Summary: Our worth as human beings lies not in ourselves but in our majestic creator God.
I’m writing school reports at the moment. It’s something I hate doing. We have a system where you’re expected to write 50-100 words per student so that in the end over all your reports you’ve written tens of thousands of words most of which begin or end with “Johhny needs to be more focused in class” or “Jane is a pleasant student”.
But I came across a website recently where there was a whole list of supposedly real report comments. I’ve got my doubts about that claim, but here are a selection:
• “While Daniel remains at school a village somewhere is being deprived of an idiot.
• Sandra sets low standards for herself and consistently fails to achieve them
• Dylan contributed to his biology class this semester by providing a perfect example of a primate.
Nowadays we’ve got to be very careful what we write. It seems that, while parents want honest reports in plain language, when it comes to some of their little darlings you can’t be too honest. There was even a directive from the department of education telling us that we can’t criticize a student just in case we’re sued, just in case it damages their self-esteem.
It’s all tied in to this little “self-esteem” idea. It’s the idea that we’re all supposed to know we’re important, worthwhile, valuable. And even more than that – that we’re inherently good and skillful and super intelligent and the most important person in the world.
Now I’m all for people feeling they’re worthwhile but all too often I see “healthy self-esteem” quickly become arrogance, egocentrism and narcissism. And the main problem is that we don’t as humans understand where we fit into the world. We see our lives and our earth and this whole universe as primarily human or anthrocentric. Man is at the centre of the world and the centre of my life is me.
But when we look at this psalm we get a different perspective. Man is no longer the centre of the universe. We don’t look at the great achievements of men and think “what an amazing bunch of people we are.” No, we start and we finish with God.
Vs 1 – “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!”
In many ways this is a very simple psalm but its implications are breathtaking. It moves us to reflect on who God is. As that classic children’s song says, it reminds us that “God is so big and so strong and so mighty, there’s nothing my God cannot do.” He is an awesome God, but it’s not something we always feel or appreciate.
An old Southern Baptist preacher, Vance Havner, once said …
“Too many church services start at 9:00am sharp and end at 10:00am dull.”
I do find some comfort in this statement because we rarely start at 5:30 sharp, but I venture that isn’t the real point. I’m sure you’ve been to a Christian gathering which you’ve just found boring and a bit lifeless.
But when we reflect on the God of Ps 8, it shouldn’t be this way. Not because Christians are always jovial, bouncy people but because of the God we worship.
We get this feeling of awe and wonder and excitement in this psalm. It’s a song by King David and as we’ve already read, he begins and ends this song with the same line:
O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
David knows that God is worth celebrating.
So in this song that mingles joy and awe, he rehearses the facts about who God is and what He has done.
And most significant among those things in this psalm is his creation.
I love the description in vs. 3. The heavens and the moon and the stars are the work of God’s fingers which he has set in place. It’s the image of a model-maker crafting his work. To God, the universe is not some massive edifice he’s constructed. It’s the tiny, intricate work of his fingers like some hobbyist or gemstone expert with his magnifying glass and miniscule pair of tweezers. God is so huge that the billions upon billions of light years that is the width of this universe are all encompassed in the palm of his hand. We want to limit God but he has no limit.
I’m sure I’ve mentioned this from this pulpit before, but there’s a great picture in Isaiah 6 where God is giving the prophet this great commission to preach to the people of Judah and Isaiah receives this vision. Solomon had built this great temple where God lived amongst his people. It was a massive building but in the vision the train of God’s robe filled the temple. The little end bit that drags along the ground on God’s robe fills his house.