried throughout its entirety. From beginning to end, this psalm focuses on Yahweh—the ancestral God whose name and renown are known throughout the earth. It's an eruption of praise in which David marvels at his magnificent God.
Vs. 1-2 “O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. Out of the mouths of babes and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger.”
A name encompasses so much more than a way to identify someone. A person’s name is loaded with history and evokes memories, joy, tears, laughter, stories, grief, sorrow, and hurt. And behind a person's name is their reputation, their character established and revealed over time. So when the name of Yahweh proceeds from David's mouth, it is front-loaded with meaning, power, and faithfulness that has been proven throughout generations.
This God covers the heavens with his majesty, unfurling the universe—made up of billions of stars, galaxies, and planets—and spreading it like a blanket. And yet this same God, more glorious than the heavens, shows his strength and silences his enemies through something as vulnerable as a helpless babe. Perhaps, this was a reference to Israel, a small, insignificant nation able to conquer kingdoms much greater and more powerful than she. But it also foreshadows Jesus, a helpless babe who conquered the greatest of all enemies—sin and death—forever proving the power of Yahweh to use the weak to conquer the strong.
As David reflects on the splendor of Yahweh, he erupts in praise:
Vs. 3-4 “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?”
The splendor of the night sky humbles David, leaving him in awe that the God of the universe would not only know him by name but also be attuned to his needs and care for him.
This year, Ken and I sailed our small sailboat eighteen hundred miles from Grenada to Georgia. And as I sat watch in the middle of the ocean, in the dead of night, with nothing and no one around me, all I could do was repeat David's words, “Who am I amidst this vast universe that you think of and care for me?” Being underneath a canopy of billions of stars in the middle of an ocean that stretched far beyond what my eye could see right-sized me in all the right ways. And for a brief moment, I was reminded that I’m simply one tiny piece of God’s creation over which he is in complete control. Something about that right sizes me and helps me rest. But it’s so easy to forget and fall prey, once again, to the belief that I need to hold everything together.
Perhaps we should all spend more time sitting still under the night sky—to be frequently reminded that, in the grand scheme of things, we are insignificant, dependent babes. And yet, we are also profoundly valuable,
Vs. 5-8 “Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the sea.”
We lose mystery and paradox in a world that worships certainty and clarity. But two things can be equally true at the same time. Life in this world is rarely either/or and often both/and. I am both insignificant and significant in God’s economy.
David’s verses reflect Eden and the creation account in Genesis 1&2. God created humanity in his image—to reflect something of his character and likeness in the world—and he crowned us with glory and honor. This is remarkable, and yet it is easy to miss the magnitude of what David is saying. The God of all creation bestowed human beings with dignity, value, worth, and splendor unrivaled by anything else he created. And he not only gave us an intrinsic value, but he also gave us dominion—the authority to rule and reign, to govern over his creation. This is royal language! We are his kings and queens, ruling in his best interest over the kingdom he established in his best interest.
Who is this God that is so powerful but would treat us with such care and honor and even entrust us with authority to rule over his kingdom? Who is this God that is mindful of us? How could we ever doubt our value when Yahweh himself established it?! All of which leads David to again erupt in praise, ending it in the same way he began,
Vs. 9 “O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!”
This is the proper response to who God is and our place in his universe as both vulnerable, dependent beings and his Royal rulers over all of creation.
Until next week,