Psalm 8: The Greatness of God: Part I
Man’s Place in God’s Universe: verses 1-4
Introduction: David marveled at man’s place in God’s creation. In this two-part series: Psalm 8: The greatness of God: Creation and Man, David answers the proverbial question: who and what is man from God’s perspective. As it was in David’s day, the teaching in this psalm is sorely needed in our present culture. Any discussion of the created world must begin with God and move to the creature and creation. The theme of this blog: Psalm 8:The greatness of God: Creation and Man is a call to begin with the Creator. He was no evolutionists! .When man attempts to take centerstage he reverses the Creator-creature relationship. God does not bless competitors (Isaiah 42:8; 48:8-11).
v.1: O Lord, our Lord; how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens.
v.2: From the lips of children and infants you have obtained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and avenger.
v.3: When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
v.4: What is man that you are mindful of him the son of man that you care for him?
Psalm 8 is one of the creation psalms in book I (the others are Psalms 24, 33). Only these three psalms in Book I (Psalms 1-41) mention God’s creation of the world. First some background is in order. Book I focuses on the challenge by mankind, both within and without Israel, of the power and purpose of God. God covenanted with Himself in eternity past to save a people for Himself (John 6:37-43). Post-fall, God, His will and design, has been challenged by mankind in all ages. This will continue until Jesus returns. In due time, God established Israel as a theocracy. In order to establish a kingdom of peace and righteousness, God raised up David, the prototypic king of Israel. He was a man after God’s own heart and pointed to the greater Messiah and the greater Son, Israel’s true King, Jesus Christ. Kingdom building is a major activity of God and His agents.
David was God’s man and agent to establish the kingdom of peace and righteousness. He was met with the same confrontation and conflict that characterizes all human history post-Fall. David entered into battle with God’s and Israel’s enemies. Book I captures a portion of that conflict. David was often alone with his Lord (see Psalm 3). He had been trained as a shepherd in the fields. The nighttime sky was often his big screen television. As he viewed it, he marveled and was overwhelmed at the artistry of God.
The presence and work of God and man in relationship to God are dominant themes of Psalm 8. Psalm 8 also focuses on man, who he is, and his place in the created order. David knew that God comes first (v.1-3). David began and ended the psalm with praising God (v.1, 9). David began by praising God who is Lord. He is David’s and Israel’s Lord as well. In verse 1, David proclaimed: O Lord, our Lord; how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. Imagine David as he is on the run taking time to rest. He looked up as he must have done as a shepherd lad. In response, David begun with God: God’s greatness: Creation and Man and he made simple but profound statements of truth.
First, he acknowledged the reality of God – He exists. He is real which is in contrast to what fools say in their hearts (see Psalms. 10, 14, 53, 73).
Second, he acknowledged that one of the responsibilities and privileges of the creature is to acknowledge. trust, and praise God.
Third, David accentuated God’s majesty and excellence. Those words seem mundane to us in a world of digital “gadgets,” technological marvels, space exploration, cell phones, and special effects displayed in motion pictures. The awe is often eviscerated from those words. However, the words convey God’s royalty, splendor, magnificence, and greatness. They convey His God-ness.
Fourth, David acknowledged the Creator-creature distinction. God is God and man is not. Man will not understand man unless he begins with the Triune God. Man is the creature and God is the Creator. In creation, God’s glory is manifested as Creator and as Controller.
Fifth, God is the starting point of all existence. He displays His glory as it fills the heavens and the earth. God is glorious and His glory is everywhere most notably in the creation but also in and with man. Creation gives evidence that God is, is powerful, and is of most excellent – far above the earth. In verse 4, David viewed mankind through the grid of God’s creative majesty and asked a question regarding man’s being and identity.
Sixth, God’s creation is glorious and orderly because the Creator is glorious and orderly. He sets His glory in the heavens as evidenced by the creation: Psalms 19:1, 50:6, 89:5; 96:4-6. God manifests Himself to His creatures. In verses 4-8, David moves from the heavens to man on earth.
Seventh, God and His glory are reflected in the creation AND in God’s kindness – He is mindful of man. Moreover, God crowns man with glory AND grants him power over the creatures (verse 4).
1. On a clear night, look up and out from yourself. What do you see?
2. The heavens are God’s tapestry that He uses to give man an insight into His very Being. What view of God do you consider when you look up and out and how does that view influence you? How did it influence David?
3. David moved from verses 1-3 to man in verses 4-8. What is David’s reasoning?
Psalm 8: The Greatness of God: Part II
Man’s Exalted Place in God’s Universe: verses 5-9
v.5: You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.
v.6: You him made a ruler over the works of your hands, you put everything under his feet;
v.7: all flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field,
v.8: the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas
v.9: O Lord, our Lord; how majestic is your name in all the earth!
Given the position of Psalm 8 in the Psalter and the major theme of book I (conflict and confrontation with the rise of the Davidic kingship), it is amazing that David in Psalm 8 focused on the width, breadth, depth, height of God’s greatness, majesty, and glory (Ephesians 3:17-21). David is on the run in the midst of establishing God’s kingdom of peace and righteousness. Yet he collected himself and focused on God’s glory as he took in creation with his physical eyes but also with his spiritual eyes. However, David did not stop with creation. In verse 4, David asked: what is man that you are mindful of him? The question came in the background of David’s initial consideration of creation and the Creator as expressed in: Psalm 8: The greatness of God: Creation and man.
Initially, David looked at nature and said wow. He was faced with the theme of this blog: The Greatness of God: Creation and man! Then he looked at mankind and gave another even more forceful wow. He wondered how it was possible for God to remember and care for mankind (Psalm 144:3-4; Job 7:17-18). David was so amazed at the contrast between the smallness of man and the greatness and transcendence (otherness, separateness) of God and His creation. It concluded that God is and cares!
It may be in this context that Jesus meant His teaching regarding worry to be understood (Matthew 6:24-34). If God takes care of His creation which is not His image bearer, how much more man who is. Therefore worry has to do with control and provisions. Trust in God. David was doing this though imperfectly; Jesus did perfectly and redemptively! .
David’s focus was not only on man but more on God: that God remembered man and cared for him. David could not get enough of God and the attention and care He placed on man. David acknowledged and somehow experienced his insignificance but it was in light of God’s presence and greatness. David was in awe – he wondered and pondered but couldn’t understand why God would care for the insignificant.
David concluded that because of God’s greatness and majesty and not in spite of it, God gave insignificant man a place a little lower than the angels and crowned him with glory and honor (v.5).
God gave man significance but it was significance defined by God and done God’s way (1 Corinthians 1:30). The significance was not inherent in man. In verses 6-8, David explained God’s gift to man. David referred back to the Garden of Eden and Genesis 1:26-31. Man’s original position was one of king. Man was to function as God’s king in His kingdom. But man was to be a king God’s way for God’s glory.
The writer of Hebrews applied verses 4-6 of Psalm 8 to Jesus Christ (Hebrews 2:6-8). Jesus Christ is the greater David and Messiah. In His humiliation, He labored in kingdom building – the kingdom of God. He was rejected and in a metaphorical sense He was on the run from enemies within Israel including His own family (John 7:1-10). Jesus was God’s man and agent. He was King but His godly rule was rejected. In the end, His resurrection and ascension were God’s imprimatur that Christ was God’s Anointed, God’s Son, and God’s King to which all nations will bow (Hebrews 2:6-9; Psalm 2:5-7; 1 Corinthians 15:27; Ephesians 1:22).
David on the run did not see the full consummation of his rule as king. However, he knew it was coming (2 Samuel 7:12-14). He was called to trust. So, too, do believers. Jesus is King but it does not appear that is the case (Hebrews 2: 8-9). What one can see with the physically does not change God’s reality. Man’s position in the universe is subordinate to and dependent upon Christ’s Kingship and God’s placement of man in His kingdom. Amazingly, David had insight into these thoughts. He drew strength, courage, and endurance (v.6). David was preparing to be the king that first Adam was not. Jesus was the second Adam and the last man and by His death and resurrection He secured the kingdom.
For the believer, including David, resurrection life begins now – at salvation on this earth. The believer is a new creature in God’s new creation and he is a king (Rom. 6:9-11; 2 Cor. 5:9, 15-17). Through the indwelling Holy Spirit man “sees” Jesus with the eyes of saving faith. He does not lose heart. Rather he lives though imperfectly becoming more like Christ in thoughts, desires, and actions.
King Jesus set the trail and pioneered the journey from salvation to heaven through the process of sanctification. Jesus knew perfectly His relationship to the Father, His mission, the grace of the Holy Spirit, and the joy set before Him (Hebrews 12:1-3). Therefore, He ran the race with perfect confidence. Such it was, should be, and is but imperfectly for David and for believers. This eternal mindset and perspective was a blessing and a tool to help David persevere in being God’s kind of king and man. Such it is for every believer in every age.
1. How do answer David’s question: who is man?
2. What is the basis for your answer?
3. How do you link creation and mankind and what are the results?
4. How are you like Christ as a king?