O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens. (Psalm 8:1)
The Psalm is directed to the LORD. We are allowed to listen in on the conversation, and to let the Psalm be our own prayer as well.
The phrase, the name of the LORD, refers to His person, words, works, attributes and perfections. The LORD is Holy…He is good to all… slow to anger…of great mercy… abounding in Kindness and Steadfast love! There is no higher use of the mind, than to consider the excellency of the name of the LORD.
The Lord has set His glory “Above the heavens”. The spatial heavens are the theater of his glory, that is, his splendor, majesty,power,beauty, and his light. Even such as a vast theater as the heavens themselves are inadequate to display God’s glory, as Solomon prayed at the dedication of the temple,
But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded?( I Kings 8:27)
Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.(Psalm 8:2)
Yet the awesome God of glory who fills the heavens with His splendor and majesty, delights to use “babes and sucklings” to fight his battles on earth.
Unpretentious, seemingly insignificant, not at all self conscious “babes” are the chosen vessels of God’s purposes on earth. The ones who know they are “nothing”, but are content to be small, “little in their own eyes”, as God once described Saul, even the ones who in the world’s eyes look foolish and weak, these are ‘weapons’ God delights in using against his enemies.
At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight.(Matthew 11:25-26)
This has been the pattern through out time; not Saul, the seven-foot King, but the diminutive David, the least and forgotten son of Jesse. Not mighty Cedars and Oaks such as Rome or Babylon, but lowly Jerusalem, the Myrtle tree in the ravine,and ultimately, not the Palace or even the temple, but into a stable did the Saviour come.
The Poet Edward Shillito , makes this point powerfully, in his priceless poem,Jesus of the Scars”…
If we have never sought, we seek Thee now;
Thine eyes burn through the dark, our only stars;
We must have sight of thorn-pricks on Thy brow,
We must have Thee, O Jesus of the Scars.
The heavens frighten us; they are too calm;
In all the universe we have no place.
Our wounds are hurting us; where is the balm?
Lord Jesus, by Thy Scars, we claim Thy grace.
If, when the doors are shut, Thou drawest near,
Only reveal those hands, that side of Thine;
We know to-day what wounds are, have no fear,
Show us Thy Scars, we know the countersign.
The other gods were strong; but Thou wast weak;
They rode, but Thou didst stumble to a throne;
But to our wounds only God’s wounds can speak,
And not a god has wounds, but Thou alone.
God’s strength, majesty and wisdom are often hidden in apparent weakness and folly.
When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained;(Psalm 8:3)
The more men learn about astronomy, the smaller we all seem to be. Truly the earth is a small speck of dust in a vast amphitheater! Distances between stars are measured in hundreds and even thousands of light years,(186,000 miles a second)! there are 31.5 million seconds a year, which would make the distance of one “light year”, 6 trillion miles away!
Yet the planets are held in orbit with mathematical precision. The Psalmist speaks of “thy fingers” and of “Thy hands”, referring to the power and dexterity of the one who has created all of this. God is personal.
What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?(Psalm 8:4)
The word The Psalmist uses for ‘man’ here is Enosh which means ‘the frail’. Adam and Eve had a grandson named Enosh, “frail”, when they came to the realization that Cain would not be the promised deliverer, the “seed of the woman”. Their optimism was gone, the reality of the fall of man became evident to her, so “Enosh”, the frail, was a fitting name.
One unseen germ can fell the mightiest man! We know not our time! We often forget that every breath we have is in fact a gift of God. How dependant upon the mercy of God is even the most ardent atheist! The murderous Moslem terrorist gains daily sustenance from Jesus, the very one he is constantly persecuting!
Yet God is interested in us! He condescends, “the Lord looked down from heaven…”, he expresses His concern for us to the point that He entered into our world, and fully experienced our humanity, even suffering and dying with us.
He mentions the Son of man, who will be revealed as God incarnate, Immanuel,”God with us”, the representative man. Jesus is man as He was meant to be, according to the Creator.
For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.(Psalm 8:5)
Man is mediate. What I mean by this is that man is “in between” the animal life, and heavenly life. Man is not an animal, He bears the Image and likeness of God. But man is not an Angel, nor is man divine. My feet are on the ground…so are some of my appetites and desires. But I long for something higher and purer…something this life cannot offer me, which is one of the ways I know that I was made for another “city…whose builder and maker is God”.
We are not told that man is above animals here, but that he is “A little lower than the Angels…”. This is because man was made to look up. When ever man becomes forgetful of God, he does indeed become ‘bestial’.
So foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as a beast before thee.(Psalm 73:22)
Lord, how great are thy works! and thy thoughts are very deep. A brutish man knoweth not; neither doth a fool understand this.(Psalm 92:5-6)
The Fall of Man…and his rescue
Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet: All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field; The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas.(Psalm 8:6-8)
Man was given dominion, he was made to be a steward of the earth, and to rule. What happened? Man does indeed rule over the earth and the beasts, but man himself, in spite of his technology and mastery over much of God’s creation, is unhappy, frustrated and the rule itself is corrupted, abusive and partial.
God put into place a “curse of futility” as soon as man fell. The earth is subject to decay, bondage and death. Everything breaks down and all of man’s accomplishments are written on sand. In his fallen state, man is noble and bestial at the same time. We marvel at technological accomplishments, yet wonder why they always get put to the service of evil.
Man is estranged from God, therefore everything he touches crumbles. God wouldn’t want man to make a life for himself here on earth as though he needed not God! Therefore there is a curse of futility, man is a ruler, but a frail ruler. He cannot create anything lasting, the tide always comes in and crushes the sand castles.
If only we could start all over again? If only there was a new Adam…a new Son of Man, for a new Creation. We have been ruined by sin, can there be a new beginning?
Hebrews tells us that the Son of Man of this Psalm has indeed come, there really is a new Son of Man, a “Last Adam”! Hallelujah, there actually is a “new Creation” for He who made it all declares, “Behold I make all things New”.
But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man that thou visitest him? Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands: Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.(Hebrews 2:6-8)
Back Where We started…only better
O Lord our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!(Psalm 8:9)
In Jesus, the last Adam and the New Son of Man, there is a new beginning, a new humanity, redeemed from the effects of the fall, cleansed by His blood, restored back to God and to the glory which we once fell short of. Hallelujah!