John T. Willis

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Glory of God and of Humanity--Psalm 8

Psalm 8 is a Hymn of Nature. A major emphasis in this psalm is the glory of God in verse 1 and the glory of humanity in verse 5.

I. The Inclusio. Psalm 8:1a-b, 9.
    a. Many poetic passages in the Bible intentionally have an inclusio. This means that the beginning and conclusion are the same. For other examples, see Psalms 103:1, 22 and 104:1, 35: "Bless the Lord, O my soul."
    b. The inclusio in Psalm 8 is: "O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth!"
    c. Yahweh's "majesty" is his commanding rule. Every creature must look up to and honor and revere the creator of all that is. His majesty dominates the lives of all creatures.
    d. Yahweh's "name" is a circumlocution for Yahweh Himself, and not a proper name like Yahweh or the like.
    e. Yahweh's majesty and rule is not over Israel, God's chosen people, but over all the earth.

II. The Magnificence of God and the Insignificance of Human Beings. Psalm 8:1c-4.
     a. The composer of Psalm 8 makes a very sharp difference between God and human beings. First, he says that God has set his GLORY above the heavens. This does not say IN the heavens, but ABOVE the heavens. Yahweh is over all, including the entire universe throughout space. God's glory here means his magnificence, his splendor, his grandeur. 8:1c.
     b. God has enemies, celestial and terrestrial, the devil and his angels, and evil nations and leaders on planet earth. But God's power is incomparable. He is so powerful that "out of the mouths of babes and infants he has founded a bulwark" to ward off all his enemies. 8:2.
     c. When the psalmist considers "the work of God's fingers" to produce the heavens and that he has established the moon and the stars, human beings are so insignificant that one would think that God would not even consider them, must less take care of them. But our God is full of steadfast love and faithfulness and mercy and forgiveness, and out of his own heart, he is deeply concerned about everything and everyone he has created. 8:3-4.

III. Human Beings have a VERY UNIQUE function in creation. Psalm 8:5-8.
      a. Genesis 1:26-27 declares that Yahweh created all human beings in his image and after his likeness. What does this mean? Psalm 8:5-8 apparently explains what this means. FOUR ideas are involved.
      b. FIRST, human beings are not gods, but lower than God. Thus, the only way any human being should feel about himself or herself is humility. And yet, ironically, THE PRIMARY SIN of human beings is ARROGANCE, PRIDE, SELF-CENTEREDNESS. 8:5.
      c. SECOND, human beings are not animals or plants. Rather, God has given them dominion over the works of God's hands: sheep and oxen, beasts, birds, fish, whatever passes along the paths of the seas. Yet, ironically, many people lower themselves into activities that show they are like animals. One can think of fornication, adultery, homosexuality, all types of debased and shameful behaviors. 8:5-8.
      d. THIRD, human beings are supposed to be God's representatives on earth. Throughout the ancient Near East, when a suzerain or an emperor came into power, his workers would build images of that ruler in all the nations over which he ruled. Yahweh is our King, our Sovereign, our Suzerain, our Emperor. And he expects all human beings to represent HIM faithfully on earth.
      e. FOURTH, there is a clear means in which God can make communication with all human beings. This is why we can pray that God will help us, and God will respond in various wonderful ways.

Share YOUR insights and prayers and reversals and experiences and thoughts with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis