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Majestic and Marvelous

Psalm 8 - O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens.2From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.

3When I consider 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, the son of man that you care for him? 5You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet: 7all flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas.

9O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
Have you ever marveled at the amazing display of stars on a clear moonless night? Many years ago on a backpacking trip, our family slept outdoors without a tent high in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. There, far away from the bright lights of civilization, the display of stars was breathtaking! How small we felt in such an awesome universe! The words of Psalm 8, which our family had memorized, leaped to our minds as we gazed up at the sky.

If you ever feel like you’re just a dot in the vast universe, read and meditate on Psalm 8. No doubt David, the author of this psalm, had the same feelings of awe and “smallness” when he looked up at the heavens, but the Lord revealed to him that from God’s perspective people are much more than mere specks in a vast universe! Apart from the revelation of Scripture we would never know that we are more than just specks of dust among the stars. However, the Bible says that we are of great significance to God! Psalm 8 gives us our majestic Creator’s divine perspective.

Background Notes:

Psalm 8 is a hymn of praise to God for His marvelous works of creation and His wonderful plans for mankind.

Take a look at the title of the psalm. It tells us that this is a psalm of David, and because it’s written “for the director of music,” it is also a hymn of praise. “On the gittith” may refer to a musical instrument that was to used to accompany this hymn, or it may possibly refer to a tune that had some connection with the town of Gath. Gath was one of the five major Philistine cities, and was the hometown of the giant Goliath. Some Bible scholars have suggested (because of verse 2) that David may have been thinking of his victory over Goliath when he wrote this psalm, that is, when God used young David’s simple words and small slingshot to “silence the foe.”

In addition to being a hymn of praise for God’s marvelous works of creation and His great plans for mankind, Psalm 8 is clearly a Messianic psalm. It is quoted three times in the New Testament, each time in reference to Jesus Christ.

In Matthew 21 the Lord was in the Temple courts after His triumphal entrance into Jerusalem. When the Jewish leaders rebuked the Lord for allowing the children to praise Him by saying “Hosanna to the Son of David,” Jesus Himself quoted Psalm 8:2; “From the lips of infants and children You have ordained praise” (v16).

The apostle Paul quoted Psalm 8:6 in 1 Corinthians 15:27, where he wrote: “He has put everything under His feet.”

The third quote from Psalm 8 is in Hebrews 2:6-8, where the author of Hebrews quotes Psalm 8:5-6 to show that, even though He is Man, the Lord Jesus is greater than angels. “What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You care for him? You made him a little lower than the angels; You crowned him with glory and honor and put everything under his feet.” In quoting Psalm 8:5, the author of Hebrews uses “lower than angels,” while some translations of Psalm 8:5 read “lower than God.”

The Hebrew word used in Psalm 8:5 is “elohim,” which can be translated “God” or “gods” or “angels.” The Greek translation of the Old Testament (the Septuagint) translates this phrase as “lower than angels,” and that is the version quoted by the author of Hebrews. A full discussion of translation questions is quite involved. However, when a New Testament author, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, quotes from the Septuagint, this is a good indication that it's the text and translation to follow! Thus we would read Psalm 8:5 as, “You made Him a little lower than the angels.”

What does it mean, that man was made a little lower than the angels? Mankind was created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27), but at the present time man is subjected to limitations that don’t pertain to angels. The law of gravity, for example, does not limit angels in their travels and ministry, and of course angels don’t get sick and die as people do!

The author of Hebrews was making the point that the eternal Son of God became true Man at the incarnation. As man, He became “lower than angels.” He willingly subjected Himself to the limitations of being human for the purpose of accomplishing the work of redemption. However, at no time was the Lord Jesus Christ inferior to angels. Never! The eternal Son of God was and is and will forever be greater than the angels. Even though He became Man, he remained fully God, and He remains fully Man and fully God — forever!

Doctrinal / Teaching Points:

1. The LORD is majestic in His works of creation.

All of us have looked up into the sky on a clear night and marvelled at God’s majestic creation. No doubt David spent many clear starry nights out on the Judean hillsides near Bethlehem while watching his family’s sheep. He was probably recalling and reflecting on those experiences when he wrote verses 3 and 4.

Most likely David was not aware of the concept of “light years” as we are today, and thus our sense of awe at God’s creation should be even greater than David’s as we gaze at the innumerable stars — many of which are actually entire galaxies! Notice that the heavens are described as the work of God’s “fingers.” Wow! We have a big God!

It’s important to note that nowhere in the Bible do we find even a hint of the pantheistic idea that “God is the universe” or “the universe is God.” God is the Creator of the universe. He is above the heavens (v1). The universe is the creation of His fingers.

It’s also important to note that nothing was random about the origin of the universe. The universe was ordained and set in place by the Creator (v3). How can intelligent people conclude that the universe created itself out of nothing? Even little children know that things don’t just create themselves out of nothing! How can people believe and propagate the notion that the amazing amount of intricate design in this universe just came about by chance, after some kind of “big bang”? Talk about kissing your brains goodbye! Seriously speaking, people have to be willfully blind to deny that there is a powerful and awesome Designer and Creator behind this universe.

The LORD is majestic in His works of creation.

2. The LORD is marvelous in His plans for mankind.

Did you ever see a model or diagram of the universe with a “You are Here” arrow showing the location of the earth, a tiny dot on the fringes of the universe? From the human perspective, we’re just a speck of dust on a speck of a planet in one of the arms of a galaxy containing billions of stars that are larger than our sun. And our galaxy is just one of billions of galaxies!

When we consider the mind-boggling immensity of the universe, we can certainly identify with David’s question in verses 3-4: “When I consider the 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?” What’s the answer to this question? The answer is that from the divine perspective, mankind is very significant and important. We have been created in the image of God, and crowned with glory and honor (v5).

Mankind was given dominion over the other works of God’s creation, including animals. The meaning of the word “dominion” has sometimes been twisted to justify mankind’s sinful exploitation of the earth and its creatures for his own greedy purposes. We don’t have the right to pollute or abuse the environment, or mistreat and exploit animal life, or destroy anything that God has created. God has honored mankind with the responsibility to care for, protect and enjoy His handiwork (vs 6-8 and Genesis 2:8-9, 15).

Unfortunately, since sin entered the world, mankind has not properly cared for this earth as God intended. How-ever, when the Perfect Man returns to this earth in power and glory, all things will be “put under His feet.” Every wrong will be corrected and everything will be set right. The “first Adam” failed, but the “Last Adam,” our Lord Himself, will show forth all that God intended for mankind on this earth. All believers will share in the glorious reign of Christ on this earth, when all things will be subject to Him. At that time we will certainly sing, “Oh LORD, our Lord, how majestic is Your Name in all the earth!”

The LORD is marvelous in His plans for mankind.

Practical Application:

Remember the businessman and the baby! 

If you’re ever bothered by how small you feel in this vast universe, remember this illustration.

Think of a powerful and wealthy businessman with holdings and interests all over the world. This tycoon travels the globe in his private jet, meets with world leaders and is involved in international negotiations that affect the world economy and global politics. Now think of a little baby in a small town far away from the important international meetings, transactions and travels of the businessman. The small baby in the little town is such a tiny and insignificant person compared to the vast world of the businessman — except for one fact! That baby is the businessman’s baby — his pride and joy! No matter where that businessman travels, and no matter what major global concerns he undertakes, his loving thoughts and care are constantly with his precious child in that tiny town.

Do you see the point of the illustration? No matter how small or valueless we may feel at times, we are never insignificant to our heavenly Father! We are special to God! We may live on a tiny planet in a huge universe, but we are His own children, His pride and joy, His most precious possession! His thoughts are constantly with us. We are always in His care and protection.

Remember the businessman and his baby!
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