Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Majesty of the LORD: Learning to Pray Psalm 8 (Part 2)

This post will cover the remainder of Psalm 8. For comments on 8:1–3, check out yesterday's post.

 Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory
    in the heavens.
Through the praise of children and infants
    you have established a stronghold against your enemies,
    to silence the foe and the avenger.
When I consider your heavens,
    the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
    which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
    human beings that you care for them?
You have made them a little lower than the angels
    and crowned them with glory and honor.
You made them rulers over the works of your hands;
    you put everything under their feet:
all flocks and herds,
    and the animals of the wild,
the birds in the sky,
    and the fish in the sea,
    all that swim the paths of the seas.
Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!

The psalmist stands in awe when contemplating God’s marvelous creation on one hand and on the other hand humanity’s place within it. God shaped the universe in all its vastness yet God invites humanity into a special relationship. Verse 4 asks this question in a way that captures the psalmist’s wonder: “What is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?”

Verses 5–8 reflect on the place of women and men in God’s world. Much of the language here comes from the creation account of humanity in Genesis 1:26–31. Scripture announces that God has crafted every single person who has ever lived and ever will in God’s image. This lifts up the dignity of every person regardless of economic status, gender, ethnicity, or any other idea or belief that divides our world. This was a unique idea in the ancient world of the psalmist. In the Ancient world, only kings were thought to be in God’s image and this gave them a license to use and abuse other humans as expendable slaves and servants of the king and the gods. 

The biblical view of humanity is sharply different. The bible views every person as a king. All of us have value. This is the what the psalmist marvels about.

God created people to serve in God’s mission as stewards over all creation and as witnesses of God’s character to the rest of creation. In light of this good news,  the psalmist returns to his initial exhortation: “O LORD our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!”

We may object and say, “Where do we see this truth manifest in our day?” In Scripture, the reality described by Psalm 8 finds its fullest manifestation in Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.

In Hebrews 2:6–11, the author connects the hope expressed in Psalm 8:5–6 with the work of Jesus. Jesus comes to fulfill God’s original intentions for all humanity. Jesus lives the perfect human life in anticipation of the full renewal of all things through his death and resurrection. Through Jesus’ faithful life and sacrificial death, Jesus offers the opportunity for all people to receive God’s grace, be made holy, and be reconciled fully to God’s family (Heb 2:11). Jesus came to make it possible for each of us to live as the person whom God created us to be. This is good news. Psalm 8 marvels at the possibilities and potentials of each person. It envisions a different type of world.

With the coming of Jesus and his death and resurrection, we as Jesus’ followers can begin to witness through our own lives and serve in God’s mission to manifest God’s future abundance in the now while we await its full manifestation in the coming New Creation.

What does Psalm 8 remind us about the role of humanity in God’s creation?

What does Psalm 8 teach us about Jesus’ life and mission?

How does Psalm 8 help us to understand our mission?

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