Geeking About the Psalms: Psalm 8

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Psalm 8, How Majestic is Your Name

1, O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth!  You have set Your glory above the heavens.
2, Out of the mouth of babies and infants, You have established strength because of Your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger.
3, When I look at Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have set in place,
4, what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You care for him?
5, Yet You have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.
6, You have given him dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet,
7, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field,
8, the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas.
9, O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth!

Verses 1-2

David starts off with, “O LORD, our Lord.”  Whenever we see “LORD” in the Old Testament, God’s personal name, Yahweh, is being used.  In the Hebrew Old Testament, “Yahweh” is still written as Yahweh, except the vowels are purposefully put in the wrong places of the word because of the traditional Jewish custom of never saying or writing His personal name down out of reverence.  So here, David addresses God personally, and then gives Him the honorific title of “Lord” in the Hebrew word Adonai, which is a term used to address someone as king or ruler.  So David is acknowledging God as ruler of the earth, and over his own life.
©Garrick Sinclair Photography. Wildlife Refuge, Oklahoma

©Garrick Sinclair Photography. Wildlife Refuge, Oklahoma.

We witness God’s majesty in the earth.  People often ask me why photography is such an expensive hobby of mine, and it’s because I see God’s majesty and glory in all His creation.  I photograph so I might capture an image of God’s majesty.  The photograph to the left is one of many photographs I’ve captured that makes me ponder on God’s majesty.  When we stop and admire a sunset, a sunrise, a beautiful waterfall, a field of flowers, we are stopping to admire God’s majesty in His creation whether we acknowledge it or not.  His majesty extends beyond our view as we stare into the heavens.  We stop and admire the stars, the Christian mesmerized by God’s creation, the unbeliever awe stricken by the beauty that supposedly blew up into existence by sheer dumb luck.
We even see God’s majesty in people—in the birth of infants, what we often dub as “the miracle of life.”  God’s most majestic and glorious works are most clearly displayed in the incarnation of His only Son, Jesus Christ, and in the reconciliation He has brought us.  On verse 2, Martin Luther makes this comment:
This is the way Christ’s kingdom is established, namely, not with human force, wisdom, counsel or power, but with the Word and the Gospel preached by infants and sucklings…  By “infants” He does not mean young children who cannot walk… but plain, simple, unsophisticated people, who are like infant children in that they set aside all reason, grasp and accept the Word with simple faith, and let themselves be led and directed by God like children. Such people are also the best scholars and pupils in Christ’s kingdom.  (Luther’s Works, 12:108.)
In these words, Luther helps us understand what Christ means when He says to have childlike faith (Matthew 18:2-4).  A childlike faith is one of unquestioning faith.  I have a friend who once told me of a child who was having a hard time grasping why Jesus died on the cross when he was a camp counselor.  The child asked, “Why would Jesus let that happen to Him and not fight back?” My friend answered, “He died for you because He loves you, and if He fought back then He wouldn’t have been able to save you.  In order to save you, He had to die for all of us.”  The child responded, “Okay!” and ran off and played with his friends.  If that answer had been given to any adult, that would not have been enough (indeed, it seldom is).  An adult would demand a more pragmatic thought process with a philosophically complex answer as well as better tangible evidence that’s more convincing than a historical recording.  But to this child, the  simple answer was enough; it made perfect sense to him and he didn’t need to prod his counselor’s mind for answers that somehow make more sense than the obvious truth, so he responded with simple faith to a simple answer.  The answer he gave is the answer that Scripture, in a nutshell, gives us, and that was all the child needed.
I’ve been told other similar stories and witnessed my own accounts where a child has exhibited unquestioning faith.  It is always surprising how these children have more faith in God’s Word than most adults do. It’s humbling and makes me realize sometimes asking interrogating questions are unnecessary.  Of course, it’s okay to ask a question if you don’t understand something, but childlike faith is not one that’s given in a debate format, demanding more and more evidence because then it is no longer faith.  Jesus’ words ring true, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29).  Such childlike faith, as the psalm says, is incredible strength God gives because His enemies seek to destroy it.  Sometimes childlike faith can be so great that our enemies have nothing to say against it because they know nothing they’ll ever say will be enough to crumble one’s fortress of faith; and often it makes them angry.  Children may be inquisitorial, but they are not questioning; there is a difference.  By being inquisitorial, one genuinely seeks to know the simple answer.  By being questioning, one seeks to subject any possible answer to the high standards of man’s rationality, which is where the problem lies. Understanding of God’s Word comes not through logic and reasoning, but only through faith (1 Corinthians 2:14).  A person cannot be argued into the faith.  A person comes to faith only by the monergistic conversion of the Holy Spirit as the Lord draws him or her near (John 6:44; 1:12-13; Romans 9:16).

Verses 3-4

These two verses remind me of some poems I’ve written about the mystery of God’s love for us. We look at the stars in the night sky and remnants of the Milky Way galaxy, and we examine in awe the photographs taken by our most powerful telescopes and conclude these are God’s most beautiful creations.  In our eyes, they are more beautiful than we are.  So what is man that God loves us and seeks to be in relationship with us?  God has created all these miraculously beautiful things, and yet in His eyes we are His most beautiful creation.  No doubt He sees the beauty in the rest of His creation (otherwise they wouldn’t be beautiful), but He regards us as His most beautiful creation.  He loves us the most, so much that He died for us.  We have the inclination to sin and rebel against God since birth (Genesis 8:21; Psalm 51:5), and still God loves us the most and desires we all turn from our wicked ways and turn to Him so we may not perish but live (Ezekiel 18:23; 33:11; 2 Peter 3:9; John 3:16-17).  Let us not wonder why God loves us this much, but instead in our awe turn to praise Him in thanksgiving.

Verses 5-9

Here, David is considering the place human beings have in God’s created order.  He has created us only a little lower than the angels.  We possess not the immortality and divine powers of angels, but unlike angels we have been created in God’s image and have been given authority to rule over creation.  Angels might have divine powers, but they do not rule over us.  They serve God, and as God’s servants He commands they serve us for protection against dark powers (Psalm 91:11-12).  They have also served as messengers to us, which we see many examples of in Scripture.  (In fact, the word for “angel” in Greek, ἂγγελος, also means “messenger.”)  We are specially created—made in God’s image with authority over creation.  We’ve been given this great authority and responsibility, but David reminds us creation is the work of God’s hands.  So we, too, are servants of God who have been set to rule over creation, but only as God intends us to rule over it.
Concerning the conclusion of this psalm, Luther said, “David concludes this psalm just the way he began it.  He thanks the Lord, our Ruler, for His great and inestimable blessing, for establishing such a kingdom and calling and gathering His church, which gloriously praises His name throughout the world and thanks Him in heaven” (Luther’s Works, 12:135-136).  This same God that David praises is our God, too, and is Ruler of our lives.  Let us therefore praise God for His majesty and glory and give thanks for His abounding love for us.  When we stand and admire God’s creation, let us turn our awe into praise.  Let us respond in unquestioning childlike faith.

Psalm 8 Prayer

Father, You are my God and Ruler of my life.  Let all I do speak to Your glory and majesty.  Thank You for Your gift of faith.  Teach me to have faith as a child—unquestioning of Your will and Your Word.  O Christ, You are the Lord and giver of life.  Thank You for the gift of life and salvation You have given me, a gift undeserving and received for Your sake alone.  Lord, grant me faith that will cause my enemies to be still—a faith that may extinguish the flaming arrows of the evil one.  Lord, You have created such beauty in this earth and other worldly places, but You see me as the most beautiful.  Even when I consider myself to be ugly, worthless, and frivolous, remind me that in Your eyes I am beautiful and mean the world to You.  You died for the world—You died for me because for reasons unknown to me, I am the world to You.  To You I commend my spirit, and to Christ be the glory forever and ever.  Amen.

Ricky Beckett

Garrick Sinclair "Ricky" Beckett first started his Christian writing on a blog titled "The Lutheran Column" where he hires proficient Lutheran writers to convey biblical truth. Along with the blog, he also writes poetry, string quartets in music composition, enjoys doing photography, reading, and playing video games. Ricky is a graduate from Concordia University-Ann Arbor from the Pre-Seminary program with a major in Christian Thought and a minor in Theological Languages. Currently, Ricky is a seminarian at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis as he works on his Masters of Divinity to become a pastor in the LCMS (Lutheran Church Missouri Synod).

1 Comment

  1. Diogo on June 19, 2020 at 12:23 pm

    Thanks for this, great post! Praise and honour to our Father!

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