Paradigm Shift: Psalm 8:1-5

Understanding things for the first time

To the Chief Musician. On the instrument of Gath. A Psalm of David.

1 “O Lord, our Lord,
How excellent is Your name in all the earth,
Who have set Your glory above the heavens!

Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants
You have ordained strength,
Because of Your enemies,
That You may silence the enemy and the avenger.

When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars, which You have ordained,
What is man that You are mindful of him,
And the son of man that You visit him?
For You have made him a little lower than the angels,
And You have crowned him with glory and honor.”

Psalm 8:1-5, NKJV

As I read this over and again, I was particularly struck by the power we have to extol God. And that is truly remarkable! We can make Him great, and then expand that greatness into the world around us. We can choose to reflect His glory, and kingdom. That is quite amazing, to give our Father that attention.

We influence others by our witness and worship.  It’s when we esteem Him, that we finally begin to announce His ascendancy and preeminence in our world. Now we know that we don’t adjust Him by doing this. For He is completely unchangeable and sovereign.  But certainly your worship and obedience somehow matters!

Commentary

V. 1, “O Lord, our Lord,
How excellent is Your name in all the earth,
Who have set Your glory above the heavens

Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants
You have ordained strength,
Because of Your enemies,
That You may silence the enemy and the avenger.

David as a king is vital not only to his kingdom— but, the Kingdom. I believe he understands that he can influence the universe by what he declares. The word David chooses from his Hebrew vocabulary is “excellent.”  This word is defined as, ‘to possess outstanding quality or superior merit; remarkably good.’

V. 2, gives us a paradigm shift of focus. It isn’t just the universe (v. 1). Rather it is a complete (and totally) different direction. It’s now on babies, and nursing infants. These are frankly the most weak and vulnerable in our society. David takes us through the magnificent complexity of the planets and stars, right into the homespun innocence of a nursery, cribs and teddy bears.

When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars, which You have ordained,
What is man that You are mindful of him,
And the son of man that You visit him?

David now shifts back to the physical universe. He would’ve been very aware of the stars as he shepherded his flock. The Milky Way was a spectacular display of a creative power over his head. He saw the orderly movement, and attributed it to a Creator. David had no telescope, so he could only see maybe ‘one billionth’ of what we see today with our Hubble Telescope.

David does have a profound question though. He thinks through this display of magnificent creation to “man.” Why, and what is man? How can this Creator even slightly consider a human baby? And why does it matter even? These must be asked if we are to be people of integrity and truth.

V.5  ” For You have made him a little lower than the angels,
And You have crowned him with glory and honor.”

David both answers his questions, and expands them out further. He understands the theology of a creative order. However he makes it seem a trifle fantastic. Just a little lower— and yet crowned! David is perplexed and hopeful, at the same time.

bry-signat (1)

Let’s Get It Right: Psalm 8, NLT

“In the beginning…”

O Lord, our Lord, your majestic name fills the earth!
    Your glory is higher than the heavens.
You have taught children and infants
    to tell of your strength,[b]
silencing your enemies
    and all who oppose you.

When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers—
    the moon and the stars you set in place—
what are mere mortals that you should think about them,
    human beings that you should care for them?[c]
Yet you made them only a little lower than God[d]
    and crowned them[e] with glory and honor.
You gave them charge of everything you made,
    putting all things under their authority—
the flocks and the herds
    and all the wild animals,
the birds in the sky, the fish in the sea,
    and everything that swims the ocean currents.

O Lord, our Lord, your majestic name fills the earth!

Psalm 8, NLT

This psalm is hopelessly impregnated with a sweet significance. We read the words, and the sentences to understand. The implications and consequences have a way of turning everything upside down. In this sense it is subversive, working inside of us, until it does what the Spirit has assigned it to do.
Looking at the Word as a prescription can be quite healthy. Thirty years ago I had a counselor who once wrote her Bible verses on a pad—  just like a physician would do.  I would take the recommended verses home, read and pray. I valued them, because I felt they were for me. (Perhaps more Christian counselors  and pastors should try this?)
Commentary
V. 5 “Yet you made them only a little lower than God
    and crowned them with glory and honor.”
We have been engineered and placed under God Himself. This is my position in creation. It is true whether I believe it or not. “Made” and “crowned.” Both words are considerably significant. To me, being made is all about humility and limitations. I belong to Him. And wearing a crown makes me noble— royalty. As a believer I must exercise that authority that God has given me.
V. 6, “ You gave them charge of everything you made,
    putting all things under their authority—
 The created world has a master, and that must be considered. And yet we discover that some of creation is hostile to us. Man- eating tigers, venomous snakes, and disease-causing microbes are just the start. We seem to be in opposition to much of creation.
This was never meant to be. Even though we are placed in this position of noble/servant, things aren’t going swimmingly well for us. Much is explained here:
“For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are.20 Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, 21 the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. 22 For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.”
Romans 8
V. 7— 8, “the flocks and the herds
    and all the wild animals,
 the birds in the sky, the fish in the sea,
    and everything that swims the ocean currents.
God’s ideal was that creation would have an order, and that we should be responsible for leading the created world. This was upset when men chose to sin, and rebelled against the Lord.
V. 9, “O Lord, our Lord, your majestic name fills the earth!”
Everything ends up in worship. We may struggle with sin, struggle with theology, and struggle with the Church. But all of this can benefit us, if we end up worshipping.
There is much here that we should see. And I trust that the Holy Spirit would advance His truth in your lives. I leave you with this verse.
 Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him.
Colossians 3:10

ybic, Bryan

Footnotes:
  1. Psalm 8:1 Hebrew according to the gittith.
  2. Psalm 8:2 Greek version reads to give you praise. Compare Matt 21:16.
  3. Psalm 8:4 Hebrew what is man that you should think of him, / the son of man that you should care for him?
  4. Psalm 8:5 Or Yet you made them only a little lower than the angels; Hebrew reads Yet you made him [i.e., man] a little lower than Elohim.
  5. Psalm 8:5 Hebrew him [i.e., man]; similarly in 8:6.